TAMPA, FLORIDA — Ryan Montgomery popped off for his first scores of the season, Desmond Ridder threw two touchdown passes, and the Cincinnati Bearcats triumphed over South Florida by a score of 45-28.
Led by Ridder’s school record-breaking performance, Cincinnati jumped out to a 31-7 lead in the third quarter. The Bearcats star quarterback found Josh Whyle among other targets for a near-spotless showing, throwing 31 completions on 39 pass attempts for 304 yards and two touchdowns.
“We know we’re still climbing and when you’re climbing a mound there’s going to be struggles, there’s going to be obstacles and we had some tonight,” coach Luke Fickell said. “I thought Desmond Ridder had a phenomenal night.”
Ridder’s advancement was aided by the emergence of Ryan Montgomery from the trenches of the depth chart. Montgomery, who took over at the helm of the run game in light Jerome Ford’s leg injury, opened up the scoring for his team on a pitch and catch to the right for 12 yards. He later finished the night with six carries for 72 yards and two scores, including a game-icing 55-yard score with only two minutes to go. The junior halfback from Franklin, Ohio, spun by a defender across the middle, exploded into open area at midfield, and found himself off to the races as he punched punched the ball in.
“That’s what keeps me laying awake at night, is just finding ways to finish things off,” Fickell said. “That’s where we’ve got to go if we want to be great.”
South Florida did see a noteworthy-performance from their lead rusher, Jaren Mangham, who found the end zone on two separate occasions in lieu of moving the rock 16 times for 53 yards.
Final Score: Cincinnati 45, South Florida 28
Cincinnati will enter it’s showdown against SMU next week with a record of 10-0 (6-0 American Athletic Conference). The Mustangs currently sit at fourth in the overall conference standings, trailing UCF and Houston for the second spot in the AAC title game. SMU (7-2, 3-2 American Athletic Conference) has dropped its last two games in light of one possessions defeats at Houston and Memphis.
Tied with Cinci in terms of conference record, Houston looks all but guaranteed smooth sailing the rest of the regular season with matchups against both Temple (3-6) and former AAC foe Connecticut (1-8). The Cougars are still awaiting their first possible mention of the season in this year’s College Football Playoff Rankings, which will be renewed again this upcoming Tuesday night.
Cincinnati qualifies as only one of three group of five teams to earn an appearance in the top 25. San Diego State (8-1, No. 22) and UTSA (9-0, No. 23) both edged out a slew of three and four-loss power five programs for those coveted final spots. Such low rankings for high win percentage teams has drawn criticism upon the committee for devaluing the importance of the regular season and undefeated records, but CFP chairman Gary Barta refuted the claims.
Cincinnati Key Stat Leaders
Passing: QB Desmond Ridder, 31-39, 304 yards and two touchdowns
Rushing: RB Ryan Montgomery, six carries, 72 yards and two touchdowns
Receiving: TE Josh Whyle, five receptions, 61 yards and one touchdown
Tackling: LB Ty Van Fossen, seven total tackles, seven solo tackles and one sack
South Florida Key Stat Leaders
Passing: QB Timmy McClain, 16-30, 245 yards and one touchdown
Rushing: RB Jaren Mangham, 16 carries, 53 yards and two touchdowns
Receiving: WR Jimmy Horn Jr., five receptions, 108 yards and one touchdown
Tackling: LB Antonio Grier, 14 total tackles, 13 solo tackles
Full Remaining Cincinnati Schedule:
SMU Mustangs, Saturday, November 20
@ East Carolina Pirates, Saturday, November 27