Two weeks ago this match up was supposed to decide not only the Big East, but also maybe shape the national championship picture. USF was the number 2 team in the country and both Cincinnati and USF were undefeated. Since then both teams have lost two straight games in conference and are now hoping to stay alive. Cincinnati is in better shape in the Big East because they have not played UConn or WVU, the two teams in front of these teams in the Big East. This game means a lot to both of these teams, and should be a great game.
Many of the USF fans have jumped off the bandwagon, so it will be interesting to see how many people show up to the game. The past two home games have had students lining up for days in advance, but none of that has happened with this game. I expected some fans to jump off, but it seems more than I thought have left. Bulls fans need to come out and get this team fired up. The Bulls have had two straight rough road games and they need the home crowd to help them get back what they have lost and get them fired up to play. Cincinnati is a tough team and will be a tough match up for the Bulls.
The Bulls are hurting, especially on offense and against a tough Bearcat defense, it could mean big trouble. USF is still without their best offensive tackle Walt Walker, which has caused them problems already trying to protect Matt Groethe. The Bulls are also going to be without their top two wide receivers with Amarri Jackson and Taurus Johnson out with injuries. The Bulls wide outs have not been good all year and the loss of their two best ones are going to hurt, especially against the Bearcat secondary. Also, the Bulls may be without running back Mike Ford who left the UConn game. Ford has been the Bulls best back behind Matt Groethe and if he cannot play it will put even more pressure on Groethe to carry the team. Groethe has been great running the ball, but has made mistakes throwing the ball if teams can keep him in the pocket. Cincinnati has been great all year at not only forcing turnovers, but making the most of those turnovers. If they keep Groethe in the pocket, he will make mistakes, and the Bearcats will take advantage.
The Bull defense has been good all season long, with its only real bad game coming against Rutgers and power runner Ray Rice. The Bearcats do not have the power type runner like Ray Rice and their offense really fuels off of turnovers. Quarterback Ben Mauck has been pretty good on the year with 15 touchdowns and 5 interceptions. The Bulls will need to get to Mauck and make him uncomfortable in the pocket. To do this the USF will need George Sealvie to return to early season form and get some sacks and pressures on the quarterback. This is not a high powered offense, like WVU, but they are good enough to win and if the Bulls do not get pressure they will find themselves in a bad spot.
The key in this game will be turnovers. Neither of these teams has a great offense, but both have great defenses. Whoever wins the turnover battle will win this game and the Bearcats seem to be better at getting the turnovers. Expect Cincinnati to keep Groethe in the pocket and make him try to beat them through the air. If Cincy is successful at that they will win the game because they will have at least two interceptions. This is an important game in the Big East and the Bulls will be fired up, but I think Cincy takes this game.
Prediction: Cincy 24 USF 20