2011 Predictions & Game Story
Week 8 - Cincinnati at USF
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Oct. 22 Cincinnati 37 … at South Florida 34
CFN Analysis: Zach Collaros was brilliant, and now the BCS spot is there for the taking. He might have thrown two picks, but he threw for 389 yards and two scores and led the way for the game-winning touchdown run against a defense talented enough and strong enough to have done far more. The secondary was a nightmare and the defensive front didn’t have its best day, but Collaros made up for the problems and the special teams were solid, led by a great day from punter Pat O’Donnell, who averaged 53.5 yards per kick and put two inside the 20. On a five game winning streak, now the season really starts with Pitt and West Virginia up next before going on the road to face Rutgers and Syracuse. This might not be 2009, but it’s a strong bounceback season after rebuilding last year.
And now the wheels have come off. At home, with a late lead, and a defense that’s athletic enough and talented enough to come up with a big stop, it failed. The secondary couldn’t keep the Bearcats under wraps and the defensive front couldn’t contain Zach Collaros when it needed to get into the backfield. B.J. Daniels was brilliant, throwing for 409 yards and three scores while running for 54 yards, but he doesn’t play defense. The four turnovers were a disaster and there was only one sack, but things aren’t that bad despite the big slide. 0-3 in the Big East is ugly, but if all the parts can play well at once, the year can turn around in a hurry. With Rutgers and Syracuse up next, the Bulls have to keep the mistakes to a minimum, which wasn’t a problem over the first half of the year.
(AP) TAMPA, Fla. -- Zach Collaros threw for three touchdowns and ran for two fourth-quarter scores, helping Cincinnati come from behind in the closing minutes Saturday to stay atop the Big East standings with a 37-34 victory over South Florida.
The senior quarterback finished a seven-play, 70-yard game-winning drive with a 2-yard TD run with 12 seconds remaining. Collaros also scored on a 3-yard run and threw a 30-yard TD pass to Alex Chisum to help Cincinnati (6-1, 2-0) wipe out a 10-point deficit early in the final quarter and finished 26 of 41 passing for 389 yards.
B.J. Daniels threw for 409 yards and three TDs for South Florida (4-3, 0-3). His 10-yard scoring pass to Andre Davis put the Bulls ahead 34-30 with 1:27 remaining.
However, that was more than enough time for Collaros to pull out Cincinnati's fifth straight win.
With West Virginia losing 49-23 at Syracuse and Rutgers falling 16-14 at Louisville on Friday night, Cincinnati is left as the only team that's unbeaten in Big East play. South Florida began the season with four straight wins that propelled the Bulls to a No. 16 national ranking, but they've now dropped three straight to begin a conference schedule that won't get any easier with trips to Rutgers and Syracuse for their next two games.
Collaros completed 26 of 41 passes and was intercepted twice. He threw TD passes of 6 yards to Isaiah Pead and 21 yards to Adrien Robinson in addition to his fourth quarter throw to Chisum, who made a leaping catch before tumbling in the end zone. Kenbrell Thompkins had six receptions for 114 yards, including a 33-yarder that helped the Bearcats get into position for the winning score.
Sterling Griffin and Andreas Shields also had touchdown receptions for South Florida.
Poor clock management cost South Florida a shot at taking the lead in the closing seconds of the second quarter. Daniels was stopped for no gain on second-and-goal from the Cincinnati 2 with about 20 seconds remaining, but the Bulls let time run down to 3 seconds before calling timeout to allow Maikon Bonani to kick a 20-yard field goal that made it 10-10 at the half.
The miscue capped a sloppy half in which both teams squandering scoring opportunities -- Cincinnati with Tony Miliano hooking a 33-yard field goal attempt wide left and Collaros throwing an end zone interception after the Bearcats recovered a fumble at the Bulls 13; and South Florida botching what would have been a 21-yard field goal try with a poor snap.
Daniels' scoring throw to Griffin finished a 10-play, 80-yard drive and was the first offensive touchdown allowed by Cincinnati's defense in 10 quarters. Murray's TD on the opening drive of the second half gave the Bulls a short-lived 17-10 lead that Collaros erased with a six-play, 80-yard march that Thompkins kept alive with a 39-yard reception on third-and-2 from the Bearcats 40.
South Florida regained the lead on Bonani's second field goal of the game. Daniels, who completed 31 of 47 passes, put the Bulls up 27-17 with his TD pass to Shields late in the third quarter.
Collaros was 4 of 6 for 69 yards on the winning drive. Thompkins' 33-yard reception gave the Bearcats a first down at the South Florida 22. Collaros also threw 21 yards to Anthony McClung on the march.
Cincinnati (5-1) at South Florida (4-2) Oct. 22, 12:00, Big East Network
Here’s The Deal … Just about everyone has a shot of winning the wide-open, eight-team Big East this season. If South Florida plans on remaining a part of that discussion, it has to win Saturday’s game at Raymond James Stadium. The Bulls are absolutely ecstatic to be back in Tampa in following back-to-back Northeast losses to Pittsburgh and Connecticut. The program that stunned Notre Dame in the opener, and was ranked for a time, has squandered any margin for error in the conference race.
USF did a poor job of overcoming the brisk and windy East Hartford conditions last weekend, turning the ball over four times in a 16-10 loss to the Huskies. So what do you make of Cincinnati at the halfway point of the campaign? The record looks fine, but the schedule has lacked a bite. And in their only other challenging road trip, the Bearcats were outclassed by Tennessee, 45-23. The next four games with South Florida, Pittsburgh, West Virginia and Rutgers will settle the debate on whether or not Cincy is a legitimate threat to win its first Big East title without Brian Kelly at the helm.
Why Cincinnati Might Win: South Florida will have a difficult time keeping up with the Bearcats offense, which is home to a better collection of playmakers, such as QB Zach Collaros and RB Isaiah Pead. The Bulls offense, on the other hand, has wilted every time its faced even marginal competition. Against Notre Dame, Pitt and Connecticut, for instance, QB B.J. Daniels has thrown just one touchdown pass. Complicating matters will be an overlooked Cincinnati run defense that ranks fourth nationally, and is allowing only 2.1 yards per carry. If DT Derek Wolfe, who’s playing his way up NFL Draft boards, and LB J.K. Schaffer can help corral backs Darrell Scott and Demetris Murray, points will once again be scarce for South Florida.
Why South Florida Might Win: Just because the Cincinnati offense has some flash doesn’t mean that it’s been unstoppable. In fact, in the last two games with Miami (OH) and Louisville, it’s produced just 52 points. The Bulls possess the requisite speed and depth to prevent Pead and Collaros from reaching their usual numbers. The front seven, in particular, is very long on quality defenders who can cause problems for the Bearcats front wall. Linebackers DeDe Lattimore and Sam Barrington are solid run stoppers, and linemen Ryne Giddins, Elkino Watson and Keith McCaskill get off the snap quickly. USF is No. 2 in the country in stops for loss, pocketing at least 10 in three of the last four games.
What To Watch Out For: To win on Saturday, South Florida will need more through the air from Daniels, who’s been reverting back to last season’s poor habits. He complained of not being able to get a good grip on the ball in Connecticut a week ago, which doesn’t figure to be a problem in Tampa. The junior, who’s failed to throw a touchdown pass the last two games, must have success against a secondary that’s the relative weak spot of the Cincinnati D. Corners Dominique Battle and Camerron Cheatham have been improving, but are still vulnerable to getting beat over the top.
What Will Happen: Not only is South Florida a very different team at home, but head coach Skip Holtz will make sure that it plays with a sense of urgency on Saturday. Both teams want this game, but the Bulls need it. They’ll rebound from their last two defeats behind a solid effort from the defense and Daniels. The quarterback won’t light it up through the air, but will have considerable success when he tucks the ball and takes off. In a matchup of relative equals, this will be a competitive contest that doesn’t get decided until late in the final quarter.
CFN Prediction: South Florida 27 … Cincinnati 23
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