Know the Foe: Cincinnati
A look at Cincinnati, which faces USF on Friday at Raymond James Stadium
Record: 6-4, 3-3 American Athletic Conference
Wins: 52-10 vs. Alabama A&M, 37-33 at Miami (Ohio), 34-23 vs. Miami (Fla.), 37-13 vs. Connecticut, 52-7 vs. UCF, 49-38 vs. Tulsa
Losses: 34-26 vs. Temple, 53-46 vs. Memphis, 38-24 at BYU, 33-30 at Houston
Coach: Tommy Tuberville (third season at UC, 24-12; 20th season overall, 154-89)
The breakdown: The Bearcats' pedestrian record belies their potent offense. Speaking of that record, their four defeats have come against teams with a combined 33-7 mark. QB Gunner Kiel, who briefly relinquished the starting job to freshman Hayden Moore earlier in the year, leads the American Athletic Conference's most prolific (585.6 ypg) -- and possibly most seasoned -- attack. Every projected Bearcats offensive starter is a junior or senior, with three fifth-year receivers -- Shaq Washington, Max Morrison and Jefferson High alumnus Chris Moore -- combining for 138 catches and 16 TDs. Though Cincy employs a single-back, spread look, three backs -- Mike Boone, Hosey Williams and Tion Green -- each have run for at least 620 yards. "They know what they're doing," Bulls senior DE Zack Bullock said. "You have to rile them up. You have to get people off their spots, because that stuff is timing and stuff like that, and most good offenses are." Defensively, Cincinnati has been ravaged by injuries in the secondary, where only one starter remains from the season opener. While Cincy's defense has allowed 400 or more yards six times, the Bearcats lead the American in opponents' third-down efficiency (30.6 percent). By contrast, USF's offense ranks 11th in third-down percentage (32.1).
Odds and ends: Bearcats backup WR Tshumbi Johnson Jr. is the older brother of Bulls sophomore TB D'Ernest Johnson. ... Moore and freshman CB Christian Angulo (East Bay) are the only bay area alumni on the roster. Moore arrives on his hometown's grandest stage tied with Mardy Gilyard for the most career TD receptions (25) in Bearcats history. ... Cincy enters Friday's game needing only 141 passing yards and 284 total yards to establish program records in both categories. ... The Bearcats still can win the AAC East -- based on the conference's tie-breaker formula -- if they win out and Temple loses out. In that scenario, UC would have a head-to-head advantage on USF, and a better in-division record than the Owls. ... In the kid-you-not category -- the Bearcats' top two strong-side linebackers are named Leviticus Payne and Mike Tyson.
Taggart's take: "Our guys know they have a lot of the same players that were on their team last year that beat our football team pretty good (34-17) up in Cincinnati. So they know what we're getting into and what kind of team we're facing, and we've got to be on our A-game."