TAMPA — USF's chances of earning its first Big East win this season may rest with how well the Bulls can exploit a Cincinnati defense that excels in many areas.
The Bulls, who have scored 27 points combined in their last two games, faces a defense that ranks in the top 15 in Division I-A in turnover margin, turnovers gained, rushing defense and scoring defense.
"We've seen what they can do," QB B.J. Daniels said, "and like I've said before, they do a good job of stopping the run, stopping the pass and taking turnovers away from people, so … we'll have to do a really good job of protecting (the ball)."
Still, the offensive players remain confident in their ability to produce points.
"We've come out ready to go in practice and perform every day in practice," WR A.J. Love said. "It's just, you know, game time we have to get it clicking."
WAITING ON A RETURN: Sophomore PR Terrence Mitchell remains sidelined from a concussion he suffered last month against Texas-El Paso, coach Skip Holtz said.
"He's progressing along well, and everything is on track," Holtz said. "We're just waiting for some of his (concussion test) numbers to get back to his baseline."
FSU: Kicker's aim
TALLAHASSEE — Dustin Hopkins was surprised when he found out he had earned ACC specialist of the week honors.
In FSU's win over Duke, the kicker had two field goals and four point-afters but launched a pair of kickoffs out of bounds.
"It's something that if I'm not actively working on, it'll show its ugly face," said Hopkins, who added that his plant leg was off, sending his drives slicing.
Hopkins has yet to miss an extra point or a field goal this season. He has set a school record of consecutive point-afters (110 and counting) to surpass Derek Schmidt's 108 in 1987. He's one field goal shy of matching Graham Gano's 18 made in a row in 2005.
"He takes his work very seriously and goes about it and has a great ability to show consistency and comes to work every day," coach Jimbo Fisher said.
UCF: At a crossroads
ORLANDO — Coach George O'Leary challenged his players all week to decide how they wanted to finish the 2011 season.
The Knights have dropped three of their past four games, but they still have a chance to compete for the C-USA Eastern Division title and a bowl slot.
Senior LB Josh Linam said the coach asked his players: "What kind of team are we? Are we a mentally tough team that can get past the three losses and win out from here?"
The Knights will have a chance to demonstrate their desire tonight against winless Alabama-Birmingham. "We've still got a lot of games left in conference play, and we control our own destiny," O'Leary said.
UM: DT suspended
CORAL GABLES — Miami DT Micanor Regis will not play against Georgia Tech after being suspended by the school for one game for punching a North Carolina player last weekend.
Regis was not penalized on the play where he punched WR Dwight Jones, who had just been tackled after catching a pass, in the groin area. Regis is not expected to face further sanctioning from the ACC.
The Hurricanes already have injury problems on the defensive line and face one of Division I-A's top rushing offenses. Georgia Tech averages 348 yards per game on the ground and more than 500 yards in total offense.
UF: Needing help
GAINESVILLE — UF coach Will Muschamp said he rarely speaks to his team about its position in the SEC East race.
"It's pretty obvious that we need some help at this point," he said. "They understand where they are and what's at stake."
Florida, third in the division, is two games behind Georgia, which it plays Oct. 29, and South Carolina. To win the East, the Gators need to win out — beating the Bulldogs and Gamecocks in the process — while Georgia and South Carolina both need to drop a game against another SEC foe.
Arrest: Freshman CB Marcus Roberson was arrested and charged with underage possession of alcohol last month, according to Alachua County court records. The University Police Department arrested Roberson on Sept. 14, three days before he started against Tennessee. Roberson was 18 at the time of his arrest; he turned 19 on Oct. 4. It is unclear what type of punishment the cornerback, who has started every game this season, received.
Tyler Jett, Times correspondent