Nov 19, 2022; Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, USA; Cincinnati Bearcats quarterback Ben Bryant (6) passes the ball against the Temple Owls during the second quarter at Lincoln Financial Field. Mandatory Credit: Bill Streicher-USA TODAY Sports

Report: Bearcats QB Ben Bryant (foot) out for season

Cincinnati starting quarterback Ben Bryant will miss the rest of the season with a foot injury, ESPN reported Friday.

Evan Prater will make his first career start on Friday afternoon when the No. 24 Bearcats host No. 19 Tulane.

Both teams are 6-1 in the American Athletic Conference. Cincinnati would host the AAC title game with a win, but a loss combined with a UCF win against South Florida would knock the Bearcats out of the picture.

Bryant left last weekend’s 23-3 victory at Temple in the first half and was wearing a boot on his right foot during the second half.

The Eastern Michigan transfer completed 61.2 percent of his passes for 2,732 yards with 21 touchdowns and seven interceptions in 11 starts this season.

Prater, a redshirt sophomore and former ESPN 300 recruit, was Ohio’s Mr. Football in 2019. He has completed 18 of 25 passes for 238 yards and has rushed for 113 yards and one touchdown this season.

–Field Level Media

Nov 19, 2022; Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, USA; Cincinnati Bearcats safety Jacob Dingle (29) celebrates with teammates after intercepting a pass against the Temple Owls during the second quarter at Lincoln Financial Field. Mandatory Credit: Bill Streicher-USA TODAY Sports

No. 21 Tulane, No. 25 Cincinnati clash with championship on horizon

No. 25 Cincinnati is familiar with competing for the American Athletic Conference championship.

No. 21 Tulane isn’t.

But both teams will meet as equals on Friday in an AAC showdown in Cincinnati.

The winner will claim the regular-season conference title and host the AAC championship game next Saturday.

The Bearcats (9-2, 6-1 AAC) are two-time defending conference champions and have won 32 consecutive games in Nippert Stadium. Only Clemson (40) has a longer active winning streak at home.

“Nobody wants to be the guy that lets the streak go,” linebacker Wil Huber said. “But it’s not something that you go into the week thinking, ‘I’m not going to lose this streak.’ No one goes into a game thinking about not trying to lose. We go into every game expecting to win.”

Cincinnati, which qualified for the College Football Playoff last season, is 31-4 since the start of the 2020 season.

“I want them to embrace the opportunity that they’ve created and enjoy it,” Cincinnati coach Luke Fickell said of his players. “It doesn’t always happen at the end of November that you’re playing for the championship in the final game. They’ve created this and they deserve to enjoy it.”

Fickell said he’s unsure if starting quarterback Ben Bryant will be available. Bryant suffered a foot injury during the first half of a 23-3 win at Temple last Saturday.

Evan Prater replaced Bryant and would start if Bryant is unable to go.

“I think he’s ready,” Fickell said of Prater, who completed 12 of 17 passes for 127 yards last week. “It’s not going to be too big for him if he has to go in there. In the second half, he did a really good job of managing where we were and what we needed to do.”

The Green Wave (9-2, 6-1) were picked seventh in the AAC preseason poll after finishing 2-10 last season.

“It’s a great feeling to reflect back on how bad we did last year and now we’ve got the chance of a lifetime,” said running back Tyjae Spears, who has five consecutive 100-yard games and is 4 yards short of 1,000 for this season. “We’re just living in the moment, trying to make the most out of the opportunity we have.”

Tulane sat alone atop the conference standings before losing to UCF 38-31 two weeks ago but bounced back with a dominant 59-24 victory against SMU last Thursday. Quarterback Michael Pratt passed for three touchdowns and ran for three more.

“We played a great game and we’re going to have to play great again on Friday,” Green Wave coach Willie Fritz said. “We’ve got to take care of business. This is a big, big challenge for us.”

Tulane first appeared on the national radar this season after upsetting Kansas State 17-10 on the road on Sept. 17. Fritz said he expects a similar atmosphere in Cincinnati.

“This is a big deal for our program,” Fritz said. “We try to do the same preparation if at all possible every single week.”

These teams could meet again in the championship game, or the winner could face either UCF or Houston depending on what happens Saturday when UCF faces USF and Houston plays Tulsa.

–Field Level Media

Cincinnati Bearcats head coach Luke Fickell and quarterback Ben Bryant (6) take the field for the first quarter of the NCAA American Athletic Conference game between the Cincinnati Bearcats and the East Carolina Pirates at Nippert Stadium in Cincinnati on Friday, Nov. 11, 2022.

East Carolina Pirates At Cincinnati Bearcats Football

Cincinnati meets Temple, looks for another November win

When the calendar flips to November, Cincinnati tends to play its best football.

Especially under coach Luke Fickell.

The Bearcats (8-2, 5-1 American Athletic Conference) improved to 18-4 in November under Fickell with a 27-25 win over East Carolina last Saturday.

Cincinnati, which re-entered The Associated Press’ Top 25 poll at No. 22, will look to remain in strong contention to reach the AAC championship game when it faces Temple (3-7, 1-5) on Saturday in Philadelphia.

“We’ve trained and we’ve done all there is to get to November,” Fickell said. “November really matters.”

After a frustrating 25-21 loss to UCF on Oct. 29, the Bearcats have beaten Navy and East Carolina to remain in the race for the AAC title. Cincinnati is tied with UCF and Tulane for first place in the conference.

“We have always wanted to play for championships,” Fickell said.

It was far from a perfect victory over the Pirates on Friday, but Cincinnati did enough to earn its 32nd straight home win.

Quarterback Ben Bryant was 14 of 30 for 244 yards and two touchdowns, and wide receiver Tyler Scott had seven catches for 140 yards and one score.

Teammate Jadon Thompson also contributed a 100-yard kickoff return for a touchdown.

“Somehow, someway, maturity steps up,” Fickell said. “We make plays and we finish the ballgame.”

The task now is to slow arguably the hottest quarterback in the conference in Owls freshman E.J. Warner.

Temple received a record-setting performance from Warner but couldn’t overcome Houston’s powerful offense in a 43-36 loss last weekend.

Warner set a program record with 486 passing yards to go with three touchdown passes. He also set the record for passes completed (42).

Warner became the sixth quarterback in program history to throw for at least 2,000 yards in a season.

“The composure, the confidence level he has is very special,” Temple coach Stan Drayton said. “The way he’s spreading the ball around shows the knowledge he has for the whole system. I’m excited for his ceiling of growth and improvement … He’s exciting to be around.”

–Field Level Media

Oct 22, 2022; Greenville, North Carolina, USA;  East Carolina Pirates quarterback Holton Ahlers (12) gets ready too hand the ball off against the UCF Knights during the second half at Dowdy-Ficklen Stadium. Mandatory Credit: James Guillory-USA TODAY Sports

Cincinnati can extend home dominance vs. streaking East Carolina

East Carolina will look to extend its winning streak to four games and continue one of its best starts in school history when the Pirates visit two-time defending American Athletic Conference champion Cincinnati on Friday.

The Pirates improved to 6-3 for the first time since 2014 when Andrew Conrad made a 33-yard field goal as time expired in a 27-24 nonconference win at BYU on Oct. 28. The Pirates return to league play, where they are 3-2, against the Bearcats (7-2, 4-1), who are coming off a 20-10 win over Navy on Saturday.

Cincinnati is led by quarterback Ben Bryant, who has completed 63.3 percent of his passes for 2,358 yards with 18 touchdowns and six interceptions. Charles McClelland has rushed for 727 yards and six touchdowns.

Tyler Scott has 42 receptions for a team-high 686 yards and eight scores. Tre Tucker has 45 catches for 530 yards and a score.

East Carolina, which is seeking its best start since finishing the regular season 9-3 in 2013, has dropped four straight games to Cincinnati and 10 of the past 11 meetings.

The Bearcats have won a school-record 31 straight home games and East Carolina hasn’t won there since 2001, when the teams were in Conference USA.

“We’ve got a quick turnaround for a team that is playing really, really well,” Cincinnati coach Luke Fickell said. “I think they’ll have 13 days off before they play us. We’re excited about the opportunity.”

The Pirates are led by Holton Ahlers, who has completed 70.1 percent of his passes for 2,632 yards with 18 touchdowns and five interceptions. Keaton Mitchell has powered the rushing attack with 863 yards and nine touchdowns.

Ahlers’ favorite targets are Isaiah Winstead, who has 64 receptions for 871 yards and three touchdowns, and C.J. Johnson, who has 44 catches for 702 yards and eight touchdowns.

“I think Holton is playing the best ball of his career right now. I think so many of the guys surrounding him are playing the best ball of their careers,” East Carolina coach Mike Houston said. “That’s offensive line, receivers, running backs, tight ends — there are so many guys gelling together.”

–Field Level Media

Cincinnati Bearcats head coach Luke Fickell walks back to the bench after a UCF Knights score in the fourth quarter during a college football game, Saturday, Oct. 29, 2022, at FBC Mortgage Stadium in Orlando, Fla. The UCF Knights defeated the Cincinnati Bearcats, 25-21.

Ncaaf Cincinnati Bearcats At Ucf Knights Oct 29 859

Unranked Cincinnati fixed on sinking Navy

Cincinnati was the first team from outside the Power 5 conferences to qualify for the College Football Playoff. Less than a year later, the Bearcats didn’t crack the Top 25 in the first edition of this season’s CFP rankings.

Cincinnati will try to shake off its first American Athletic Conference loss since 2019 when it hosts Navy on Saturday.

UCF handed the Bearcats (6-2, 3-1 AAC) a 25-21 defeat last Saturday to puncture their 19-game conference winning streak. Cincinnati grabbed a 21-18 lead with 3:04 left on Ryan Montgomery’s 39-yard scoring run and Ben Bryant’s two-point conversion pass to Tyler Scott. But UCF’s RJ Harvey scored the go-ahead touchdown run with 48 seconds on the clock.

“Disappointed of course, but it’s not something that holds you back,” coach Luke Fickell said. “That’s what I always worry about because of some of the successes that we had, is how you rebound from some of these things and how long does it sting and how long does it stay with you. What you can’t do is allow it to compound and cause you problems for continued weeks.”

The Bearcats allowed 505 total yards and 258 yards on the ground to UCF, both season highs. That might not bode well for them against Navy (3-5, 3-3), famed for its run-heavy triple-option offense.

“When quarterbacks run the ball, there’s issues always with extra hats, and hats on hats,” Fickell said. “What it really is gonna come down to is guys winning” individual assignments.

For Navy this week, that running quarterback will be backup Xavier Arline.

Starter Tai Lavatai suffered a left knee injury in last Saturday’s game against Temple. Arline took over and ran 16 times for 54 yards, including the game-winning 23-yard touchdown in overtime to help the Midshipmen beat Temple 27-20.

“We’ll tailor some stuff around (Arline) and play to his strengths and stuff that he does well,” coach Ken Niumatalolo said.

Navy pulled out a meaningful win on Senior Day. The Midshipmen won’t play in Annapolis for the rest of the year; after Cincinnati, they will host Notre Dame in Baltimore and travel to UCF before the Army-Navy game in Philadelphia.

Navy leads Cincinnati 3-2 in the all-time series. The Bearcats have won the past two meetings, sneaking out of Annapolis last year with a 27-20 win.

–Field Level Media

Oct 8, 2022; Cincinnati, Ohio, USA; Cincinnati Bearcats running back Charles McClelland (10) runs with the ball against the South Florida Bulls in the second half at Nippert Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Katie Stratman-USA TODAY Sports

No. 21 Cincinnati aims to continue domination of SMU

For No. 21 Cincinnati, seeing SMU on its schedule has always been a welcome sight.

The Bearcats have won five of six all-time meetings between the conference rivals while outscoring the Mustangs 213-106.

Now visiting Cincinnati will look to continue its reign over SMU on Saturday when the teams meet in Dallas.

Fresh off a bye week, the Bearcats (5-1, 2-0 American Athletic Conference) are riding a five-game winning streak after defeating South Florida 28-24 on Oct. 8.

Cincinnati running back Charles McClelland ran for 179 yards and two touchdowns on 21 carries, and Ben Bryant completed 15 of 21 passes for 178 yards and two TDs, with two interceptions.

However, Bryant exited the game in the fourth quarter with an undisclosed injury that later was diagnosed as a concussion. Top receiver Tyler Scott also had to leave the contest early with an ankle injury, but both are working toward a return this week.

“Obviously Ben has been able to get back — I think some of the concussion protocol type of stuff,” Cincinnati coach Luke Fickell said. “Tyler’s still a guy that we’re hoping throughout the rest of this week he’ll continue to get better and better and be able to play.

“You want those guys to be at their best in order to play. … You don’t want to put a guy out there that’s not going to be able to play and perform at the best of his ability.”

With a potentially hampered passing game, the Bearcats likely will have to lean on McClelland again, and he’ll have a chance to feast on a Mustangs defense that has allowed the ninth-most rushing yards per game in the FBS (209).

That defense allowed a whopping 372 yards on the ground against Navy last Friday, but SMU still won 40-34 thanks to quarterback Tanner Mordecai’s sterling performance.

Mordecai threw for 336 yards and three touchdowns on 20-of-27 passing. He also rushed for a score and 74 yards on six carries.

“He’s getting better and better,” Mustangs offensive coordinator Casey Woods said on The Pony Express podcast. “Early in the season, boy he was missing some things and doing some stuff like that. It’s funny how the statistics of a game or the flow of a game can shine a certain light on him.

“He got more credit than he deserved, then he got more blame than he deserved, and he’s kind of just stayed consistent and improved every week and is really playing at a high level right now.”

The senior already has eclipsed the 2,000-yard mark through the air this season and will try to replicate his performance against the Midshipmen and end the Mustangs’ woes against Cincinnati.

But that might not be easy. Opposing quarterbacks have struggled against the Bearcats, throwing for just an average of 186.3 yards per game.

“Cincinnati was (a) remarkable team last year, and they still remain to be,” Woods said of the Bearcats, who reached the College Football Playoffs, where they lost to Alabama. “You get a shot at the champ. Bring ‘em in.”

–Field Level Media

Sep 24, 2022; Cincinnati, Ohio, USA; Cincinnati Bearcats defensive lineman Jabari Taylor (90) reacts after an incomplete pass by the Indiana Hoosiers in the second half at Nippert Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Katie Stratman-USA TODAY Sports

Led by its defense, No. 24 Cincinnati meets USF

No. 24 Cincinnati will continue to rely on its aggressive defense, which leads the country in several categories, when it hosts South Florida for its homecoming game Saturday.

The Bearcats (4-1, 1-0 AAC) have 23 sacks, 50 tackles for loss and four defensive touchdowns this season, more than any other Football Bowl Subdivision program in each category.

Cincinnati can thank a stellar performance against Tulsa last week, in which the Bearcats recorded 11 sacks to open conference play with a 31-21 road victory.

That tied the AAC record for most sacks in a game. No FBS team has eclipsed 11 sacks in a contest since 2019.

“I know people want to talk about sacks and things like that,” Cincinnati coach Luke Fickell said, “but it all comes down to our ability to control the line of scrimmage, stop the run game and put ourselves in a lot better situation than we were in the last two years, to be honest with you.”

What’s more impressive is that the Bearcats weren’t all-out blitzing on every play. They dominated the line while sometimes sending just three or four rushers.

“I believe that gives everybody a lot of freedom and comfortability, especially with the linebackers,” said defensive lineman Jabari Taylor, who led the attack against Tulsa with 2 1/2 sacks as part of 3 1/2 TFLs. “With them knowing that we’re eating up blocks and such like that and consistently bringing pressure, that puts an ease on the guys in the back end who’ve got to run 40, 50, 60 yards every play.”

Running back Corey Kiner had his best game since transferring from LSU. He ran for a season-high 106 yards on 12 carries against Tulsa and scored a touchdown for the fifth straight game.

Meanwhile, the Bulls (1-4, 0-1) have only one win this season, against FCS opponent Howard in Week 2. They’ve lost to then-No. 25 BYU, then-No. 18 Florida (by three), Louisville and East Carolina (last week).

South Florida coach Jeff Scott insisted his team is better than its record says.

“We could’ve played some of the teams that other teams played in the nonconference, and we would have the exact same team we have right now, and we would be 3-2,” Scott said Tuesday. “But the message would be that we’re so much better, we turned the corner and here we go, we’re ready to go.”

The Bulls lost last week’s AAC opener to East Carolina 48-28 in a game that was moved from Tampa to Boca Raton, Fla., due to Hurricane Ian. South Florida trailed 41-7 at halftime, but Scott wanted to focus on his team’s attempts to make the game close.

“We gave up four touchdowns versus man coverage,” he said. … “If we can defend one of those better than we did, that’s one less touchdown they have, so that’s one play.

“And then let’s take the two series that we have inside the 5-yard line. There in the first half, first-and-goal at the 5, Gerry (Bohanon) is going in to score, the guy comes around, knocks the ball out, we fumble it. We get no points there.

“The last drive offensively, we’re going down to score, get five plays inside the 5, we think we get over the pylon, we don’t — we don’t score there. Well, that’s 14 points. So take away seven of theirs and add 14 of ours, and all of a sudden we’re leading the game by one with eight minutes to go.”

Cincinnati has won the past four meetings between the former Big East foes and leads the all-time series 12-7.

–Field Level Media

Sep 24, 2022; Cincinnati, Ohio, USA; Cincinnati Bearcats quarterback Ben Bryant (6) throws against the Indiana Hoosiers in the third quarter at Nippert Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Kareem Elgazzar/Cincinnati Enquirer via USA TODAY NETWORK

High-scoring offenses, Cincy and Tulsa meet in AAC opener

Cincinnati and host Tulsa likely will keep heads on a swivel Saturday as their respective high-octane offenses clash in the American Athletic Conference opener for both teams.

The defending AAC-champion Bearcats (3-1) are averaging a conference-best 42.5 points per game, while the Golden Hurricane (2-2) are right behind them at 39 points per contest. Tulsa, however, ranks first in the conference in both total offense (507 yards per game) and passing offense (358.5).

Cincinnati, which ranks third in the conference in passing offense (328.3), got off to a fast start last Saturday. Ben Bryant threw three of his four first-half touchdowns to Tyler Scott to fuel the Bearcats to a 45-24 victory over Indiana.

Bryant completed 24 of 40 passes for a career-high-tying 354 yards, marking his third 300-yard passing performance since joining the program as a transfer from Eastern Michigan.

Scott was named AAC Offensive Player of the Week after recording personal-best totals in catches (10) and receiving yards (185).

“Ben Bryant played his butt off,” Bearcats head coach Luke Fickell said. “Tyler Scott had three touchdowns in the first half, there are some really great things. They are going to give us a chance to win a lot of football games.”

Cincinnati’s Ivan Pace Jr. was named AAC Defensive Player of the Week after registering 15 tackles — including 4.5 for loss — and 2.5 sacks against the Hoosiers.

The transfer from Miami (Ohio) will look to provide a disruptive presence versus Tulsa, which squandered an early lead in a 35-27 setback against Ole Miss last Saturday.

“I was proud of our football team in a lot of different ways,” Golden Hurricane head coach Philip Montgomery said. “I thought we played a full 60-minute game, fought through some adversity, gave ourselves a chance to win late.”

Davis Brin threw for a touchdown and rushed for another before exiting midway through the second quarter with an injured right ankle. Receiver Keylon Stokes was briefly knocked out of the game following a helmet-to-helmet hit.

Stokes has 31 receptions for 507 yards and three scores this season.

Montgomery said Tuesday that Brin is day-to-day.

–Field Level Media

Sep 3, 2022; Fayetteville, Arkansas, USA; Arkansas Razorbacks quarterback KJ Jefferson (1) celebrates with offensive lineman Ricky Stromberg (51) and Luke Jones (70) after rushing for a touchdown in the first quarter against the Cincinnati Bearcats at Donald W. Reynolds Razorback Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Nelson Chenault-USA TODAY Sports

No. 19 Arkansas holds off No. 23 Cincinnati, 31-24

KJ Jefferson threw for 223 yards and was responsible for four total touchdowns as No. 19 Arkansas outlasted visiting No. 23 Cincinnati 31-24 in both teams’ season opener in Fayetteville, Ark.

Raheim Sanders racked up 117 rushing yards and tight end Trey Knox caught two touchdowns for the Razorbacks. Jefferson completed 18 of 26 passes and added 62 rushing yards on 18 carries, as Arkansas finished with 224 yards on the ground as a team.

Cincinnati quarterback Ben Bryant went 26-for-43 for 325 yards, two touchdowns and one pick. Corey Kiner ran for 59 yards and a touchdown for the Bearcats, who lost in the regular season for the first time since 2019.

Bryant started the game 5-for-5 before being intercepted by Dwight McGlothern, who managed to return it 51 yards into Cincinnati territory. That set up Jefferson’s 15-yard touchdown run to open the scoring.

Cincinnati’s Ryan Coe missed a 25-yard field goal at the end of the first quarter, and on his second attempt, from 48 yards, he hit the top of the right upright with 1:14 left in the half.

The Razorbacks worked down the field, and Sanders’ 37-yard sweep run to the right brought them to the 5-yard line. Jefferson faked a run up the middle and completed a jump pass over the line to Knox, making it 14-0 at halftime.

Cincinnati opened the second half with a 12-play, 75-yard drive concluding with Kiner’s 5-yard touchdown run. The Cincinnati native transferred this offseason from LSU.

Arkansas responded when Jefferson hooked up with a leaping Jadon Haselwood at the goal line for a 19-yard touchdown. But Bryant floated a 35-yard touchdown pass to a wide-open Nick Mardner to cut the Bearcats’ deficit to 21-14.

On Arkansas’ next drive, Jefferson fumbled the snap on first down and Cincinnati recovered at the Razorbacks’ 3. But the Bearcats proceeded to commit four penalties for 20 yards and had to settle for a field goal on a long fourth-and-goal.

The Razorbacks added a field goal for a 24-17 advantage, and their momentum grew when Jordan Domineck strip-sacked Bryant and recovered the fumble. On the very next play, Jefferson hit Knox on the right sideline and after a great block, he sprinted for a 32-yard touchdown.

Bryant hit Leonard Taylor for a 15-yard score with 5:49 left to play, but Arkansas chewed up the remaining clock, with Jefferson converting two third downs with his legs.

–Field Level Media

Cincinnati Bearcats quarterbacks Evan Prater (3) and Ben Bryant (6) finish a session during a spring practice at Nippert Stadium in Cincinnati on Thursday, March 24, 2022.

Cincinnati Bearcats Spring Practice

Report: Cincinnati to start QB Ben Bryant at Arkansas

Redshirt senior Ben Bryant will start at quarterback for No. 23 Cincinnati on Saturday at No. 19 Arkansas, ESPN reported.

Bearcats coach Luke Fickell previously declined to name a replacement for the departed Desmond Ridder, now a rookie with the Atlanta Falcons.

Bryant competed with redshirt sophomore Evan Prater for the QB1 job throughout the offseason.

Bryant backed up Ridder from 2018-20 before transferring to Eastern Michigan, where he passed for 3,121 yards with 14 touchdowns and seven interceptions in 13 games last season. He transferred back to Cincinnati in January.

The Bearcats are putting a 20-game regular-season winning streak on the line against the Razorbacks.

–Field Level Media