No. 5/6 Cincinnati Bearcats open AAC play with 52-3 rout of Temple at Nippert Stadium.
The last three meetings between Temple and Luke Fickell’s Bearcats at the University of Cincinnati were all tight.
The most recent episode of the series, however, was not.
No. 5/6-ranked (Associated Press/Coaches) Cincinnati cruised to a 52-3 win against the Owls in front of a sold-out crowd at Nippert Stadium on Friday night.
Desmond Ridder had three passing touchdowns, Jerome Ford added two rushing touchdowns, and the Bearcats defense was stifling.
“The audience was incredible,” Fickell remarked. “That’s the most impressive I’ve seen.
Returning home was a dream come true. It’s been three weeks since we’ve had the chance to visit Nipp.
It was incredible to be there at night, with the student section,
the audience, and everything as charged as it was.”
The victory was the Bearcats’ (5-0) 23rd in a row at home, as they began American Athletic Conference play with a win in front of 37,978 spectators.
Ridder surpassed the 8,000-yard milestone in his career after completing 22 of 30 passes for 259 yards. Only UC passing game coordinator, quarterbacks coach,
and UC Athletics Hall of Famer Gino Guidugli has more throwing yards than the fifth-year senior.
The “Blackcats” defense produced six sacks,
eight tackles for loss, and an interception by cornerback Coby Bryant, holding the Owls (3-3, 1-1 AAC) to 226 total yards, including 76 running yards.
“Knowing that we have a fantastic 11 men out there – to 20 people that can cycle in and out – that’s going to lock things down makes my job a lot simpler,” Ridder said of the defense.
“It’s simply enjoyable to see them wreak havoc when I have the chance.”
Temple was victorious in the coin toss and chose to receive.
Ridder and the Cincinnati offense marched 48 yards after the Owls stopped at their own 41-yard line,
but were forced to settle for a 30-yard field goal by kicker Cole Smith. Smith got off to a solid start after missing two kicks last week in South Bend.
However, with 2:44 left in the second quarter, the senior missed his second try from 44 yards out.
Smith has made three of his eight field-goal attempts this season.
He was one of Cincinnati’s few flaws of the night.
“He kicked the ball very well for us last year and made some really important kicks for us,
and he kicked the ball incredibly well today and we won,” Fickell said. “When you get into the longer ones,
your confidence may be a little shaky. But, once again, we have complete faith in him and know he’ll go right back to work.
The Bearcats’ Ja’von Hicks recovered the ball at the 13-yard line after Temple wide receiver Jadan Blue muffed a punt at his own 17-yard line.
Ridder tossed it up to Alec Pierce after Ryan Montgomery’s four-yard run
, and the wideout snagged it over Temple CB Cameron Ruiz in the end zone to make it 10-0 with 2:52 left in the first quarter.
Pierce had six receptions for 93 yards and a touchdown.
Pierce has 16 receptions for 323 yards and two scores in the past three games.
Fickell said of Ridder and Pierce, “Those two have a very strong chemistry right now and a pretty unusual connection.”
At the 9:42 mark of the second quarter, Cincinnati running back Jerome Ford ran in virtually unchallenged from 8 yards out to give the Bengals a 17-0 lead.
With 5:27 remaining in the first half, Temple freshman kicker Rory Bell, a Wilmington,
Ohio native nailed a 55-yard field goal to put the Owls on the board.
Ford broke free for a 75-yard touchdown on the opening play of the second half,
putting the game out of reach at 24-3. Ford’s touchdown was his eighth of the season and his second of the game. Ford got an overall score of eight in 2020.
Ford rushed for 149 yards on 15 attempts.
“It was entertaining,” Ford remarked. “Today, the offensive line really got into it, moving people about.
They were in charge today.”
Temple’s second punt of the game, this time by Amad Anderson, was muffed.
Jr. Ridder and Tyler Scott connected for a 38-yard touchdown for Ridder and the offense.
With 11 minutes left in the third quarter, the sophomore wide receiver performed most of the effort after the catch to make it 30-3.
Charles McClelland, a Cincinnati junior running back who has had his ACL torn in each of the last two seasons, got in on the action with a 28-yard touchdown run. At 7:45 in the third quarter,
McClelland’s first touchdown run since the 2018 regular-season finale gave the Bearcats a comfortable 37-3 lead.
Ford joked about McClelland,
saying, “(It was) like Forrest Gump getting out of his leg braces.”
Ridder’s third touchdown of the game came at the conclusion of the third quarter on an 11-yard pass to Michael Young Jr.
Young’s first touchdown of the season put the game out of reach at 45-3.
With 10:15 remaining, running back Ethan Wright completed the Bearcats’ scoring with a 58-yard romp past the Temple defense.
On Oct. 16, Cincinnati will play UCF at home for the second time. The game will begin at 12 p.m. on ABC.
“We’re just up 1-0,” Ridder said. “Many people think about 5-0, but we’re now 1-0 heading into conference play. We’re going to take it week by week, go in here and prepare for another huge game,
this time against UCF at home.
We know they’ll come in hungry, so we’ll just prepare like we do every week and come out here and play well.