USF’s matchup against Cincinnati won’t lack any hype, with the teams ranked in both major polls and a Thursday ESPN broadcast.
No. 23 USF, coming off a 34-20 victory over Syracuse on Saturday, hosts No. 8 Cincinnati on Oct. 15 at 7:30 p.m. at Raymond James Stadium in a game that could change the landscape of the Big East championship race.
USF and Cincinnati are two of the eight teams in Division I that have started the season 5-0. Cincinnati blew out Rutgers 47-15 in its season opener and also beat Oregon State 28-18.
Both teams have byes this week.
“It helps a lot because you have extra time to work on things, like film studying. It is going to be helpful,” said senior safety Nate Allen on Saturday. “We get to rest a little bit, too.”
USF defensive coordinator Joe Tresey, a former Bearcats defensive coordinator, said this may be Cincinnati’s best team in the last few years.
“They’re a good football team,” he said. “They’re much more seasoned offensively this year.”
USF hasn’t beaten Cincinnati since 2005. Last year, the Bearcats defeated USF 24-10, one of the Bulls’ five conference losses after being ranked as high as No. 10 in the country early in the year.
This year, Allen said he would like to see a little more consistency.
“We started off strong (last season) and we got to the middle of the season where we started playing Big East games, and we just slumped,” Allen said. “To be great you can’t do that. To be great you need to have a great season.”
Despite being ranked for the third straight season, Allen said the team can’t get caught up in the polls.
“We can’t think about (the rankings),” he said. “We have to stay focused. In the past we have gotten ranked and it got to us.”
Bulls get more Big East honors
For the second consecutive week, a USF player was named the Big East Defensive Player of the Week.
Allen brought in the honor this time with his two interceptions and eight tackles against Syracuse. Last week, junior defensive end Jason Pierre-Paul received the recognition.
Allen leads the team in tackles (29), interceptions (2) and passes defended (5).
“It’s outstanding,” Tresey said. “It’s great when kids get rewarded for their performances. They truly deserve it.”
USF’s defense forced a tied school-record seven turnovers against Syracuse, and Pierre-Paul had an 18-yard interception return for a touchdown.
Junior wide receiver Carlton Mitchell was named to the conference’s weekly honor roll after catching six passes for 139 yards and two touchdowns – both career highs.
Mitchell needs only 205 yards to break the school record in receiving yards for a career.
Soccer player honored
Junior defender Javed Mohammed also received national recognition by being named Monday to the Topsoccerdrawer.com National Team of the Week.
Mohammed assisted each of USF’s two goals against Cincinnati last Wednesday in USF’s 2-0 victory. His four assists are a team-high.