Ridder breaks Cincinnati TD record, Bearcats beat USF

Jeremy Reper-USA TODAY Sports
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TAMPA, Fla. — Desmond Ridder threw two touchdown passes to break the Cincinnati career record and ran for a score to help the No. 2 Bearcats beat South Florida 45-28 on Friday night.

Cincinnati (10-0, 6-0 American Athletic, No. 5 CFP), one of four unbeaten FBS teams, has started the season with 10 consecutive wins for just the second time in school history. The Bearcats also did it in 2009, when they got off to a 12-0 start.

Ridder broke the school record with this 79th touchdown pass, a 21-yard strike to Josh Whyle early in the third that made it 31-7. Gino Guidugli, now Cincinnati’s quarterbacks coach and passing game coordinator, had 78 scoring passes from 2001-04.

Ridder completed 31 of 39 passes for 304 yards, and ran for 65 yards on 13 carries.

The Bearcats played without running back Jerome Ford due to a leg injury that happened during last week against Tulsa. Ford has 888 yards and 15 rushing touchdowns.

Jaren Mangham had two rushing TDs for South Florida (2-8, 1-5), which has lost 19 consecutive games against teams ranked in the top 20 since upsetting Notre Dame on the road in October 2011. He has 15 touchdowns on the ground this season, tied for second-most in USF history.

Freshman Timmy McClain completed 16 of 29 passes for 245 yards. His 80-yard hookup with Jimmy Horn Jr. got USF to 31-21 late in the third quarter, and he added a 2-yard TD run that the cut deficit to 38-28 with six minutes to play.

Ridder had a 13-yard TD run, connected on a 1-yard scoring strike to Tre Tucker, and Alex Bales made a 27-yard field goal during the second quarter as the Bearcats took a 24-7 lead.

After turning the ball over on its first and fourth plays on offense, Cincinnati tied it at 7 when Ryan Montgomery scored on a 12-yard dash with 2:57 left in the first. He had a 55-yard TD run with just over a minute remaining and finished with 72 yards on six carries.

USF took a 7-0 lead midway through the opening quarter when Mangham had a 2-yard TD run.

Cincinnati limited USF to 39 first-half yards.

THE TAKEAWAY

Cincinnati: Had several costly first-half penalties, including an offside call that gave USF a first down in a punting situation, and an ineligible receiver downfield that negated a Ridder TD pass. The Bearcats struggled to close out the win, allowing three long second-half scoring drives and losing a fumble at USF 1 early in the fourth.

USF: Had periods of success against a top-20 team for the second straight week. The Bulls lost 54-42 to then No. 20 Houston last week.

POLL IMPLICATIONS:

Cincinnati will remain near the top in the AP poll but it remains to be seen how the voters will look at the relatively close win over USF.

SPECIAL NIGHT

USF G Michael Wiggs was honored on senior’s night and then proposed to his girlfriend during the onfield pregame ceremony.

UP NEXT

Cincinnati: Hosts SMU on Nov. 20.

USF: At Tulane on Nov. 20.

Florida shakes up secondary after dismal game at Tennessee

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GAINESVILLE, Fla. — Florida coach Billy Napier is shaking up his secondary after the Gators allowed 349 yards passing – including 247 of those on eight plays – in a loss at Tennessee.

Safety Trey Dean, a fifth-year senior who has started 32 games and played in 54, is out with what Florida is calling a “lower leg injury.” But no one would be surprised if Napier was quietly benching Dean after he made two mental errors against the Volunteers that resulted in 70- and 45-yard gains and set up touchdowns.

Freshman Kamari Wilson will replace Dean and make his first college start Sunday against Eastern Washington.

Cornerback Jaydon Hill will join Wilson in the starting lineup. Hill, a third-year sophomore, will make his first start since 2020. He missed the 2021 season with a torn knee ligament. He impressed Napier and his new staff in the spring but sat out preseason camp with another knee injury.

Hill will replace sophomore Avery Helm, who also struggled against the Vols.

“You talk about what he’s been through from an injury perspective,” Napier said following practice Wednesday. “Jaydon was one of the better players that we had on our team in spring practice. I was very impressed . It’s no surprise to me. He showed pretty quickly here that he’s very capable. I’m excited to watch him play.”

Georgia transfer Jalen Kimber, a former five-star recruit, is now listed as a third-team cornerback. Kimber played just 11 snaps in Knoxville a week after he returned an interception for a touchdown in a 31-28 win against South Florida.

“I like to say we try to eliminate the bad football,” Napier said. “Talking about mental errors, misalignments, poor communication, bad fundamentals and techniques, bad decision-making within the play. … We have a laundry list of things that we need to eliminate each week.

“Last week’s game, I thought we were really close, but there’s 12 or 15 plays in the game where Florida is beating Florida. We’ve got a smart group here. I think they’re very aware of what the issues are, and I think they’re working hard to address those issues.”

Pac-12 looking stronger at top after early-season losses

James Snook-USA TODAY Sports
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When Oregon got throttled by top-ranked Georgia and Utah lost at Florida, it appeared as though the Pac-12 was headed toward another College Football Playoff miss.

One week into the season and two of the conference’s top teams had already failed big early tests.

Flash forward three weeks and it seems the Pac-12 might be in good shape after all.

The Ducks and Utes bounced back with big wins and the top of the conference looks strong, with four teams in the top 15 for the first time since 2016.

It’s still early, but the Pac-12 is putting itself in position to get a team through to the CFP for the first time since Washington in 2016-17.

A look at how the top of the Pac-12 is stacking up headed into the first weekend of October:

SOUTHERN CALIFORNIA

The No. 6 Trojans (4-0, 2-0 Pac-12) seem to have quickly returned to glory in their first season under Lincoln Riley. The former Oklahoma coach brought quarterback Caleb Williams with him to Southern California and they have thrived through the first four games.

Williams has thrown for 1,054 yards and nine touchdowns, adding 100 yards and two more scores rushing. USC’s defense has been opportunistic, leading the nation with 11 interceptions while tied for the lead with 14 takeaways.

The Trojans survived a scare against scrappy Oregon State over the weekend to start 4-0 for the first time since 2012. USC has to play at Utah on Oct. 15, but avoids Washington and Oregon this season.

UTAH

The 12th-ranked Utes opened the season with a tough road loss at The Swamp in Florida, but have won three straight lopsided games.

Outside of a costly interception late against the Gators, quarterback Cam Rising has been sharp, throwing for 954 yards and 10 TDs. Utah (3-1, 1-0) has a physical defense and is third in the FBS, allowing 132.8 yards passing per game.

The Utes also have a veteran team that won the Pac-12 championship last season. The bad news: tight end Brant Kuithe, their leading receiver, is out for the season with a knee injury.

Utah plays Oregon State this weekend and has tough games against USC and Oregon still on the schedule.

OREGON

The Ducks’ playoff chances took an immediate hit with a 49-3 loss to reigning national champion Georgia in their opener.

No. 13 Oregon (3-1, 1-0) bounced back with a decisive win over a good BYU team and outlasted previously undefeated Washington State 44-41 last week.

The Ducks were no match for the Bulldogs in any aspect – few teams are – but have averaged 51.6 points the past three games. Oregon’s biggest weakness is its pass defense. The Ducks are allowing 72.5% of passes to be completed, third worst in the country.

Oregon’s biggest tests left in the season will come in back to back games against Washington and Utah.

WASHINGTON

The Huskies have made a quick turnaround in their first season under coach Kalen DeBoer.

Quarterback Michael Penix Jr. has been superb now that he’s healthy, throwing for an FBS-best 1,388 yards and 12 TDs with one interception. No. 15 Washington (4-0, 1-0) picked up a solid home win against Michigan State and has 15 sacks this season, including eight against Stanford last week.

The Huskies play their first road game at undefeated UCLA on Saturday and have to face Oregon on Nov. 12.

UCLA

After winning at Colorado for the first time since 2014 last Saturday, the Bruins (4-0, 1-0 Pac-12) have their longest winning streak since winning the first eight games in 2005.

UCLA had a hard time getting past South Alabama and opened its Pac-12 schedule with a win against the struggling Buffaloes.

The Bruins will find out how good they are over the next three weeks, a brutal stretch that includes home games against Washington and Utah before heading to Eugene to play the Ducks on Oct. 22.