Saturday, Oct. 3, Nippert Stadium, Cincinnati, Ohio, 3:30 p.m. ET
South Florida Bulls
North Carolina transfer quarterback Cade Fortin should be available for the Bulls after recovering form coronavirus issues that have kept him out of the first two games. Fortin should give some life to a passing game that has produced only 227 yards in two games under last year’s starter Jordan McCloud. McCloud is 19 of 30 passing for 132 yards and has the Bulls’ only touchdown pass.
Noah Johnson, also a transfer (Alcorn State), and freshman Katravis Marsh are a combined 11 of 24 for 95 yards in two appearances each. Fortin made two starts in four games as a freshman at North Carolina in 2018 and sat out last season after entering the transfer portal. The Bulls have rushed for 408 yards, but 302 of the Bulls’ total came in the opener against The Citadel when they beat the FCS foe 27-6.
Johnny Ford leads all rushers with his 141 yards divided almost equally with 71 against The Citadel and 70 in the 52-0 loss at Notre Dame.
The Bearcats will be playing their third consecutive game at home in beginning AAC play against the Bulls. Desmond Ridder has gone over the 5,000-yard mark passing for his career (5,063) after completing just under 60 percent of his passes for 454 yards the first two games. He has only a net 43 yards rushing but also has a 38-yard run to his credit.
Michael Young has a team-high seven receptions but his 70 receiving yards are second to Gerrid Doaks’ 124 on five catches, a 24.8 average. Jarell White, the conference Defensive Player of the Week after making 15 tackles against Army, leads the defense in tackles with 20 stops, half of them solo efforts. Thanks in part to having run-happy Army to just 44 passing yards, the Bearcats have yielded only 307 yards through the air in wins over Austin Peay and Army.
South Florida Bulls at Cincinnati Bearcats Betting Pick
Coach Jeff Scott said he expects one or more of his players will miss the game because of COVID-19 reasons. Several players sat out the loss to Notre Dame, though names were not released, and the Bulls’ scheduled game against Florida Atlantic last week was canceled because Notre Dame had reported several positive coronavirus tests following the Bulls’ trip to South Bend.
“I’m looking forward to the day where I can say we have zero,” Scott said, “but it seems like we are probably going to be in this position all year long as we continue to try and play safely.”
South Florida Bulls at Cincinnati Bearcats Betting Pick: Bearcats (-21.5) 35, Bulls (+21.5) 7
South Florida Bulls at Cincinnati Bearcats Best Bet
Only immediate family members will be admitted to Nippert Stadium because of coronavirus precautions so the Bearcats won’t have a huge home crowd behind them, but they probably won’t need it any way.
The Bulls have struggled to get their offense going both on the ground (discounting the win over The Citadel) and through the air. Cincy’s defense held Army to a season-low 182 yards rushing in a 24-10 win over the Black Knights last week.
South Florida Bulls at Cincinnati Bearcats Best Bet: Bearcats to COVER