Know the foe: Cincinnati
A look at Cincinnati, which faces No. 18 USF on Saturday at Raymond James Stadium
Record: 2-4 (0-2 American Athletic Conference)
Wins: vs. Austin Peay, 26-14; at Miami (Ohio), 21-17
Losses: at Michigan, 36-14; at Navy, 42-32; vs. Marshall, 38-21; vs. UCF, 51-23
Coach: Luke Fickell (first season at Cincinnati, 2-4; second season overall, 8-11)
The breakdown: USF's early-season struggle to break briskly out of the gate has nothing on the Bearcats' slow starts. During its current three-game skid, Cincinnati has spotted a 13-0 first-quarter lead to UCF, a 24-0 first-half advantage to Marshall and a 13-0 first-period lead to Navy. ... Though his efficiency rating (108.8) could improve, veteran QB Hayden Moore is having a decent year (1,097 passing yards, nine TDs, four INTs) and distributing the ball well, but is getting no run support. The Bearcats rank 117th nationally in rushing (102.2 ypg), though their early deficits force them to pass to play catch-up. Not helping matters is the fact their best back, 205-pound senior Mike Boone, has been slowed by a nagging ankle injury. ... Defensively, Cincy was embarrassed vertically by UCF, with QB McKenzie Milton tossing three touchdown passes of 41 or more yards. That dissection occurred even after Fickell slid a cornerback, Grant Coleman, to safety to enhance the Bearcats' speed in the back end. ... Cincy has exactly two interceptions this season and is averaging one sack a game, which ranks 113th in the country. Little wonder the Bearcats rank 86th in Division I in turnover margin (minus-0.33).
Odds and ends: The Bearcats' roster features 12 Floridians including cornerbacks Christian Angulo (East Bay) and Rashaad Stewart (CCC). No longer around is Bulls TB D'Ernest Johnson's brother, Tshumbi, a former Bearcats receiver who transferred to Valdosta (Ga.) State. ... Moore has attempted every pass for Cincinnati this season. ... The Bearcats have allowed opponents to score on only 73.7 percent of their trips inside the red zone (14-of-19), which ranks third in the AAC.
Audible: "We keep getting ourselves way behind and having to fight out of a hole. It's draining on our program, on our kids. It wasn't from a lack of effort or things like that, but we're definitely seeing some of the after-effects of being in the hole all the time and having to fight back, just from the energy that we can provide." -- Fickell