ORLANDO – Cincinnati Bearcats fall falls this evening, in its biggest game during many seasons. Here are live updates from No. 24 Bearcats game vs 11 UCF Saturday night here at Spectrum Stadium, in an American Athletic Conference East Division showdown for first place.
Updated 11:09 p.m.: UC led early but things then went south on Bearcats, which trailed 35-6 early in the fourth quarter. A nine-farm TD run by Greg McCrae put the knights up 35-6 by 13:05 left.
Lack of a major breakthrough was among several shortcomings for UC.
The knights took a 28-6 lead at 5:10 in the third quarter, when they drove back Adrian Killin's Jr. Angry Spade Pass (from QB McKenzie Milton) to a 42-yard touchdown.
It was a ragged, sloppy first half for UC, including seven penalty and failure to score three points in the UCF 30-yard line. The UCF defense also rejected quarterback Desmond Ridder three times.
Bottom line, UC has not met a team with so much speed and speed throughout the year, on both sides of the ball.
Previous reporting: UC fell behind 21-6 on a 36-yard pass from Milton to wideout Tre Nixon at 5:38 left at half past time. UCF's circumference rate began to take a toll on UC.
UCF took a 14-6 lead on a 22-yard touchdown pass from Milton, a route to run back Adrian Killin's Jr., just five seconds into the second quarter.
UCF took a 7-6 lead at UC with a 3-yard touchdown run by Milton, with 5:28 left in the first quarter.
Bearcats took a 6-0 lead at 10:33 left in the first quarter when hybrid safety / linebacker Malik Clements kicked Milton on the knights first scrimmage game.
Defensive end Kimoni Fitz recovered the ball in the final zone for a UC touchdown, but Cole Smith missed the PAT kick and the score was 6-0.
Smith's rough start continued when he missed a 39-meter field goal attempt at 7:03 left in the first quarter. It would have given UC a lead of 9-0.
Then, Smith had a goal of 41 yard field goals blocked late in the first quarter, with a UCF's 53-foot return to Bearcats 22 yard line.
The Bearcats had trouble just coming over the match, with Knight just 7-for-18 for 84 meters in the first half. The running game was quite effective in running back Michael Warren II (59 first half) and Ridder (50), but Bearcats could not produce an offensive score before half-time.
Just before the match, the press box shook when UCF fans jumped in consensus and waited for the team's arrival in the field. A sales volume of 44,000 plus is here, including several hundred UC fans and Bearcats cheerleading group.
UC got fired but had an unfortunate start, with a delay of game punishment and then a fake start to his first two games. UC made up for a first down to start the series, thanks to two runs for 23 meters by Knight.
UC was then forced to third and 9 and was not converted, leading to a point by James Smith. It set up Bearcats first touchdown.
Senior Center Garrett Campbell was back in the UC exhibition after breaking his ankle on September 29 against UConn.
It was 64 degrees and clear at the kickoff.
UC (9-1, 5-1 AAC East of the Night) was facing UCF (9-0, 6-0 AAC) in a game with AAC East title implications. If Cincinnati wins, Temple (6-1 AAC East) would still live for the AAC East title with a game left. An UCF winning Saturday will be the division of the knights.
With several tiebreaker scenarios in place, head-to-competition is the first consideration. If there is a three-way first place tie, tiebreakers can move multiple notes down to whoever has the best CFP score (College Football Playoff).
UC last week got his first ranking in a College Football Playoff survey, checking in at No. 24. UCF ranked No. 11.
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UC was a 7.5-point underdog Saturday, with the ESPN Matchup Predictor giving UCF a 70.1 percent chance of winning.
For UC, it was one of the most significant games since Orange Bowl and Sugar Bowl seasons a decade ago under Brian Kelly. The Bearcats this year came from two straight 4-8 seasons.
UC last won a league title 2014, when Bearcats shared the AAC championship. That year, the AAC groups were still grouped in a league, as the division's games had not begun.
UCF entered 22 successive wins, the longest active stretch nationally.
After this weekend, each team has a game left in the regular season. UC will meet East Carolina next Friday at the Nippert Stadium.
Cincinnati – 6-0-0-0
UCF – 7-14-7-7
Cin-Fitz fumble recovery in the end zone (kick failed)
UCF-Milton 3 run (Wright kick)
UCF-Killins 22 passes from Milton (Wright kick)
UCF-Nixon 36 passes from Milton (Wright kick)
UCF-Killins 42 passes from Milton (Wright kick)
UCF-McCrae 9 run (Wright kick)