Caleb Taylor | Staff Commentator/Reporter

The Bearcats are entering this week ranked No. 17 in the AP poll and No. 18 in the Coaches poll despite lots of upset action last week. This week Cincinnati will face off against the 3-5 East Carolina Pirates. East Carolina is 0-4 in the conference and have given up over 40 points in each of their last two matchups. UC, on the other hand, is first in the American Athletic Conference East division, boasting a 6-1 record and a 3-0 conference record coming into Saturday’s matchup. This will be a big weekend for the American Athletic Conference, as College Gameday is traveling to Memphis for the SMU-Memphis game, which will also be the ABC prime time game of the week.

Cincinnati is coming off their second bye week, and before that a little-closer-than-predicted win over Tulsa. Cincinnati did, however, play phenomenal defense in its previous game. The strong Bearcats defense was able to force five turnovers out of Tulsa, three of which were fumbles forced out of the hands of quarterback Zach Smith. Senior linebacker Perry Young came up big with 13 total tackles. Safeties Ja’von Hicks (So.) and Darrick Forest (Jr.) each added interceptions.

Against Tulsa, the offense was slower than normal for the Bearcats. Junior running back Gerrid Doaks carried UC with two touchdowns on the ground and one in the air. He also ran for 91 yards. Michael Warren was a contributor, but did not perform as normal adding only 35 yards on 13 carries. Warren is listed as questionable entering Saturday’s matchup. Quarterback Desmond Ridder (So.) was able to keep the ball out of enemy hands last week and was 12/22 passing with 172 yards and a TD.

For the Pirates offense, they like to throw the ball. ECU averages 218.9 yards through the air per game and quarterback Holton Ahlers has thrown for 1,672 yards so far this season. The UC secondary should come ready as Ahlers has thrown seven interceptions. Running the ball for East Carolina is freshman Demetrius Mauney, who has 368 yards on 91 carries. The Pirates defense is allowing over 417 yards per game and 28.3 points. Those numbers favor the Bearcats heavily allowing them to get their offense rolling again after the slow game against Tulsa. Cincinnati is favored by 24 points on Saturday and beat the Pirates 56-6 last year in Nippert Stadium.

You can catch the Bearcats at the Pirates on CBSSports Network at 7 p.m. or listen on 700 WLW.

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