No. 7 Cincinnati bracing for challenge from AAC rival UCF

No. 7 Cincinnati (7-0, 5-0 American Athletic Conference) at UCF (5-2, 4-2), Saturday at 3:30 p.m. EST (ESPN).

Line: Cincinnati by 6.

Series record: UCF 3-2.

WHAT’S AT STAKE?

Cincinnati looks to remain unbeaten, ranked in the Top 10 and on track to appear in the AAC championship game. With an upset, UCF can keep its slim league hopes alive. The Knights would still need some outside help to squeeze back into the race, but beating the Bearcats would be a start.

KEY MATCHUP

It’s a battle of strength vs. strength, with Cincinnati leading the AAC in total defense and UCF pacing the conference in total offense. The Knights are averaging 619.1 yards and 44 points per game. The Bearcats have limited opponents to 300.9 yards and 12.4 points per game.

PLAYERS TO WATCH

Cincinnati: QB Desmond Ridder has thrown for 1,483 yards, 14 touchdowns and six interceptions and is also the team’s second-leading rusher with 469 yards and nine TDs. Leading rusher Gerrid Doaks has run for seven TDs and Jerome Ford has six TDs on the ground. LBs Jarell White, Darrian Beavers and Joel Dublanko lead the defense.

UCF: QB Dillon Gabriel is averaging a nation-leading 396 yards per game passing and has thrown for 23 TDs and just two interceptions. The Knights have a powerful running game (222.3 yards per game) as well, with RBs Otis Anderson and Greg McCrae averaging 5.8 and 5.4 yards per carry, respectively.

FACTS & FIGURES

Cincinnati is 29-5 since 2018, ranking among the top six teams in college football in winning percentage during that span (.848). … The Bearcats rank third nationally in scoring defense, allowing 12.4 points per game while holding its FBS opponents to 17 points or fewer. … Cincinnati reached the AP Top 10 for the first time since the final poll of the 2009 season when the Bearcats were No. 4. … Cincinnati scored 38 points or more in each of the last four games. That’s the first time in school history it’s happened. … The Bearcats’ 12 interceptions lead the AAC and are tied for second in the nation. … UCF is 40-6 since the start of 2017 and has won two of the past three AAC championships. … The Knights have forced a nation-leading 19 turnovers through seven games. … UCF’s high-powered offense gained a season-low 419 yards in last week’s 38-13 victory over Temple.

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More AP college football: https://apnews.com/Collegefootball and https://twitter.com/AP_Top25

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