No. 25 Cincinnati (4-1, 1-0 AAC) at Houston (2-3, 0-1), Saturday at 3:30 p.m. EDT (ESPN2).
Line: Cincinnati by 7 1/2.
Series record: Houston leads 15-10.
WHAT’S AT STAKE?
The Bearcats got the inside track in the American Athletic East by upsetting then-No. 18 UCF 27-24 at Nippert Stadium, moving ahead of the two-time defending champs. They can’t afford a letdown a week later against a rebuilding team. The Cougars are looking to get settled under sophomore quarterback Clayton Tune, who made his first start of the season in a 45-26 win at North Texas.
Tune vs. Cincinnati’s secondary: The Bearcats picked off UCF’s Dillon Gabriel three times, returning one of the interceptions for a touchdown, as the defense led the way. Tune started the last two games last season and moved back into the role when D’Eriq King decided to redshirt. Tune avoided turnovers against North Texas, but will be facing one of the AAC’s top defenses Saturday.
PLAYERS TO WATCH
Houston: With Tune easing into the starting role, the Cougars relied on senior running back Patrick Carr. He ran for three touchdowns and matched his career high with 139 yards rushing, including a 68-yard touchdown on the opening drive.
Cincinnati: Michael Warren II ran for 133 yards and had a key 60-yard run during the Bearcats’ rally in the second half against UCF. He’ll be facing a defense that’s among the worst in the AAC at stopping the run, allowing 178.8 yards per game.
FACTS & FIGURES
Cincinnati is ranked for the first time since the end of last season, when it went 11-2 and finished 24th in the poll. … The Bearcats snapped UCF’s streak of 29 consecutive AAC wins and 31 straight games scoring at least 30 points. … Cincinnati had four takeaways against the Knights — three interceptions and a fumble recovery. … Houston plays its first home game in 35 days. … Marquez Stevenson had an 82-yard kick return for a TD and Bryson Smith returned a punt 60 yards for a score against North Texas. Houston leads the AAC in punt return average and is third in kickoff return average.
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