College Football: #23 USF @ Cincinnati

October 30th, 2008

#23 USF @ Cincinnati 7:30PM EST on ESPN

This Big East game features two teams looking to stick around in the wide-open conference race. The Bulls (6-2, 1-2) have already lost twice in conference play following last week's defeat at Louisville and despite how unpredictable the race has been they're on their last gasp in the Queen City. The Bearcats (5-2, 1-1), on the other hand, suffered their first league defeat at Connecticut last week by a 40-16 final. What cost the Bearcats in that game was a combination of turnovers and the inability to convert third downs.

In two conference games this year Cincinnati has failed to convert one third down. And considering the fact that USF is second in the Big East in third-down defense (30.5% allowed), that's not a good way to head into this game. USF, who leads the Big East in total offense, also leads the conference in third down percentage with a conversion rate of 46.2%. QB Matt Grothe is the leader of head coach Jim Leavitt's offense, and he leads the Big East in passing, pass efficiency and total offense. The Bearcats will have their hands full containing Grothe and his supporting cast of capable skill players.

As for the quarterback situation for Cincinnati head coach Brian Kelly, it's rather cloudy these days. Tony Pike returned to the lineup after breaking his left forearm against Akron, only to leave the game last week due to injury. Chazz Anderson, who replaced Pike admirably in their win at Marshall, didn't have the golden touch last weekend and who starts is a gametime decision. But whoever goes will have the fortune of one of the conference's best receiving corps, led by Mardy Gilyard and Dominick Goodman. Gilyard and Goodman rank second and third in the Big East in receiving yards, and Gilyard is also the league's top kick returner.

As for who wins this game look for the Bulls defense, led by now-healthy DE George Selvie, to get after the Cincinnati quarterbacks and force some turnovers in a USF victory.

Injury Updates

- Clemson RB C.J. Spiller is expected to be ready for the Tigers' visit to Boston College on Saturday. Spiller, who was hurt (hamstring) in the first half of their loss to Wake Forest, also missed Clemson's home loss to Georgia Tech two weeks ago.

- Louisville WR Scott Long was declared out for the season after tearing the ACL in his right knee in practice on Tuesday night, according to Louisville assistant SID Rocco Gasparro. Long was the Cardinals' leading receiver this season.

- North Carolina QB T.J. Yates was cleared to practice this week, taking part in individual drills and skeleton (7-on-7) work, according to's Heather Dinich. Yates was out with a broken ankle suffered in the Heels' home loss to Virginia Tech in late-September.