Photo courtesy of Cincinnati athletics
The nation’s top two teams made statements this week.
Alabama and Georgia blew away top-15 competition in the SEC with victories over Ole Miss and Arkansas, respectively. The top-10 match-up that fewer people were talking about however, saw a team from the American Athletic Conference make a major statement.
Following an impressive 24-13 road win over Notre Dame, Cincinnati earns Fifth Quarter/CFBHome Team of the Week honors for Week 5. The No. 7 Bearcats went into historic Notre Dame Stadium and dominated the ninth-ranked Fighting Irish.
Getting “Rid” of the Doubters
The key to Cincinnati’s victory on Saturday was a big second quarter and the outstanding play of quarterback Desmond Ridder. The Cincinnati signal caller has been known as a dual-threat, but in South Bend, he used his arm to torch the Irish.
The senior finished with 297 yards passing and three total touchdowns without an interception. Alec Pierce was the top pass catcher for the Bearcats, finishing with six catches for 144 yards.
After a scoreless first quarter, Cincinnati outscored Notre Dame 17-0 in the second. Touchdowns by Notre Dame’s Kyren Williams and Braden Lenzy cut the lead to four midway through the fourth quarter, but Ridder proceeded to put the Irish away.
Ridder was 3-for-3 on the game-sealing drive before adding the 6-yard touchdown run. The drive lasted six plays and went 75 yards. Jerome Ford added runs of 16 and 11 yards.
The Cincinnati defense held Notre Dame to 341 yards and forced three turnovers. Ty Van Fossen finished with a game-high eight tackles in the win. Curtis Brooks had 1.5 of the seven tackles for loss in the victory.
Deshawn Pace and Ahmad Gardner each came away with interceptions in the win. Gardner’s pick came nearly the goal lone on Notre Dame’s opening drive. Pace’s set up the game’s first touchdown.
Streaks and Firsts
With the victory, Cincinnati has now won 13 straight regular season games. Among Group of 5 teams, only Coastal Carolina has a longer streak.
Cincinnati’s win also snapped Notre Dame’s 26-game home winning streak. The victory for Cincinnati is its first over a top-10 team since beating No. 7 Rutgers in 2006.
With the road win over No. 9 Notre Dame, Cincinnati may stand the best chance yet for a Group of 5 school to reach the College Football Playoff. In this week’s AP Poll, the Bearcats moved up to No. 5 in the AP Poll and No. 6 in Coaches Poll.
Notre Dame fell to No. 14 in the AP Poll and No. 13 in the Coaches Poll. The Fighting Irish will try to bounce back when they visit Virginia Tech on Saturday.
Now a top-5 team, head coach Luke Fickell and Cincinnati will try to keep the momentum going as it hosts Temple to open AAC play on Friday night. The contest begins at 7 p.m. ET and airs nationally on ESPN.
Mike Ferguson is the managing editor for Fifth Quarter. Be sure to follow Mike on Twitter at @MikeWFerguson. Follow all of Mike’s work by liking his Facebook page.