DALLAS (AP) – Desmond Ridder had an upset stomach that briefly sent him to the injury tent. On the field, the Cincinnati quarterback was nothing but trouble for the SMU.
Ridder ran 179 yards in just eight runs and scored three touchdowns, including a 91-yarder in the fourth quarter. He also threw for 126 yards and a score to help No. 9 Cincinnati beat No. 16 SMU 42-13 in a showdown by undefeated teams on Saturday night.
Cincinnati (4-0, 2-0 American Athletic Conference) played their first game since October 3. The Bearcats had an open date the following weekend and then had their scheduled home game against Tulsa on October 17 due to positive COVID-19 cases in Cincinnati and the quarantine of athletes at school.
Ridder completed 13 of 21 passes. He had scoring runs of 15, 32 and 91 yards and tossed a 7-yard touchdown pass to Josh Whyle to open the scoring.
“We see it every day,” said Cincinnati trainer Luke Fickell. “I was just waiting for more people to see it. He really showed what he is when the going gets really tough. He does his best job when the heat is on. “
The 91-yard touchdown on the left sideline with no one in front of him in the final 60 yards put Cincinnati in the lead 4:26 and eventually took away an SMU team that threatened to return to the US game earlier in the quarter.
“We just didn’t do the routine things we normally do to give ourselves the chance to at least be in the game,” said SMU coach Sonny Dykes. “I bet we dropped 10 balls. If you do that, you have no chance of being competitive in the ball game. “
Gerrid Doaks put the finishing touches to the Bearcats’ next possession with his 35-yard touchdown run with a 2:03 left. Doaks ran 105 yards with 20 runs, with another 1 yard touchdown run.
Shane Buechele tossed Rashee Rice a 9-yard touchdown pass, and Chris Naggar scored for the SMU field goals of 26 and 22 yards (5-1, 2-1). The Mustangs lagged behind the opening with six straight wins for the second straight season.
The Mustangs went into play fourth on the offensive among the FBS teams but were controlled by a Cincinnati defense who finished 12th on defense. Buechele averaged 342 passes per game, fifth in the FBS, but was held at 216 yards and threw his first intercept since the season opener.
The SMU averaged 42.6 points per game, ranked seventh in the FBS, and had been held at a low of 30 before Cincinnati came to town. The Mustangs were 7 for 20 on third runs and allowed five sacks.
“It’s really hard to convert third-and-longs against a really good defense,” said Büchele. “We were in the game until the middle of the fourth quarter and then they ran away with it.”
During the previous SMU home game, stadium security personnel ordered the student seating area on the lawn behind the zone at the south end to be vacated due to non-compliance with the COVID-19 security protocol. On Saturday evening, most of the guests sitting on the lawn stayed in the newly lined boxing areas. There was an announcement reminding these fans of the minutes early on.
Cincinnati: The Bearcats joined Houston and Tulsa with 2-0 records at the conference. With Saturday’s loss to Penn State # 8, the Bearcats are able to climb at least one spot on The Associated Press poll to reach their highest rank of the season.
SMU: Reggie Roberson Jr., top receiver, and TJ McDaniel (# 1) were lost to an injury in the October 3rd win against Memphis. The Mustangs made up for their absence with a 37-34 overtime win at Tulane last week, but not against the Bearcats.
Cincinnati: Host Memphis this coming Saturday.
SMU: Hosts Navy next Saturday.