Quarterback Desmond Ridder accounted for five touchdowns – including one receiving — and No. 5 Cincinnati defeated visiting SMU 48-14 on Saturday.
The Bearcats (11-0, 7-0 American Athletic Conference) will play No. 24 Houston in the conference championship game on Dec. 4. Cincinnati, as the higher seed, is in line to host if it wins at East Carolina on Friday.
Ridder threw three TDs, ran for one and caught a 5-yard pass from wide receiver Jordan Jones on a flea-flicker early in the third quarter to make it 34-0.
SMU (8-3, 4-3) was supposed to present a challenge as the AAC’s leader in total offense (498.7 yards per game) and scoring offense (41.6), but the Mustangs were blanked until 8:32 remained in the game on a 2-yard run by Tre Siggers against the Bearcats’ reserves.
Ridder was 17 of 23 for 274 yards. He had three carries for 46 yards, including a 40-yard TD run at 13:37 of the second quarter to make 20-0.
He became the third FBS quarterback to win 42 games (42-5) and moved to 25-0 at Nippert Stadium for his career.
The Bearcats got a 4-yard TD run by Jerome Ford with five minutes left in the first quarter for a 14-0 lead after Ridder opened the scoring with a 53-yard strike three minutes into the game. Ford rushed for 82 yards.
Cincinnati is the only FBS team ranked in the top 10 in scoring offense (39.2, ninth) and scoring defense (16.2, eighth), and the Bearcats exploited the Mustangs on both sides of the ball.
SMU quarterback Tanner Mordecai was averaging 326.4 passing yards a game but finished 15 for 26 for 66 yards.
Cincinnati had 544 total yards (295 pass, 249 rush). SMU gained 199 yards (66, 133).
With the win, Cincinnati’s fourth-year seniors are 42-6 and the fifth-year seniors are 46-14.
SMU finishes the regular season hosting Tulsa on Nov. 27.
–Field Level Media