No. 5 Bearcats remain unbeaten
CINCINNATI — Far from perfect, No. 5 Cincinnati was good enough to stay unbeaten.
Tony Pike threw two touchdown passes in a cameo appearance last night, and the Bearcats overcame a self-destructive first half to beat West Virginia, 24-21, for the best start in school history.
Cincinnati (10-0, 6-0 Big East) struggled offensively because of uncharacteristic mistakes — a fumble, a dropped touchdown pass, a missed field goal, and an interception — all in the first half.
Isaiah Pead ran for a career-high 175 yards, and sophomore Zach Collaros threw for 205 yards in his fourth start for Pike, who is recovering from an injury to his non-throwing arm.
West Virginia (7-3, 3-2) took advantage of the mistakes to keep it close.
The Mountaineers wasted a chance with 5:23 left, going for it on fourth-and-8 from the Cincinnati 24-yard line. Jarrett Brown's pass into the end zone while under pressure fell incomplete.
Pead ran 43 yards on the next play that put Cincinnati in position to take control. Jake Rogers' 38-yard field goal made it 24-14 with 2:08 left. Brown's touchdown pass cut it to 24-21 with 39 seconds left.
JONES HAS MUSTANGS ON VERGE OF A BOWL
June Jones does not bring up SMU's dreadful history to his players. He figures they're fully aware of everything that has gone wrong the past two decades.
Instead, the laid-back coach known for reviving Hawai'i's football program laid out a plan this season for the Mustangs to play in their first bowl game since 1984.
The Mustangs (5-4) are making strides toward respectability again. With three games left, they need one more victory to become bowl eligible.
"They've been to this place twice in 25 years where they had to win a game to get to a bowl and they failed," Jones said. "So we have a challenge here these next three games."