No. 21 Cincinnati looks to keep momentum vs Tulsa

Tulsa (2-4, 0-2 AAC) at No. 21 Cincinnati (5-1, 2-0), Saturday at 3:30 p.m. EDT (ESPNU).

Line: Cincinnati by 17 1/2.

Series record: Tulsa leads 17-14-2.

WHAT’S AT STAKE?

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The Bearcats need a win to maintain their edge in the American Athletic East. They knocked off two-time champion UCF and then won at Houston. They’ve won four in a row since a 42-0 loss at Ohio State, climbing back into the Top 25. Tulsa is looking to regain its footing after a 45-17 loss to Navy.

KEY MATCHUP

Zach Smith vs. Cincinnati’s secondary: Smith ranks third in the league with 269.7 yards passing per game. He’s facing a secondary that has been aggressive the last two games, forcing nine turnovers — seven interceptions and two fumble recoveries. The Bearcats picked off UCF’s Dillon Gabriel three times, returning one for a touchdown.

PLAYERS TO WATCH

Tulsa: Shamari Brooks is fifth in the league with 77.3 yards rushing per game. He needs a solid showing to take the pressure off Smith.

Cincinnati: Safety Ja’Von Hicks had a pair of interceptions and a fumble recovery in the 38-23 win at Houston, earning the league’s award as defensive player of the week.

FACTS & FIGURES

Cincinnati has won four of the last five in the series. … Cincinnati’s Desmond Ridder ranks fourth in the AAC in passing efficiency. He threw for 263 yards and three touchdowns and ran for 50 yards and a touchdown against Houston. … The Bearcats will honor their 2009 team in conjunction with the game. That team went 12-0 before losing in the Sugar Bowl. … Cincinnati is the third ranked team Tulsa will play this season. The Golden Hurricane has lost to No. 18 Michigan State 28-7 and to No. 24 SMU 43-37 in three OTs.

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