The Cincinnati Bearcats (6-1) cracked the Top 25 this week in the coaches poll, settling in at No. 23 after a thrilling come-from-behind triumph on the road at South Florida.
The comeback, which saw the Bearcats outscore the Bulls 20-7 in the fourth quarter, was orchestrated largely on the arm, and legs, of Steubenville's Zach Collaros.
Collaros led three scoring drives late in the game, the final a 70-yard march with less than 2 minutes to play that the veteran QB capped with a 2-yard rushing touchdown.
Many positive things have been said about Collaros throughout his playing career, both at Big Red and now at Cincinnati.
But the most telling plaudit cast his direction is that the kid knows how to win. It was true then and it still holds true today.
Collaros finished with 389 yards through the air and three touchdowns, shaking off a pair of interceptions.
He ran for only 21 yards, but two of his carries resulted in short-yardage scampers across the goal line.
His performance one-upped Bulls' quarterback B.J. Daniels, who threw for 409 yards and three scores and rushed for 54. He only threw one interception, one late in the fourth that proved costly as the Bulls were unable to maintain a lead they painstakingly built in the third quarter.
The Bearcats now own sole possesion of first place atop the Big East Conference standings.
Cincinnati will enjoy a much-deserved bye week this weekend while preparing to face Pittsburgh. The Panthers 2-1 conference record has them tied for second behind the Bearcats along with Rutgers.
The Scarlet Knights, take on a focused West Virginia team fresh off that embarassing loss to Syracuse.
A Mountaineers' victory, coupled with a Cincy triumph against Pitt the following week, will place Collaros' team in great position as the teams hit the back half of their schedules.
A trio of local product performed well in West Liberty's loss to Charleston.
Bridgeport's Nate Maleski tied for the team lead with eight tackles, while Martins Ferry's Marco Richetti was third with six stops and Buckeye Local's Isaac Omaits had five, with two tackles for a loss and another sack. Brooke's Bryan Spruill also recorded a sack for the Hilltoppers.
Offensively, Wheeling Park's Jimmy Burress kicked off the game's scoring with a 1-yard TD run.
In a 27-7 win against Capial, Mount Union's Jeremy Murray was held without a touchdown and ran for less than 100 yards for the first time all season.
Murray had only 44 yards on 19 carries in limited duty leaving with an injury.
In a defeat against Otterbein, Barnesville's Dalton Smith was limited to 185 yards passing, two picks and zero touchdowns.
Defensively, Cambridge's James Beatty had seven stops, including one behind the line.
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