Cincinnati Bearcats fall one spot to No. 8 in latest AP poll

Keith Jenkins
Cincinnati Enquirer

The University of Cincinnati football team is No. 8 in both the latest Associated Press Top 25 poll and the latest USA TODAY Sports AFCA coaches poll released Sunday.

The Bearcats (2-0) fell one spot in the AP poll and didn't budge in the coaches poll following their 42-7 win against FCS opponent Murray State on Saturday at Nippert Stadium.

Senior quarterback Desmond Ridder completed 14 of 22 passes for 243 yards and two touchdowns, and junior running back Jerome Ford had 113 yards on three touchdowns on 18 carries to lead the Cincinnati offense.

Defensively, graduate linebacker Joel Dublanko had a game-high eight tackles for the Bearcats, who forced four turnovers.

Senior safety Ja'von Hicks, junior cornerback Ahmad "Sauce" Gardner and junior nickelback Arquon Bush each had an interception.

More:No. 7/8 Cincinnati Bearcats survive sluggish start to defeat Murray State, 42-7

More:Analysis: Cincinnati Bearcats' secondary finds 'swag' in 42-7 win over Murray State

The victory, which saw Cincinnati fall behind 7-0 in the second quarter, came a day after UC accepted an invitation to join the Big 12 Conference. UC, currently a member of the American Athletic Conference, is scheduled to join the Big 12 no later than July 1, 2024.

More:'It happened very quickly': How Cincinnati became the newest member of the Big 12

"It's such an exciting time and such a big opportunity for not just our entire university and athletic department but also our city and fan base," Cincinnati coach Luke Fickell said after Saturday's win. "But it is very hard when you're dealing with 18- to 22-year-olds and their ability to stay focused and locked in, especially now when you're believing you're going to get everyone's best shot."

Cincinnati Bearcats head coach Luke Fickell leads the Cincinnati Bearcats onto the field to warm up before the NCAA football game between Cincinnati Bearcats and Murray State Racers on Saturday, Sept. 11, 2021, at Nippert Stadium in Cincinnati.

The victory marked the Bearcats' 22nd straight home victory, the third-longest active home-winning streak in the FBS.

"It means 22 games we've done a really, really good job at home," Fickell said. "We're not home for a couple more weeks, so that will be a big deal. But I can tell you this, that home crowd, that student section last week and this week, the energy there is a really big thing for us. We'll miss it the next couple of weeks, but we know they'll be there in spirit."

Cincinnati will hit the road for the first time this Saturday to face unranked Indiana (1-1). Kickoff is set for noon on ABC/ESPN.