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No. 7 Bearcats focus on Murray State with bigger tests ahead

Murray State (1-0) at No. 7 Cincinnati (1-0), Saturday at 3:30 EDT (ESPN).

Line: No line, according to FanDuel Sportsbook.

Series record: First meeting.

WHAT’S AT STAKE?

No. 7 Cincinnati is reportedly getting an invitation to join the Big 12 soon, and has big games at Indiana and No. 8 Notre Dame this month. But the Bearcats can’t overlook FCS opponent Murray State who’ll be looking to end their 21-game winning streak at Nippert Stadium. Murray State, which plays in the Ohio Valley Conference, can gain some respectability just by making it a game with the talent-rich Bearcats.

KEY MATCHUP

Murray State’s rushing attack vs. Cincinnati’s defense. The Racers’ only chance in Saturday’s game is to establish the run and keep the Bearcats’ high-powered offense on the sidelines. The Racers rushed for 307 yards in Thursday’s 35-0 win over Mississippi Valley State. The Bearcats amassed 542 total yards in their 49-14 win over rival Miami (Ohio).

PLAYERS TO WATCH

Murray State: Racers junior QB Preston Rice tied a school record with four rushing touchdowns last week. He passed for 148 yards and rushed for 81.

Cincinnati: Junior running back Jerome Ford is looking to establish himself as the Bearcats’ feature back. He rushed for 125 yards on 12 carries and had a 21-yard TD run last week. Head coach Luke Fickell wants Ford to increase his carries.

FACTS & FIGURES

Cincinnati has won 21 straight at Nippert Stadium, going undefeated at home in three-straight seasons for the first time. The Bearcats’ last loss at home was on Nov. 10, 2017 when they lost 35-24 to Temple. … The Bearcats are 11-0 under Fickell when they have 500 or more total yards. … Dean Hood is in his second season as head coach at Murray State. The Racers started 5-0 last spring, matching their best start in school history. Hood was previously an assistant at Kentucky after eight seasons as head coach at Eastern Kentucky. … Cincinnati had forced a turnover in 20 straight games, the longest active streak in the FBS, before the streak was broken last week.

___

More AP college football: https://apnews.com/hub/college-football and https://twitter.com/AP_Top25. Sign up for the AP’s college football newsletter: https://apnews.com/cfbtop25

By The Associated Press

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