Fresno State 20

(1-3, 0-2 away)

(14) Cincinnati 28

(4-0, 2-0 home)

Coverage: GamePlan

12:00 PM ET, September 26, 2009

Nippert Stadium, Cincinnati, OH

1 2 3 4 T
FRES 3 14 0 320
#14CIN 14 7 0 728

Top Performers

Passing: T. Pike (CIN) - 300 YDS, 3 TD

Rushing: R. Mathews (FRES) - 38 CAR, 145 YDS, 1 TD

Receiving: M. Gilyard (CIN) - 9 REC, 177 YDS, 2 TD

Cincy survives Fresno State's upset bid with late pick

Associated Press

CINCINNATI -- Receiver Mardy Gilyard was asked what he thought about those astounding time-of-possession numbers on the stats sheet. It took him a few seconds to find the right line.

When he did, his eyes widened.

"Forty-three to 16?" he said. "We had it 16 minutes? Oh, my goodness!"

Fast Facts

• Cincinnati improved to 4-0 for the second time in the last 55 seasons (first time since 2007) as it jumped out to a 14-3 lead and hung on.

• Tony Pike recorded his third 300-yard passing game this season, connecting with Marshwan Gilyard nine times for a career-high 177 yards and two TDs. It was Gilyard's sixth 100-yard receiving game in his last eight games dating back to last season and his sixth straight with a receiving TD.

• The win evened the Bearcats' all-time mark vs. current WAC schools at 18-18-2.

• Fresno State fell to 1-3 for the first time since 2006.

-- ESPN Stats & Information

Those 16 minutes were just enough for Gilyard and Tony Pike to save Cincinnati.

Pike threw three touchdown passes in a quick-strike offense that was hardly on the field, and the 14th-ranked Bearcats held on for a 28-20 victory over a Fresno State team that ran all over them on Saturday. One gamble made the Bulldogs (1-3) come up empty.

Facing fourth-and-2 at the Cincinnati 6 to open the fourth quarter, Fresno State chose to throw rather than run it again. Ryan Colburn's pass was picked off, and Pike put the Bearcats (4-0) in control with a 23-yard touchdown pass to Gilyard.

"I thought we had a real good call," Fresno State coach Pat Hill said. "I think if you ask Ryan, he would tell you he would have thrown it deeper, but there were a lot of bodies in the way. We considered a field goal, but we thought we could score."

Gilyard also caught an 11-yard touchdown pass in another career day. The senior receiver and returner had nine catches for a career-best 177 yards, giving him eight touchdowns in four games.

The Bulldogs' strategy was to keep one of the nation's top offenses off the field. It nearly succeeded. Cincinnati came in averaging 48 points per game, fourth-best nationally, but was on the field for only 16:18. With Ryan Mathews grinding out the yards, the Bulldogs held the ball for 43:42.

The Bearcats' defensive secondary was depleted by injuries and the Bulldogs hit a lot of big plays in their first three games, so coach Brian Kelly decided on a conservative philosophy: Drop the safeties deep in zone coverage and let Fresno State grind away.

"They conducted the game exactly the way they needed to," said Kelly, who considered changing his strategy before Pike's last touchdown put Cincinnati in charge. "I'm glad they're not in the Big East, let me tell you that."

Mathews carried a career-high 38 times for 145 yards, topping the 100-yard mark for the fourth straight game. He was the Bowl Subdivision's leading rusher coming in, averaging 149 yards per game. His ability to find holes behind 270-pound fullback Reynard Camp kept Cincinnati on the defensive all game and persuaded his own coaches to keep giving him the ball.

"I'm tired," Mathews said. "Thirty-eight carries is a lot. The coaches told me to expect the ball every play. It's part of being a running back. Sometimes you may only get it five times, sometimes you get a lot of carries. It depends on the day."

Fresno State had the fourth-best running game in the nation, and showed it wouldn't be pushed around by churning out a 17-play drive that took more than eight minutes in the second quarter. Colburn's 21-yard touchdown pass to Jamel Hamler -- uncovered in the middle of the field -- cut it to 21-17 with 7 seconds left before halftime.

The Bearcats thought: Uh-oh.

Cincinnati's offense had the ball for only one minute in the third quarter -- a three-and-out drive that put the whole burden on the defense. Linebacker Craig Carey's first career interception on Fresno State's pivotal fourth-down pass helped the Bearcats improve to 25-0 under Kelly when they open the fourth quarter with a lead.

Carey had a suspicion the Bulldogs were going to throw to his area.

"Before the play, I noticed the running back staring at me for some reason," Carey said. "I got a weird feeling the play was going to come my way. I feel like he looked me right in the eyes and just threw it to me."

The Bearcats' no-huddle offense needed only 2:12, 1:43, 2:53 and 1:45 to zip down the field for its touchdowns, giving the defense little rest. The game was in the hands of that tired crew after Fresno State got the ball back at its 7-yard line following a punt with 3:55 to go.

Colburn's fourth-down pass from the Cincinnati 37 was broken up by safety Aaron Webster with 39 seconds left, ending it.


Team Stat Comparison

1st Downs2515
Total Yards443357
3rd Down Conversions12-204-7
4th Down Conversions2-40-0

Passing Leaders


Rushing Leaders


Receiving Leaders


Scoring Summary

TD12:48Ben Guidugli 33 Yd Pass From Tony Pike (Jake Rogers Kick) 07
FG07:47Kevin Goessling 36 Yd 37
TD05:58Marshwan Gilyard 11 Yd Pass From Tony Pike (Jake Rogers Kick) 314
TD11:48Ryan Mathews 1 Yd Run (Kevin Goessling Kick) 1014
TD08:55Isaiah Pead 1 Yd Run (Jake Rogers Kick) 1021
TD00:07Jamel Hamler 21 Yd Pass From Ryan Colburn (Kevin Goessling Kick) 1721
TD13:09Marshwan Gilyard 23 Yd Pass From Tony Pike (Jake Rogers Kick) 1728
FG08:09Kevin Goessling 49 Yd 2028