No. 3 Cincinnati faces dual challenge of big heads, UCF

The national recognition for Cincinnati’s football program is at an all-time high.Coach Luke Fickell just hopes his Bearcats don’t get too big-headed.Cincinnati holds its highest ranking in program history at No. 3 heading into its Saturday afternoon home game against American Athletic Conference opponent UCF.”For us as a team and as a program, it’s really about how are we going to handle this attention and things that are going on,” Fickell said. “We can’t bury our head in the sand.”They can’t be like me because they’re not. Meaning, they still have to go to class and be in the community and live on their phones at times. … It will be a big deal for us to continue to handle some of the attention, some of the buzz.”Following impressive road triumphs over Indiana and Notre Dame, the Bearcats (5-0, 1-0 AAC) opened conference play last week by crushing Temple 52-3.Quarterback Desmond Ridder threw for 259 yards and three touchdowns, while top back Jerome Ford rushed for 149 yards on just 15 carries with two for scores.Cincinnati’s defense held the opposition to 14 or fewer points for the fourth time this season.Ridder has completed 65.5 percent of his passes, including 12 touchdowns, with just two interceptions. Ford is averaging 6.3 yards and has reached the end zone eight times.Cincinnati will be shooting for its 24th consecutive home victory, the second longest streak in the country, behind only Clemson’s 31-game streak.”The recognition they deserve and that they’re getting is awesome,” Fickell said of his players. “It’s something we’ve had in the past couple of years but nothing quite like this. So it’s a time for us to continue to grow maturity-wise and be able to handle it.”UCF (3-2, 1-1) will try to pull the upset with a true freshman at quarterback. Mikey Keene recorded his first win in the Knights’ 20-16 victory over East Carolina on Saturday. Keene completed 23-of-35 passes for 194 yards.