Brendan Kay threw for a career-best 408 yards and four touchdowns, Mekale McKay caught three TDs and Cincinnati rolled to its fifth straight win with a 52-17 thrashing of Rutgers on Saturday.
The Bearcats (8-2, 5-1 American Athletic Conference) gained 619 yards in total offense, including 422 in the first half when they jumped to a 38-7 lead behind Kay and couple of trick plays.
Kay hit McKay on touchdowns plays of 24 and 66 yards in the first quarter. He added a 41-yarder to Shaq Washington in the second and a 15-yarder to Chris Moore in the third quarter. McKay got his career-best final touchdown in the fourth quarter on a 34-yard pass from Jordan Luallen, who also had a 9-yard TD run.
Washington also threw a 28-yarder to Moore on an end around. It capped a two-play drive that started with the recovery of an onside kick with Cincinnati ahead 17-7.
Despite its winning streak, there were a lot of questions about Cincinnati coming into the game. The nine previous Bearcats' opponents had combined for 17 wins and the best mark among them was a 5-5 record by Northwestern State, a non BCS team.
With Rutgers, Houston and Louisville on tap in the final three games, Cincinnati was going to find out how good it was.
Against the Scarlet Knights, they were dominant.
Kay, the nation's leader in completion percentage (74.1), hit 24 of 38 passes in surpassing his previous yardage best of 332 set against Duke in the Belk Bowl in December. His four TD passes tied his career best.
This game was decided early.
Tony Miliano kicked a 30-yard field goal after the Bearcats went 69 yards with the opening kickoff.
Rutgers gave the ball right back on their first play when Leviticus Payne intercepted Nova (18 of 38 for 170 and two interceptions) at the Scarlet Knights 36. Washington took a handoff from Kay and then threw the ball back to him for a 12-yard gain. The 24-yard TD pass to a wide-open McKay pushed the lead to 10-0 on the next play.
A fumble at midfield later in the quarter, set up Rutgers touchdown, a 16-yard pass to Coleman for his 19th career TD catch, one shy of the school record.
The Bears quickly pushed the lead back to 10 on the 66-yard catch and run by McKay. The onside kick followed and Washington stretched the lead to 24-7 with his pass to Moore 87 seconds later.
Even when things didn't go Cincinnati's way, they did.
Faced with a fourth-and-8 at its own 33 early in the second quarter, Rutgers was going to block a punt by John Lloyd. Instead, he pulled the ball down and ran 14 yards for a first down. It set up Luallen's TD run for a 31-7 lead. Kay added the TD pass to Washington before the half.
Rutgers got its final TD on a 1-yard run by Savon Huggins late in the fourth quarter.