CINCINNATI (AP) -- Dustin Grutza's 37-yard touchdown pass through a tricky, swirling wind helped Cincinnati pull away in the second half Saturday for a 17-3 victory over Syracuse.
Greg Moore also scored in the second half on a 2-yard run, putting Cincinnati (5-4, 2-2 Big East) in control against a struggling team. Syracuse (3-6, 0-4) has lost four in a row, and is 0-11 in the conference during coach Greg Robinson's two seasons.
The quarterbacks had to contend with gusting winds that made food wrappers dance along the field before depositing them into the upper deck. Side-by-side pennants above the stadium pointed in opposite directions, and the game had to be held up when a cheerleader's black "Make Noise" got blown onto the field.
One bold throw into the wind made the difference.
Leading 10-3 early in the fourth quarter, Grutza faked a handoff, hid the ball on his hip and then reared back and let it fly for the end zone. Derrick Stewart got behind the coverage and made a diving catch of the wobbly pass, part of his career-high 91-yard game.
Grutza was 13-of-18 for 205 yards with two interceptions. It was only his third 200-yard game of the season.
The Orange couldn't move the ball with any consistency against a defense coming off its most impressive showing. Cincinnati had a safety and returned a fumble for a touchdown, outscoring South Florida's offense in a 23-6 win on Sunday night.
A week after he threw for a career-high 303 yards in a loss to Louisville, senior Perry Patterson was 13-of-29 for 119 yards. Patterson was under constant pressure and had numerous throws dropped.
All Syracuse managed was Patrick Shadle's 23-yard field goal in the second quarter. The Orange had only 79 total yards heading into the decisive fourth quarter.
A mistake by a senior punter put Cincinnati in position to pull away. Brendan Carney juggled a good snap and shanked a 16-yard punt to the Syracuse 42. Moore covered the distance in six carries, bursting through a hole from the 2 for his third-quarter score.
The Bearcats wasted a chance to take control late in the first half, when they went for it on fourth-and-goal from the 1. Running back Butler Benton was dropped for a loss, leaving it tied at 3.