TAMPA, Fla. -- Zach Collaros threw for three touchdowns and ran for two fourth-quarter scores, helping Cincinnati come from behind in the closing minutes Saturday to stay atop the Big East standings with a 37-34 victory over South Florida.
The senior quarterback finished a seven-play, 70-yard game-winning drive with a 2-yard TD run with 12 seconds remaining. Collaros also scored on a 3-yard run and threw a 30-yard TD pass to Alex Chisum to help Cincinnati (6-1, 2-0) wipe out a 10-point deficit early in the final quarter and finished 26 of 41 passing for 389 yards.
However, that was more than enough time for Collaros to pull out Cincinnati's fifth straight win.
With West Virginia losing 49-23 at Syracuse and Rutgers falling 16-14 at Louisville on Friday night, Cincinnati is left as the only team that's unbeaten in Big East play. South Florida began the season with four straight wins that propelled the Bulls to a No. 16 national ranking, but they've now dropped three straight to begin a conference schedule that won't get any easier with trips to Rutgers and Syracuse for their next two games.
Collaros completed 26 of 41 passes and was intercepted twice. He threw TD passes of 6 yards to Isaiah Pead and 21 yards to Adrien Robinson in addition to his fourth quarter throw to Chisum, who made a leaping catch before tumbling in the end zone. Kenbrell Thompkins had six receptions for 114 yards, including a 33-yarder that helped the Bearcats get into position for the winning score.
Poor clock management cost South Florida a shot at taking the lead in the closing seconds of the second quarter. Daniels was stopped for no gain on second-and-goal from the Cincinnati 2 with about 20 seconds remaining, but the Bulls let time run down to 3 seconds before calling timeout to allow Maikon Bonani to kick a 20-yard field goal that made it 10-10 at the half.
The miscue capped a sloppy half in which both teams squandering scoring opportunities -- Cincinnati with Tony Miliano hooking a 33-yard field goal attempt wide left and Collaros throwing an end zone interception after the Bearcats recovered a fumble at the Bulls 13; and South Florida botching what would have been a 21-yard field goal try with a poor snap.
Daniels' scoring throw to Griffin finished a 10-play, 80-yard drive and was the first offensive touchdown allowed by Cincinnati's defense in 10 quarters. Murray's TD on the opening drive of the second half gave the Bulls a short-lived 17-10 lead that Collaros erased with a six-play, 80-yard march that Thompkins kept alive with a 39-yard reception on third-and-2 from the Bearcats 40.
South Florida regained the lead on Bonani's second field goal of the game. Daniels, who completed 31 of 47 passes, put the Bulls up 27-17 with his TD pass to Shields late in the third quarter.
Collaros was 4 of 6 for 69 yards on the winning drive. Thompkins' 33-yard reception gave the Bearcats a first down at the South Florida 22. Collaros also threw 21 yards to Anthony McClung on the march.
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