Bearcats boast best ball-security

Posted by ESPN.com's Brian Bennett

There are myriad reasons for Cincinnati's success this season, but one factor may not be getting enough credit: the Bearcats simply don't give the ball away.

Cincinnati has committed four turnovers in eight games, the lowest total out of the 120 FBS teams. All four miscues were interceptions. The Bearcats are the only team in the country that hasn't lost a fumble this season.

Think about that for a minute. They've run 511 offensive plays and given the ball away four times. They've run the ball 239 times without losing a fumble. That doesn't even count kick returns. They have not had a game this season where they've thrown more than one interception, either.

"That's one of the reasons we're 8-0," coach Brian Kelly said. "We haven't given offenses an extra chance, an extra opportunity to put points on the board."

Kelly doesn't take any great credit for this accomplishment. He preaches taking care of the ball in practice, but what coach doesn't it? He acknowledges it's one of the team's goals but then says "we don't overcoach it, and we don't undercoach it." Some of it is luck; Cincinnati has fumbled five times this season but has managed to recover each one.

"We have great competition," Kelly said. "Guys know that if they put the ball on the ground, we'll put the next guy in. There's a definite purpose in practice of taking care of the football. We've just been fortunate, too."

Kelly was almost loathe to discuss the statistic this week out of fear of jinxing it. And this is a perfect time to highlight it, because Saturday's opponent is the last team to beat Cincinnati in conference play, in large part due to turnovers.

Connecticut caused six takeaways -- three fumbles and three interceptions -- in last year's 40-16 win. The Huskies know they'll have a hard time matching offensive firepower with the Bearcats without forcing some miscues.

"They have so many weapons," UConn linebacker Scott Lutrus said. "We have to play perfect and sound on defense and maybe cause some turnovers in order to win."

Good luck with that. No one else has been able to pry the ball away from the Bearcats this season.