CINCINNATI — Camerron Cheatham saw quarterback Zac Dysert look his way. He knew the ball was coming next.
The senior cornerback broke on the ball and went 68 yards for a touchdown Saturday night, getting the first of three interceptions that helped Cincinnati pull away to a 52-14 victory over Miami (Ohio).
Cincinnati (4-0) has won the last seven in the oldest nonconference series in the nation. The Bearcats' defense starred last year in a 27-0 win, Cincinnati's first shutout in Oxford since 1898, and got them going again on Saturday.
Cheatham's interception put the Bearcats ahead to stay. The RedHawks (3-3) had four turnovers, including a season-high three interceptions thrown by Dysert.
"I don't know if it turned the game around, but we needed a spark," said Cheatham, who has six career interceptions. "That's what needed to happen there."
Munchie Legaux played three quarters and went 12 of 23 for 157 yards for Cincinnati. He had touchdown passes of 11 and 19 yards, and ran 1 yard for a score. George Winn also ran for a pair of touchdowns against one of the nation's lowest-ranked defenses.
Miami has given up 56, 52, 49, 39 and points this season. Cincinnati's 52 points matched the most by either team in the series history — the Bearcats won 52-42 in 1999.
"We had a lot of turnovers," said Dysert, who became the 78th player in FBS history to top 10,000 yards passing for his career. "They got that early lead. We stuck to the game plan, but they did a great job after half."
Miami got shut out in the second half by a defense that chased Dysert around and rattled his receivers into dropping passes.
"In the second half, I thought we were a completely different football team," Cincinnati coach Butch Jones said.
Both quarterbacks were coming off their best games.
Legaux led the first game-winning drive of his career for a 27-24 win over Virginia Tech last Saturday, throwing for a career-high 376 yards. Dysert set school records with six touchdown passes and 624 yards of offense in a 56-49 win at Akron.
The biggest difference on Saturday, though, was that Legaux had a defense to back him up. Miami came into the game ranked 117th nationally, allowing 517 yards per game, including 237 on the ground. The Bearcats piled up 343 yards — 186 on the ground — while pulling away to a 45-14 lead after three quarters, then rested their starters.
Legaux missed an open receiver in the end zone and overthrew an open receiver down the sideline on the final possession of the first half. The offense steadied itself in the second half of a game filled with personal fouls — Miami had eight penalties overall for 57 yards, Cincinnati nine penalties for 84 yards.
"It's a rivalry game, and we wanted to come out and play with poise," Legaux said. "In the second half, we came out and played our game. We got caught up in the rivalry in the first half."
Dysert got the RedHawks off to an encouraging start, throwing a 19-yard touchdown pass to Dawan Scott on the opening drive. A bad snap foiled the extra-point attempt.
Things then unraveled quickly for the RedHawks.Comment on this story
Cheatham anticipated a sideline throw, picked it off and outran Dysert to the end zone for a 68-yard touchdown — the second of his career. Deven Drane picked off Dysert's deflected pass on the next possession, returning it 31 yards. Legaux threw an 11-yard touchdown pass to an uncovered Danny Milligan for a 14-6 lead.
Winn took advantage of Miami's weak run defense. He went 6 yards for a touchdown early in the second quarter, and saved the Bearcats after a punt pinned them at their 2-yard line. Winn broke a 57-yard run, hurdling a defender to get into the clear. After Legaux missed an open receiver in the end zone, the Bearcats settled for a field goal and a 24-6 lead.
Dysert led a 75-yard touchdown drive that culminated in his 10-yard pass to Nick Harwell, then ran for the 2-point conversion that left it 24-14 at the half. He finished 25 of 49 for 303 yards.
Cincinnati dominated the second half. Ralph David Abernathy IV returned the kickoff 58 yards, and Legaux's 19-yard touchdown pass to Travis Kelce made it 31-14. Cincinnati kept it on the ground for a 62-yard touchdown drive culminating in Winn's 3-yard run that put it away.