Cincinnati quarterback Zach Collaros (12) passes against Louisville during the first half Saturday in Cincinnati. Collaros completed 15 of 17 passes for 253 yards and three touchdowns before being taken out of the game in the fourth quarter. He is expected to make his second start this Saturday against Syracuse.

CINCINNATI — Fifth-ranked Cincinnati let quarterback Zach Collaros run the offense in practice Tuesday, getting him ready to start at Syracuse while Tony Pike recovers from surgery on his non-throwing arm.

Pike had the cast on his left arm shortened so he could do more on the field this week, but only participated in the early part of practice. Coach Brian Kelly said he’s getting his sophomore backup ready to play Saturday at Syracuse (3-4).

Collaros is expected to make his second straight start for the Bearcats (7-0), who are adept at winning while switching quarterbacks. In his first collegiate start last Saturday, Collaros threw three touchdowns and only two incompletions in a 41-10 win over Louisville.

“Certainly I think your team is settled in a lot more,” Kelly said. “Our guys — it’s not an issue for them who the quarterback is this week. I don’t think it changes the way we go about the business. It’s business as usual.”

Pike broke his left forearm and dislocated the wrist last season, had a plate and six screws inserted, and returned after missing two games. The injury gave him problems during his first few games back, causing numbness and pain in the left hand.

Pike’s arm got better as the season went along, and he led the Bearcats to their first Big East title and Orange Bowl appearance. The arm was fine until Oct. 15, when a helmet hit bent the plate and forced him from the game. Collaros ran for a pair of touchdowns as Cincinnati pulled away to a 34-17 win.

Kelly said on Tuesday that Pike had a 12-inch incision — much longer than the one last year — so doctors could replace the plate. He had to wear a bulky cast last week, preventing him from playing. He didn’t even suit up for the Louisville game.

The cast was modified on Monday, and Pike expects to see what he can do in practices this week. Kelly hasn’t ruled him out against Syracuse, but the Bearcats are preparing to go with Collaros.

It’s more likely that Pike could be ready for a home game against Connecticut on Nov. 7.

“It’s pretty clear what it is right now,” Kelly said. “We’ve got to get him manageable with a cast. It took three weeks last year. We’re heading into the second week. We’re closer. I think we’re pretty much going to take this right up to game time.”

After Pike returned last season, he played the last eight games with a removable cast on the forearm. The goal is to get him ready to play that way again.

“He’s got to be the guy who ultimately signs off on this,” Kelly said. “He’s got to feel confident in his ability to go out there and do what he needs to do.

“The individual plays a huge role in this. This is not an issue where he has a concussion and has to pass a battery of tests. This is: ’You’ve got a steel plate in there, you’ve got a cast on it, what can and can’t you do?”’

After Pike left practice on Tuesday, Collaros ran the show.

“Last week, basically we ran everything we ran with Tony,” Collaros said. “I am preparing like I’m the (starter), so I’ll be ready.”

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