-I would love to be unique here and pick someone surprising like a Greg Blair or George Winn, but you can't talk about this game without mentioning Munchie Legaux. 322 yards of total offense and two touchdowns is enough to garner player of the game honors by itself, add in the fact that he was a constant threat all game, and it seals the deal. Quarterbacking is much more than making accurate passes and proper reads, you need to OWN the offense. You are the leader of that unit, and Munchie was that leader last night. Besides a few questionable decisions on read option plays in the first half, Legaux ran Cincinnati's offense like a seasoned veteran. 50% completion percentage is a bit low, but there were a few dropped passes that skewed the stats. If Munchie plays like this for the rest of the season, expect a few more of these "Top Bearcat" honors to come his way.
Top Offensive Player
-This was the toughest choice of the night for me. Both running backs were exceptional last night. First you have George Winn, who broke open the game with a 58-yard touchdown run, followed by a tough, hard-earned nine-yard touchdown run where he broke multiple tackles in the 3rd quarter. Then you have Mr. versatility, Ralph Abernathy IV. Throughout the game, Abernathy showed why coaches and teammates on so high on his talent. He brings a Chris Johnson type skill set to UC's offense. With that being said, I gave the edge to Abernathy. 71 receiving yards with two touchdowns, and 20 yards rushing on five carries, including one where he was caught in the back field, spun out of the tackle and gained 13 yards. Much like Legaux, every time Ralph had the ball in his hands, you held your breath, knowing with one missed tackle he can bust out a long run. Expect to see a lot of George Winn thunder to Ralph Abernathy lightning in this Cincinnati offense.
Top Defensive Player
-I would like to give this award to the entire Cincinnati defensive line, but that would be cheating, and NOBODY likes a cheater. With that being said, senior defensive end Walter Stewart was a disruptive force all game long, thus earning "Top Bearcat" on the defensive side of the ball. One of the biggest question marks coming into this game was UC's ability to stop the run. Pittsburgh halfback Ray Graham is one of the better backs in the country, and it was imperative to Cincinnati's defensive strategy to shut him down. You didn't have to tell Walter Stewart twice. Among his nine total tackles, Stewart had 3.5 tackles for loss and two sacks. However, his contribution to the game goes beyond statistics. Stewart never let Pitt quarterback Tino Sunseri get comfortable in the pocket. Sunseri constantly had to either step up in the pocket or roll out to evade pressure from UC's defensive line. In all of those big plays, there was one constant, and that constant was big number 54 emerging from the pile, pumping up the jam-packed crowd in Nippert Stadium.