UC vs. Pitt Key Matchups

One of the things I love about the game of football is looking at the individual matchups and position battles. This week, as the University of Cincinnati football team prepares for the Red River Rivalry against the Pitt Panthers, we take a look at three key matchups that should prove influential in the game's final score.

Matchup Number One- LeSean McCoy vs. Cincinnati Linebackers

LeSean McCoy

Through just nine games, Pittsburgh running back LeSean McCoy has already eclipsed the 1,000-yard rushing mark this season, his second straight year hitting the mark. Five games running for 100 yards or more has placed McCoy as the 12th leading rusher in the nation this season with 115.89 yards per game. "You have to minimize the big plays that he makes," said Cincinnati head coach Brian Kelly Tuesday of McCoy. "McCoy has similar skills as (West Virginia's) Noel Devine. He is going to get his rushing yards if they let him." A Semifinalist for the Doak Walker Award, given annually to the nation's top running back, McCoy has averaged five yards per carry, reached the end zone 16 times, and caught 20 passes for an additional 234 yards.

Cincinnati Linebackers

The UC linebacking trio of Corey Smith, Ryan Manalac, and Torry Cornett has started each of the Bearcat's ten games this season, and there's no end in sight this week. "(Corey Smith) will be fine. We thought he had an injury that would be a questionable game time decision," said Kelly. "But he is looking better and he will be better for Saturday." Cincinnati ranks 25th in the country at stopping the run this year, and UC is the only team this season to hold WVU's Pat White and Noel Devine to less than 100 yards. The trio has combined for 164 total tackles and 11.5 tackles for loss.

Matchup Number Two- Scott McKillop vs. John Goebel and Jacob Ramsey

Scott McKillop

A three-time Big East Defensive Player of the Week, middle linebacker Scott McKillop leads the nation in solo stops with 6.78 solo tackles per game. McKillop also ranks first in the conference in total tackles (9.89 per game) and tackles for loss (1.39 per game). "(McKillop) is all over the place," said Kelly of the Lott Trophy semifinalist. "When you think of a middle linebacker, he is a physical strong kid. He is all over the field, and he is athletic. He can run side to side. He's a good football player."

John Goebel and Jacob Ramsey

The Cincinnati running game is headlined by running backs John Goebel and Jacob Ramsey. The duo has totaled 1,004 yards on 213 attempts on the ground, averaging 4.71 yards per carry and scoring seven touchdowns, while also combining for 28 receptions out of the backfield for 287 yards. "Goebel is involved in the passing game a little bit more although he had two big runs last week. Ramsey is more of the power back, a between-the-tackles runner," said Pitt head coach Dave Wannstedt of the backs.

Matchup Number Three- Pitt Special Teams vs. UC Special Teams

Pitt Special Teams

The Panther's field goal kicker, senior Conor Lee, has been automatic this season. Second among Big East kickers, Lee has connected on 18 of his 20 field goal attempts this year. His two FG's per game rank first in the conference and second in the nation. Lee has proven to remain cool under pressure, hitting all five of his field goal attempts, including the game-winner, in a four overtime win over Notre Dame on November 1.

UC Special Teams

Cincinnati place kicker Jake Rogers had connected on all 13 of his field goal attempts going into last week's game at Louisville. But with rain falling in Papa John's Cardinal Stadium, Rogers missed all three of his field goal tries in the Bearcat's victory. All-American punter Kevin Huber again has UC ranked number one in the nation in net punting, and behind Mardy Gilyard Cincinnati ranks 9th in the county in kick returns. Gilyard has tied for the UC career lead with two kickoff returns for a touchdown, and needs just four additional kickoff return yards to set the Cincinnati single-season record.

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