The game will be televised by ESPN2 and have a Fresno State slant as analyst Trent Dilfer is one of the programs greatest players.
Fresno State returns eight starters on offense with quarterback Ryan Colburn leading the way. They also return all five starting offensive linemen from a year ago.
Here is our Battle Ground look at Fresno State and Cincinnati for this Saturday's game.
Fresno State: 2009 / 8-5, 6-2 WAC
Kickoff: 7:00 p.m. PT / 10 p.m. ET
Site: Bulldog Stadium (41,031) Advantage Fresno State
Fresno State a lot like Cincinnati
Bulldogs head coach Pat Hill has seen 32 former assistant coaches go on to jobs in the NFL and College level. Included in that list are Lane Kiffin and Jeff Tedford. Much like the Bearcats under Rick Minter, Fresno State has been used by many as a place to better their craft before finding their way to bigger jobs.
The Bulldogs return quarterback Ryan Colburn from last year's team but must find a replacement at the running back position for the departed Ryan Mathews. Look for the work to be done by a committee of backs with Robbie Rouse, A.J. Ellis, Michael Harris, and Tracy Slocum all getting their chances. The strength of the team is the offensive line where all five starters return from last year's squad.
The Bearcats move from the 3-4 scheme back to the 4-3 in 2010 and while it another season of change, it might serve the teams personnel better. The front four of Derek Wolfe, John Hughes, Dan Giordano, and Brandon Mills, along with Jordan Stepp, Rob Trigg, and junior college transfer Monte Taylor will all get action as the need to rotate against the Bulldogs offensive line will be a major test.
Linebacker takes on a different look but should have more speed than a year ago. JK Schaffer is a proven veteran and should be the defensive leader. In a perfect world, Schaffer would be on the outside, but because of need, he's moved back to the middle. Maalik Bomar is a star in the making with great speed and a hitter's mentality, but he is also a redshirt freshman getting his first chance to take the field. Walter Stewart looks to be the other outside backer going into this game..
The Bearcats defensive backs will be tested in this game and while the depth chart gives us some names to look at, moves could happen fast during the game. Drew Frey will need to lead the back four and Wesley Richardson will have to show the ability to take his game to another level. There is still a battle brewing at both corner spots and don't be surprised if the Bearcats make several moves during the game here.
Because it is a road game and the experience of the Bulldogs offensive line you have to give a slight edge to Fresno State. The Bearcats have talent on the defensive side of the ball and will need to show early maturity if they want to leave the west coast with a victory. This will be a huge test for the front four and should give Bearcat fans a taste of how well the defense should perform overall this season.
BULLDOG DEFENSE Fresno State shows on their depth chart eleven players listed as starters with each having earned at least one letter. Look for defensive end Chris Carter, safety Lorne Bell, and corner Desia Dunn to lead the way for the Bulldogs on Saturday. All three players are experienced having each earned three letters during their careers.
This is what Bearcat fans and college football fans across the nation have been talking about since the departure of Brian Kelly. Where does the offense go under Butch Jones? The answer looks to be simple; Jones will field a veteran offensive unit with one of the best collection of skill players in the country.
Isaiah Pead is expected to take the next steps in his development and provide the Bearcats with a strong rushing attack to go with all the air power that will line up.
The biggest question for the Bearcats is the play of the offensive line. Sam Griffin has been fighting a slight injury and if he cannot go, Sean Hooey will earn his first college start. The move of Jason Kelce to center is one that will have no effects on the line play. Kelce has played the position before and is battle tested. The biggest questions will be at the tackle spots with Griffin and C.J. Cobb. The senior returns after missing last season and part of the spring with an injury, depending upon where he is with his health the Bearcats could be looking at making a few shifts during the game.
When it comes to offensive firepower you cannot go against the Bearcats. They are loaded with weapons from quarterback Zach Collaros to the wide receiver spots with Armon Binns, Vidal Hazelton, D.J. Woods and Marcus Barnett. Throw in Ben Guidugli and you see why opposing defensive coordinators do not sleep well when they prepare for the Bearcats.
In The End
The Bearcats have enough offensive firepower to hang with almost anyone in the country. However, the test of making a west coast trip in his first college game is something Butch Jones and crew will have to weather. The plan for such a trip has been done before and off the field members of the Bearcats football program can help Jones make the proper travel plans.
This is a huge game for the Bearcats and several areas will be tested from the time they step on the plane. The offense should be ready to go and provide ample scoring against a solid but not great Bulldogs defense. The question will be on defense where all who take the field will have to answer the bell and provide their talents to hold down the Bulldogs offensive attack that beat the Bearcats last season on the stat sheet.
The Bearcats must secure the football and run down the clock while still putting points on the board. If they can do that and the defense can come up with a big play or two, the Bearcats will return home with a solid victory under their belts.