Oregon State will be up to its neck in size and speed versus No. 17 Cincinnati.
UNLV may have been a good test, but looking into the numbers, the Bearcats have lit up the scoreboard in ways not many teams can, and will be looking to do the same in their biggest test of the young season against the No. 24 Beavs.
Over the first two games, Cincinnati has outscored its opponents 117-18, scary good. One of those games—on the road-- against who many believed would vie for the Big East crown, Rutgers.
While the Beavers are confident they can beat anyone at home, this game will go a long way in unveiling the true identity of this 2009 Beaver squad.
Brian Kelly is in his third year as the Bearcat Boss and has propelled his program upwards to heights Cincy fans haven't seen before.
Kelly earned Big East Coach of the Year in 2007 and 2008. In just two years and two games, he has a record of 23-6.
ON OFFENSE, QUARTERBACK Tony Pike has thrown for 591 yards and six touchdowns to only one interception this season. Pike's 77.2 completion percentage rivals that of the Beavers' Sean Canfield, the nation's leader. In total yardage, however, Pike reigns supreme with Canfield only slinging for 356 yards the first two weeks.
Pike also has electric wide out and high projected NFL draft-pick Marty Gilyard, and a veteran offensive line, surrounding him.
Gilyard, a 6-1 180 pound senior leads the way with 200 yards and three scores on just 14 receptions.
THE BEARCATS HAVE 11 receivers who average double digit yards per catch and the passing game has produced 747 yards and eight scores in two games. Slightly overlooked is the extremely effective running of sophomore Isaiah Peed (5-11 185) and senior Jacob Ramsey (6-1 230).
With defenders focused on the underneath and over the top threats of Gilyard and company, Ramsey and Peed have had great success, combining for 234 yards and a score. Peed averages 4.8 yards per carry, Ramsey at an eye opening 9.5 per.
What is also aiding the astronomical numbers is the 7-1 turnover ratio. Cincinnati has already recorded six interceptions and recovered a fumble, while Pike has only tossed one ball to defenders.
Oregon State Defense:
The Beavers have not put as much pressure on the opposing quarterback this season as the fans had expected, with just one sack in their first two games. The front four will need to play lights out to get in Pike's face and create turnover opportunities -- or at least throw his timing off.
Pike can get flustered if pressured, reflected in his only interception against Rutgers facing heavy pressure.
If the Beavs put the pressure on and control the trenches, the Cincy pass game takes a big hit, and so do their chances to come out of Corvallis with a win.
The secondary continues to grow and will have to have a short memory come Saturday. Pike more than likely will get his yards, but the defense needs to stiffen inside the 20's and continue their bend but don't break mentality.
It is unknown if Tim Clark will shadow Gilyard all game or not -- either way, it will take a defensive team effort to control and slow the Cincinnati offense.
Oregon State Offense:
The offense has been criticized by many for not taking shots downfield last game and again relying too heavily on the Rodgers brothers. What has seemed to escape the critics is the giant zero in the turnover column.
Protecting the ball and capitalizing on opportunities is what must happen if OSU hopes to come out with a spotless 3-0 record and move up in the polls.
Ball control with Jacquizz will be the theme of the day, anything to keep the potent offense of Cincy on the sidelines.
And that means owing the trenches on offense, too.
The aggressive Bearcat defense has recorded six sacks -- surprisingly, five came against Rutgers to just one versus Southeast Missouri State.
Screens, draws, and misdirection seem the right fit against such an active front seven.
Expect the Rodgers brothers to be used early and often, and the vertical passing game to be explored a little more this week.
Keeping the defense honest and guessing will open running lanes for Quizz and crossing routes for the receiving crew.
Key To The Game:
The trench battle will play a huge role but keep an eye on special teams as well. The ST units nearly cost OSU the game at UNLV and they'll need to be solid this week in ways they were not in Vegas. Points can't be left on the board ,and coverage teams cannot give up long returns. P Johnny Hekker needs to continue his long boots, not get one blocked and create OSU field position advantage. Justin Kahut meanwhile will need to summon his game winning kick mindset from the beginning of the game and on through to the final gun.
BF.C Breakdown: No. 17 Cincinnati
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