Bits and Bytes - Cincinnati

All the last minute tidbits and observations you need to carry you right up to kickoff on Saturday.


After a vanilla opening game, it won't be a surprise to see the Bearcats open their bag of tricks against West Virginia. WVU proved susceptible to gadget plays in the Continental Tire Bowl last year, and there's no doubt that UC is well aware of that fact.

Where might a trick play originate? One good place to look would be wide receiver, where starter George Murray is also the Bearcats' backup QB. We smell an option pass off a reverse coming.


West Virginia uber-linebacker Grant Wiley has added stripping the football to his vast collection of skills. The aggressive senior is third in the nation in forced fumbles after ripping two footballs away from East Carolina ball carriers last week.


The perception, and the design, of the WVU defense is that it stops the run and tries to prevent the big pass play while yielding short passes. Early statistics, however, don't line up with that notion.
Game Info
WVU 1-1, 0-0
UC 1-0, 1-0
Sat 9/13 Noon
Mountaineer Field
Series: WVU 11-0-1
TV: ESPN Regional
Sagarin: WVU-29 UC-40
Line: WVU -7
Stats & Trends
WVU is rated 79th in the nation in rushing defense, giving up 162.5 yards per game. And although opposing quarterbacks have completed a high percentage of passes against the Mountaineers, WVU's pass defense is third in the Big East, and 46th nationally.

What does all this mean? Probably not a lot, to be honest. We all know that statistics can be skewed due to various game conditions. However, it is an excellent indicator of how the numbers often don't reflect our perceptions of what's happening on the field.


Last year's 35-32 nailbiter was an anomaly for the WVU-UC series. Seven of the 12 games in the series have been decided by 28 points or more, with another game having a 14 point margin.


West Virginia is riding a six game road winning streak in regular season games dating back to the Cincinnati game of a year ago. WVU will likely be hard pressed to equal the school record of 17 consecutive regular season road wins, set from 1952-1955.

Click for Morgantown, West Virginia Forecast
That stretch from WVU's "Golden Era" does include the road Sugar Bowl loss to Georgia Tech, which splits the 17 game regular season streak into runs of nine and eight games.

WVU wasn't playing all patsies during that stretch, either. The Mountaineers defeated Penn State, South Carolina and Pitt twice each, and also notched victories over North Carolina State and Virginia during the streak.


UC head coach Rick Minter is 49-56-1 during his ten year tenure in the Queen City. Is the Cincinnati administration showing the same sort of restraint and patience in keeping Minter aboard as Virginia Tech did despite a rough start to Frank Beamer's career?

Recent results seem to bear that theory out. The Bearcast have been to bowl games in four of the past six seasons, and UC appears to have put their football program on very solid footing.

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