Preview: West Virginia - Cincinnati

West Virginia looks to get back into the race for a BCS bowl bid as it hosts the Cincinnati Bearcats






BlueGoldNews.com Game Scorecard
Series: WVU 12-1-1
Sat 11/11 Noon
Morgantown, W. Va.

Milan Puskar Stadium
Record: 7-1
USA/Coaches: 10
Last Game
UofL L 34-44

Click for Morgantown, West Virginia Forecast
Record: 5-4
USA/Coaches: N/A
Last Game
Syracuse W 17-3
Rosters/ Bios
Press Release
Season Stats
2006 Schedule
First Meeting: 1921
Last Meeting: 2005
Rosters/Bios
Press Release
Season Stats
2006 Schedule

Common Opponents to Date:

Syracuse - (WVU W 41-17) / (Cincinnati W 17-3)

Louisville - (WVU L 34-44) / (Cincinnati L 17-23)

Injuries:

WVU: Johnny Dingle (Ankle) Probable, Ridwan Malik (Hip, Quad) probable, Steve Slaton (Wrist) Probable, Pat Liebig (Ankle) Questionable

UC - Tony Carvitti (Knee) Out, Mike Daniels (Knee) Out

Game Outlook:

WVU offense vs. UC defense

Cincinnati has been stout against the run this season, but has yielded more than 100 yards to Ohio State, Virginia Tech and Louisville. Still, the Bearcats hope to slow West Virginia's rushing attack with one of the better defenses in the conference.

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Game Info
WVU 7-1, 2-1
UC 5-4, 2-2
Sat 11/11 Noon
Milan Puskar Stadium
Series: WVU 12-1-1
TV: ESPN2
BCS: WVU 10th - UC N/A
Harris: WVU 10th - UC N/A
Line: WVU -19
Cincinnati's 4-3 defense is anchored by its front line, which has been active and excels at getting into the backfield to disrupt plays. Ends Trevor Anderson (6-2, 258) and Anthony Hoke (6-1, 245) aren't huge, but rely on agility and good technique to make plays. Anderson has 33 tackles and four sacks, while Hoke has 23 tackles, including six behind the line. The pair bookend tackle Terrill Byrd (6-1, 285) and Curtis Young (6-2, 235). Byrd has four TFLs, while Young has three sacks in part time duty with Thomas Claggett (6-2, 280). Angelo Craig (6-5, 220) also sees a good bit of time, and has 7.5 TFLs and four sacks from his backup spot.

Middle linebacker Kevin McCullough (6-2, 240) is the leader on the second level of the defense. He has 43 tackles to date, and is tied with Anderson in TFLs with 7.5. He earned player of the week honors against South Florida with a safety and a 39-yard fumble return for a score.

On the outside, Corey Smith (6-1, 220) and Leo Morgan (6-1, 230) are solid performers. Smith, a freshman All-America pick as a freshman in 2005, has 39 tackles, while Morgan has 41, including 27 in his last five games.

The star of the secondary is sophomore corner Mike Mickens (6-0, 165), who leads the league in pass breakups with ten, and also is second on the Bearcat tackle list with 43. He is an aggressive defender despite his slender build, and typically draws his team's toughest defensive assignment. Opposite Mickens is senior John Bowie (5-11, 190) who has three pass breakups and a fumble recovery.

If Mickens is the star performer, free safety Haruki Nakamura (5-10, 185) isn't far behind. An active and aggressive defender, Nakamura leads the Bearcats in stops with 45, and also has six pass breakups. He is teamed with strong safety Dominic Ross (6-0, 200), who has four interceptions and 42 stops on the season.

By The Numbers :
WVU is ranked third in total offense (469.38 yds/game), second in rushing offense (318.90 yds/game) and 106th in passing offense (150.50 yds/game)

UC is ranked 33rd in total defense (295.22 yds/game), 17th in rushing defense (89.33 yds/game) and 29th in passing efficiency defense (109.60 rating).

Advantage: WVU

WVU defense vs. UC offense

Cincinnati has struggled offensively at times this year, but some of that has to do with the quality of competition they have faced. However, the Bearcats do have some productive players on offense, led by quarterback Dustin Grutza (6-2, 212). The sophomore QB has completed 61% of his passes for 1423 yard this year, and is also a good scrambler who has gained 325 yards this year. Sacks lower that total to 204 yards, but Grutza must be accounted for when he drops back to pass.

Running back Greg Moore (6-2, 225) took over the starting duties three games into the season and leads the Bearcats with 522 yards. He's backed by Butler Benton (6-1, 210), who has more breakaway capability than Moore. Fullback Doug Jones (6-4, 273) is mostly a blocker, but befitting his tight end number (86) is a threat to catch the ball out of the backfield.

The receiving corps is respectable, but doesn't have a deep threat or give Grutza much in the way of explosive targets. Earnest Jackson (6-3, 215) is the most physically imposing of the group, but he has just 16 receptions on the year. Dominick Goodman (6-1, 200) has 23 receptions, and leads Cincinnati in all-purpose yardage with 71.8 markers per game.

Bill Poland (6-3, 205) has just four receptions on the season, but is a seasoned blocker who helps on the perimeter. His backup, Derrick Stewart ((%-11, 175) is much more of a playmaker, averaging 20.8 yards per catch. He had his best performance of the season in the last game out against Syracuse, snaring three balls for 91 yards and a score. With WVU's woes against the pass, Stewart will likely get a few shots downfield on Saturday.

Tight end Brent Celek (6-4, 260) is the main weapon in the UC passing game, as he leads the team in catches with 27 and yards with 344. He is the all time Cincinnati record holder in every tight end category, and has a knack for getting into vertical seams and making tough catches.

The addition of freshman tackle Jeff Linkenbach (6-6, 290) has made the Bearcat offensive line better, but it still has a long way to go to challenge some of the top groups in the Big East. Opposite Linkenbach is Differ Bujnoch (6-5, 290), who is a second year starter. The inside trio of guards Frank Straub (6-6, 310) and Trevor Canfield (6-5, 200) along with center Jeff Reistatler (6-2, 287) has struggled to provide consistent running room for the UC ground game.

By The Numbers :
WVU is ranked 30th in total defense (296.00 yds/game), 17th in rushing defense (92.38 yds/game) and 18th in passing efficiency defense (104.21).

UC is ranked 82nd in total offense (318.67 yds/game), 57th in rushing offense (142.00 yds/game) and 81sr in passing offense (176.67 yds/game).

Advantage: WVU

WVU special teams vs. UC special teams

Cincinnati's special teams have been a mixed bag, with the kickers an inconsistent lot.

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Punter Brian Steel (6-1, 220) averages just 37.4 yard per kick, although he has put 20 boots out of bounds inside opponents' 20-yard line. Teams are averaging 9.0 yards per return against him, putting his net punting average at 33.5. Placekicker Kevin Lovell (51-0, 160) has missed five field goals on the year (8-13) but has not missed a PAT.

Dominick Goodman (6-1, 222) is the star of the bomb squads, averaging 28.4 yards per kickoff return. That average is good for 11th nationally. Derrick Stewart is also very good on punt returns, averaging ten yards per attempt.

By The Numbers:
WVU is ranked 33rd in net punting (36.53 yds/punt), 24th in kick returns (22.78 yds/return) and 48th in punt returns (9.65 yds/return).

UC is ranked 98th in net punting (32.02 yds/punt), 11th in kick returns (25.55 yds/return) and 59th in punt returns (8.54 yds/return)

Advantage: Push

Picks to Click:

On Offense: Steve Slaton

On Defense: Ridwan Malik

Totally Useless Facts:

  • Brig Owens, who served as captain of the 1964 Bearcats, will be the honorary captain for the West Virginia game. Owens, who led UC to a 16-5 record in two years as an option quarterback, went on to a career in the NFL with the Washington Redskins and currently heads his own law firm, Brig Owens & Associates.

  • Despite the impression of UC as a local, commuter-type school, it is actually quite large. Cincinnati claims an enrollment of 35,244 – 9,000 more than West Virginia.

  • The first antihistamine and the first electronic organ were produced by UC.

Prediction:

Although Cincinnati has been successful in shutting down the run against some foes, it hasn't been as successful in facing the heavyweights. That West Virginia is an elite member of the nation's running schools is without doubt, and the Bearcats could see their defensive stats against the run rise dramatically on Saturday afternoon.

WVU - 41 UC - 22


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