Series: West Virginia leads series 10-0-1.
Bearcats to watch:
QB-Gino Guidugli, RB-DeMarco McCleskey, WR LaDaris Vann, OL Josh Gardner, DE-Antwan Peek, DE-Jonathan Ruffin, LB Willis Edwards, K-Jonathan Ruffin
WVU - Anthony Mims (Hamstring) Out, Darnell Glover (Knee) Out, A.J. Nastasi, (Ankle) Out
UC – DT Mike Wright (Knee) Out
WVU 0-0, 1-1
UC 1-0, 1-0
Sat. 9/14 7:00 pm
Series: WVU 10-0-1
BCS: WVU-68 - UC-54
Line: UC -6
Stats & Trends
This match up will decide the outcome of the game. If QB Rasheed Marshall can find his touch and hit open receivers, the Bearcat defense could be in for a long day. Cincinnati struggled against TCU's passing game allowing 20 completions for 253 yards, which ranks them 85th nationally in passing efficiency defense. The key to the WVU passing game will be the ability of the offense line to protect Marshall from the aggressive Bearcat defensive front. Cincinnati recorded 35 sacks last year and considers its pass rush as a team strength.
The Mountaineers have yet to see the Avon Cobourne of last year. Cobourne's first two games were solid but more is expected from one of the top running backs in the country. This week could be the week that Cobourne breaks through with a great performance. If WVU passing attack can get going early, the holes for Avon will be wide and plentiful. Look for Avon to get at least 120 yards rushing.
Advantage : West Virginia
WVU defense vs. UC offense
Footballs will be flying around Nippert Stadium on Saturday! Cincinnati QB Gino Guidugli threw the ball 38 times for 289 yards against TCU, which means it will be imperative that Mountaineer defense put pressure on Guidugli to force the sophomore into some bad decisions. The Bearcat running attack is lead by Senior DeMarco McCleskey. McCleskey racked up 84 yards rushing on 21 attempts against TCU and will look to add to his career total of 2,210 yards against the Mountaineers. Unfortunately for DeMarco, he will not reach the 100-yard plateau on Saturday. WVU should be able to control the Bearcat running game but they will struggle against the Bearcat passing game. Cincinnati has a good blend of size and speed with their wide receivers. The 6'3" Jon Olinger lead the way against TCU with 128 yards, 75 of them coming on a reception which resulted in a TD. LaDarius Vann and Tye Keith are speedy receivers but are small (5'9 and 5'8 respectively) which will make for some interesting match-ups with the Mountaineer defensive backs.
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Coach Rodriguez would love nothing more than to get a few big plays out of his special teams. WVU has blocked one punt this year but has struggled in the return game (WVU ranks 81st in punt returns (7.1 yds/return) and 76th in kickoff returns (18.6 yds/return). The good news? The Bearcats only average 2.1 yds/ punt return and 19.7 yds/ kickoff return.
Now that we have established that neither team has much of a return game, we ask, which team has the better kickers? WVU has a solid kicker in JR Todd James but Cincinnati has their own record setting kicker. Jonathan Ruffin has kicked 62 straight extra points, one away from the Bearcat record. In the punting category, neither team has been world-beaters. The Bearcats average 27.3 net yards which ranks them 103rd in the nation while the Mountaineers aren't much better with a net average of 33.7
Advantage : West Virginia
Picks to Click:
On Offense: Phil Braxton
On Defense: Jahmile Addae
Stat of the week:
WVU is 3-21 as a road underdog. The Bearcats are 19-4 as a home favorite
WVU hasn't won a road game since a 31-24 double overtime win over Rutgers on November 11th 2000. Unfortunately I don't see that streak ending until we return to Piscataway to face Rutgers on October 12th. WVU's defense is still trying to find itself by tweaking the schemes here and there. Against the Badgers, we saw glimpses of what this offense could be but we also saw what inexperience could do to a team in a rowdy atmosphere. The Bearcats will be fired up for this one. After all, WVU did try to steal their basketball coach!
WVU 24 - Cincinnati 27
PS: Don't shoot the messenger!