Preview: West Virginia - Cincinnati

The Mountaineers take their last road trip of the regular season to Nippert Stadium to visit a bunch of opportunistic, hard-hitting Bearcats.






BlueGoldNews.com Game Scorecard
Series: WVU 13-1-1
Sat 11/17/07 7:45 PM
Cincinnati, OH

Nippert Stadium
Record: 8-1
BCS: 6
Last Game
UofL W 38-31

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Record: 8-2
BCS: 22
Last Game
UCONN W 27-3
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Press Release
Season Stats
2007 Schedule
First Meeting: 1970
Last Meeting: 2006
Rosters/Bios
Press Release
Season Stats
2007 Schedule

Injuries:

WVU - James Ingram (Back) Out, Will Johnson (Knee) Questionable, Antonio Lewis (Head) Probable,

UC - Chirs Jurek Questionable

Game Outlook:

WVU offense vs. UC defense

The Bearcat defense's strength is causing opposing offenses to turn the ball over, as Cincinnati ranks third in the nation in turnover margan, at 1.60. Their specialty has been snagging interceptions, in which they lead the nation with 22.

One of the main reasons for the success of the defense has been the play of senior free safety Haruki Nakamura (5-10, 190). Nakamura leads the team with 67 tackles to go along with four interceptions. The Ohio native is generally all over the field and seems to be involved on every tackle.

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Game Info
WVU 8-1, 3-1
UC 8-2, 3-2
Sat 11/17/07 7:45 PM
Nippert Stadium
Series: WVU 13-1-1
TV: ESPN
Mike Patrick - play-by-play
Todd Blackledge - analysis

Holly Rowe - sideline
USA: WVU-5th UC-25th
Line: WVU -7
Teaming with Nakamura at safety is Anthony Williams (6-1, 205). Williams has racked up 55 stops and plays very well against the run, a skill that will be tested on Saturday.

Rounding out the defensive backfield are Mike Mickens (6-0, 190) and DeAngelo Smith (6-0, 190). This dynamic duo leads all cornerback tandems in the country with 10 interceptions and have combined for 10 pass break-ups and 79 tackles. Mickens is another active player that gets to the ball no matter where it is on the field.

The Bearcats' linebacking corps is comprised of Corey Smith (6-1, 225), Ryan Manalac (6-0, 235) and Leo Morgan (6-1, 230). Smith and Manalac have been the standout performers with 125 tackles and 10.5 tackles for a loss. Look for Manalac to drop back into pass coverage, and also be one of the main weapons in stopping WVU's bubble screens.

On the Bearcat defensive line, keep your eye number 12, Anthony Hoke (6-1, 255). Hoke absolutely dominated the UConn offensive line and has totaled 40 tackles, 12.5 tackles for a loss and nine sacks on the season.

Joining Hoke on the defensive front are Angelo Craig (6-5, 245), Terrill Byrd (6-1, 290) and Adam Hoppel (6-2, 300). The trio has combined for nine quarterback sacks and 22.5 tackles for a loss.

By The Numbers :
WVU is ranked 14th in total offense (462.67 yds/game), third in rushing offense (288.78 yds/game) and 106th in passing offense (173.89 yds/game)

UC is ranked 44th in total defense (360.00 yds/game), 13th in rushing defense (98.80 yds/game) and 97th in passing defense (261.20 yds/game).

Advantage: WVU

WVU defense vs. UC offense

Leading the potent Cincinnati offense will be Wake Forest transfer Ben Mauk (6-1, 200). Mauk played last season for the Demon Deacons before sustaining a leg injury against Syracuse that ended his season. The senior transferred under the since rescinded post-graduate transfer rule, the same one that allowed Ryan Mundy to strap it up for the Mountaineers this season.

The Ohio native has posted some very impressive numbers, with 2,033 yards passing and 21 touchdowns against only six interceptions. Mauk is also a running threat with 279 yards on 63 carries for an average of 4.4 yards per carry.

The running back position has been a committe spot this season manned by a trio of Bearcats. Butler Benton (6-1, 220) has started seven games and is the team's leading rusher with 434 yards and two touchdowns. The second leading rusher is Greg Moore (6-2, 225), a senior with good size, who has started one game and has racked up 402 yards on 71 carries (5.7 yards per tote) and two touchdowns. The projected starter for the West Virginia game is Jacob Ramsey (6-1, 230). Ramsey will be making his third consecutive start and is third on the team with 342 yards and three touchdowns.

Leading the receiving corps this season for the Bearcats is Dominick Goodman (6-1, 210). The Cincinnati native has hauled in a team leading 49 passes for 612 yards and has added six touchdowns. Goodman recorded eight receptions for a season high of 127 yards against Connecticut.

Rounding out the main receiving targets for Mauk are Marcus Barnett (6-4, 175) and Marshawn Gilyard (6-1, 190). Barnett, a redshirt freshman has 39 receptions for 508 yards and eight touchdowns while Gilyard, a converted defensive back, has averaged 14.9 yards on 36 catches in UC's revitalized passing attack.

The Bearcat line is led by senior Digger Bujnoch (6-5, 285). The left tackle has notched 30 starts and has been named twice to the Big East Conference All-Academic Football Team.

Starting at right tackle will be Jeff Linkenbach (6-6, 295). Linkenbach was named to the Sporting News' Big East All-Freshman Team in 2006 and has been sharing time with Khalil El-Amin (6-5, 315) this season.

Manning the guard positions will be Ken Rodriguez (6-3, 290) and Trevor Canfield (6-5, 295). Rodriguez, a junior college transfer, and Canfield have combined for 32 starts on the Bearcat line.

Starting at center will be either Chris Jurek (6-2, 290) or Chris Flores (6-2, 285). Jurek, a sophomore, has started nine games this season but has been banged up of late. If Jurek can't play then Flores, who was named to the Big East All-Academic Team in 2006 will get the nod.

By The Numbers :
WVU is ranked fourth in total defense (275.44 yds/game), 12th in rushing defense (94.00 yds/game) and 10th in passing defense (181.44 yds/game).

UC is ranked 31st in total offense (428.50 yds/game), 47th in rushing offense (165.30 yds/game) and 31st in passing offense (263.20 yds/game).

Advantage: Push

WVU special teams vs. UC special teams

The Bearcat special teams have been lead by the performance of punter Kevin Huber (6-1, 220). Huber has had an excellent season, ranking number one in the nation with an average of 46.7 yards per punt. The junior has had 31 of his 45 punts either fair caught, land in the endz one or stuck inside the opponent's 20 yard-line.

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Handling the kicking duties will be either Jake Rogers (6-3, 205) or Brandon Yingling (6-1, 200). After missing an extra point attempt against USF, it looks like head coach Brain Kelly, may replace Rogers with Yingling for the WVU game. Rogers has connected on 8-15 field goal attempts and 38-41 PATs this season.

Returning kickoffs for Cincinnati will be a combination of Goodman and Ramsey, the starting wide receiver and running back, respectively. The duo has combined to average of 20 yards per return on 28 attempts.

Returning punts for the Bearcats will be Nakamura, the Cats' best defensive player. The senior has averaged 7.2 yards per return with a long of 24 yards.

By The Numbers :
WVU is ranked 70th in net punting (34.43 yds/punt), 58th in kick returns (21.78 yds/return) and 33rd in punt returns (10.94 yds/return).

UC is ranked 5th in net punting (39.00 yds/punt), 55th in kick returns (21.89 yds/return) and 61st in punt returns (8.58 yds/return)

Advantage: Slight edge to WVU

Picks to Click:

On Offense: Noel Devine

On Defense: Eric Wicks

Prediction:

The Mountaineers have dominated the 15-game series with Cincinnati, winning 13 times, but these Bearcats have more bite than previous editions. Coach Brian Kelly's troops have won their last four games against nationally ranked opponents and have climbed into the top 25 themselves after impressive wins over USF and UConn.

With the Mountaineer offense not quite clicking on all cylinders this game comes down to one statistic: 'Points Off Turnovers'. The Bearcats are 8-0 when they turn miscues into points, and 0-2 when failing to score from turnovers. If West Virginia turns the ball over more than one or two times, the Blue and Gold will suffer its second loss of the season.

WVU - 27 UC - 21


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