It appears likely to be a sell out tonight at Bulldog Stadium. The local sports report said so. They talked to one freshman girl waiting for tickets and the guy who paints the lines inside the stadium. So you know it must be true.
Outside of that, it's hard to tell how much buzz exists for this game in Fresno. Of course, I've only been to a mexican restaraunt with some form of nicotine on their chips, the hotel pool and a convenience store that sells single cigarettes.
We will head over to the stadium around midday on the west coast and I will be making an appearance on the pregame show on 700WLW to talk a little Bearcats. Make sure you turn the duece down tonight and turn up Tommy G, Jim Kelly and Artrell Hawkins. Oh, and the screaming cheers of Mo Egger in the background.
The game kicks off at 10 p.m. EDT and will be on ESPN2. This shoudl be my last post before launching CoverItLive to open up the Bearcats discussion on the site about an hour before kickoff.
I won't be doing any predictions here. Setting myself up for that kind of scrutiny and disappointment is really unappealling, but I do want to deliver five things to watch tonight that will ultimately decide the game.
1. Fresno O-line vs. UC D-line:
No bigger battle exists in this game. The Bearcats must find a way to hold their ground against the massive road-graders the Bulldogs run out there. In particular, Derek Wolfe and John Hughes in the middle need to be disruptive and provide push.
If they don't, Fresno will shove the running game down the Bearcats' throat as they did last season when they held the ball for nearly 45 minutes. When adding in the home-field advantage, I don't know that the Bearcats can afford that type of differential again.
But if Fresno can't win and the Bearcats force the ball into the hands of Ryan Colburn, he's likely to make a couple mistakes.
2. Vidal Hazelton:
The enitre offense will be fun to watch in the first game of the Butch Jones area, but Hazelton is particularly intriguing. He's been waiting two years to take the field and by all accounts will be one of the breakout stars of this offense. If Fresno chooses to focus its senior CB Desia Dunn on Armon Binns, then sohpomore first-year starter Jermaine Thomas would be matched up on Hazelton. The Bearcats love their odds in that matchup.
3. Kevin Goessling vs. Jake Rogers:
In a game that should go down to the final minutes, the ability of the team's two accomplished kickers may end up the difference. I have a hunch at some point, one of these two will have to make a kick that will provide a lead change in the fourth quarter.
Butch Jones called Rogers one of the best kickers in the country and has had plenty of big kicks in his career. However, Goessling is 22 for his last 24 FGs, including 15 in a row.
He has three FGs of 50 or longer in his career, topping out at 58.
4. Zach Collaros:
How good can he be? Bearcats fans received a taste of Collaros ability last year. But with an offseason entrenched as the starter and fall camp developing into the undeniable leader of the offense and team, how much better is he? How will his timing be under the lights in the new offense. He's been on point in practices, but will the machine run smooth in a hostile enviornment? My guess is Collaros will be fantastic, but we shall see.
5. Chris Carter:
The largest reason for concern among the Bearcats offense. Carter was first-team all WAC last year and a beast flying off the defensive edge at 6-2, 240. He recorded two sacks against Wisconsin last year...with a broken hand. He'll test Sr. OT Sam Griffin off the edge. If Carter jumps into the backfield all night, he could cause serious disruption for the Bearcats attack.
That's all from here, we will see you again at game time where I will hopefully be posting my Doublemint Gum photo with Trent Dilfer before the CoverItLive discussion.
Enjoy the game.