Big Saturday breakdown

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I usually use Friday to give a matchup preview of the weekend's football game so all of my loyal readership (I'm looking at you, Gary) can watch the game as an intelligent viewer.

Well, I can't let you down, so I will do so yet again, however, with two games taking place in Clifton this will be a special Double Issue.

Typically, when you see the double issue in Sports Illustrated or some other reputable organization, it arrives twice as thick and overflowing with content.

That's not the case here.

I will tackle twice the teams in the same amount of space. Some may call this laziness (and they wouldn't be all wrong, but with a 12-hour day ahead tomorrow, I'm not real concerned) but I PR spin this as actually much tougher to do. Rather than you wasting your time sifting through loads of info, I strain and push myself to pick out the most pertinent pieces of information to impress and inform your tailgate.

Spread the word, my sons and daughters. Spread the word.

Let's run chronilogcically...


Player to watch: Dion Dixon

Dixon disappointed in the opener. After five strong exhibition games and months of progress, Dixon probably put a bit too much pressure on himself. There's little reason to expect Dixon's struggles against Mount St. Mary's to become a season-long problem, but Cronin admitted he needs to be sure Dixon doesn't get too far down on himself after a bad game.

A strong rebound for Dixon would go a long way to restoring any confidence lost in the opener at a position UC desperately needs Dixon to thrive in this year.

More than that, IPFW will hoist up 3-pointers by the truckload. Perimeter defense will play a major role in UC avoiding what happened to Xavier, who was pushed into overtime by the Mastadons. Dixon's defense will probably be more important than his offense in the grand scheme of this game.

Statistic to watch: Rebounds

Mick Cronin came away disappointed with UC's effort on the glass in the opener. Despite holding a signficant size advantage, the Cats tied the points in the paint battle and only won the rebounding margin by five.

They spent much of the week working on rebounding technique and hopefully the emphasis pays off against another much smaller team in IPFW.

IPFW's top rebounder, John Peckinpaugh, is only 6-foot-5.

Center Trey McCorkle is 6-10, 235 pounds, but hasn't been much on the boards in the first two games of the year.

Best case scenario 

Bearcats offense thrives -- for 40 minutes. Yancy Gates goes double-double 20-10, Dixon rebounds to post 18 points, Cashmere Wright has seven assists without a turnover. The Bearcats win the rebounding battle by 15 and create 20 turnovers.

UC posts 100 points and the university decides midway through the game that if the Cats reach 100 the ticket stub will be worth a free 3-way at Skyline.

Worst case scenario

See, Xavier, Tuesday. Then add IPFW getting hot in OT and pulling the upset. The university decides midway through the game in a falsely confident manner to let the Bearcat mascot be property of IPFW the rest of the year if they lose and, consequently, school spirit lags the rest of the season.


Rutgers at UC

Player to watch (offense): Armon Binns

The common thread through UC wins has been the performance of Binns. When the Bearcats win, Binns plays well. Their biggest win of the year against Louisville was Binns best game.

With so much uncertainty surrounding the Bearcats defense right now, the Bearcats need to post points. Doing that against Rutgers usually comes through the air. They are 25th in the country in total defense, but 64th in pass efficiency defense.

Also, no starter in the Rutgers defensive backfield is taller than 6-foot-1. Binns should be able to haul in some jump balls over the top of the smallish defenders.

Player to watch (defense): Dan Giordano

Quietly, Giordano has become one of the best players on the Bearcats. He leads the team in tackles for loss (8) and sacks (4).

Loudly, Rutgers offensive line has been a bumbling disaster.

The Scarlet Knights are dead last in FBS in sacks allowed. It's not pretty. If Giordano can dominate the line like many DL have against Rutgers this year, the pressure can make up for the youth in the Bearcats defensive backfield. 

Best case scenario

The defense turns the corner and owns the inept Rutgers offense for its first shutout of the season. Derek Wolfe and Dan Giordano combine for 5 sacks, the Bearcats create four turnovers.

It turns into a wave of momentum on the defense and the young group comes together over the final three games of the season and into a bowl game.

Worst case scenario

Anything that ends in an L. It doesn't matter how it happens. 

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