Four Stats For Victory

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Cincinnati at Rutgers, noon, ESPNU

1. Five plays of 30-plus yards.
Rutgers doesn't allow many double-digit play touchdown drives. Success against the Knights comes in chunks -- big ones. Check out yesterday's Breakfast for the statistical breakdown.

Either Isaiah Pead or Munchie Legaux must bust long runs. Pead will almost certainly provide one or two. He always does. He owns a run of at least 33 yards in six of nine games this year and Rutgers allowed a 100-yard rusher in every conference game. The stage is set for him.

Munchie needs to add at least one long run like the one he produced against West Virginia. Then, when Rutgers stacks the box or brings the house with eight and nine defenders, forcing Munchie to beat them, he needs to do so up top. He can't miss the wide open receiver sprinting beyond the safeties. Not Saturday. He just can't afford to.

2. Two turnovers or less from Munchie. We expect there to be a turnover or two because of inexperience. To think Legaux could go without a mistake against the blitzes and pressure Rutgers will be bringing would be unrealistic. It will happen. Hopefully, it doesn't hurt too much and UC can come away unscathed or only allowing three. Keeping it to just one or two turnover mistakes will be key. None of the nerves-induced airmailed ducks into the secondary or last second tosses that could be ruled fumbles like we saw last week.

Legaux can make mistakes, just don't make more than two of them.

You could make the same argument whether it was Legaux in there or Zach Collaros. UC's Turnover Margin Express derailed as conference play progressed. The team that led the nation with a plus-14 turnover margin through four games has won the turnover battle but one time in the last five.

Here's the season tally:

Opponent  Take/Give/Margin
Austin Peay  5/0/5
Tennessee    2/0/2
Akron           6/1/5
NC State      3/1/2
Miami          2/4/-2
Louisville      1/1/0
So. Florida   4/3/1
Pittsburgh    2/2/0
WVU           1/2/-1 
TOTALS    26/14/12

As much as we laud UC's opportunistic defense, they are even in turnover margin in conference play which puts them in the middle of the pack, ranked fourth in the Big East.

3. Four or more sacks. This number is a constant in the 4S4V. It's the key to Cincinnati's defense. They must terrorize the QB. Never has that been more important than during this two-week stretch. They did a great job of not allowing Geno Smith to get comfortable last week and only allowed one explosive play -- the 58-yard TD pass -- and 17 points.

Anybody who watched Mark Harrison and Mohamed Sanu torch UC's secondary during the wild 69-38 game last year at Nippert knows what Rutgers is capable of. Both have the UC corners significantly outsized.

Mohamed Sanu (6-2, 215) vs. Cam Cheatham (5-9, 190)
Mark Harrison (6-3, 230) vs. Deven Drane (5-11, 180)

Rutgers loves Sanu on the short/intermediate routes because the Big East's record-holder for receptions in as season is so quick and doesn't drop anything. Harrison can be the deep threat and if UC can't disrupt Dodd's rhythm and force him to make bad decisions -- the type of decisions that got him benched earlier this year -- Rutgers boasts the weapons to throw all over UC.

4. No missed FGs.
With a backup QB against the top defense in the Big East, scoring opportunities can't be squandered. If not for two missed/blocked field goals against WVU, UC would have come away with the victory. Consider every UC conference game has been decided by single digits and three of the four by three points and it's clear how imperative it will be for redshirt freshman Tony Miliano, long snapper Tom DeTemple and holder Pat O'Donnell to bounce back from the tough Saturday at PBS.

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