Four Stats For Victory

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What: West Virginia at Cincinnati, noon, ABC, Paul Brown Stadium

Four Stats For Victory

1. Isaiah Pead plus 150.
Inability to stop the run defined West Virginia's defensive spiral the last three weeks. Each of the last three weeks, the opposing team's top rusher averaged about 5 yards per carry. None of those were ranked in the top eight in the conference in yards per carry. Pead ranks second.

Pead was disgusted by his performance against South Florida. He said he missed too many holes attempting to break the big run. If he sticks to the reads and makes the right cuts, he'll be able to break to the second level. When he does, well, we've seen this before.

2. More than three sacks.
Smith will pick apart the UC defense if he has time to throw. The same argument could be made for many Bearcats opponents this year, but perhaps none more than Smith. He's throw for at least 370 yards in five of nine game this season.

Try this on for size: Who are the top three leaders in the Big East in 30+yard pass receptions?

1. Stedman Bailey, WVU, 8
2. Tavon Austin, WVU, 6
3. Ivan McCartney, WVU, 6

Forget team, no other receiver in the conference owns more than four (Kenbrell Thompkins, DJ Woods both have four).

The Mountaineers will throw up top and they won't stop until you're crying for your mommy. UC must harass Smith. And they must do it often. I'll say more than three sacks as the stat to shoot for, but constant QB hurries will cause the desired effect.

If they don't, well.....

3. Win the turnover battle. UC ranks third in the country in turnover margin (+13), behind only Oklahoma State and LSU. West Virginia ranks 60th with a 14 giveaways and 14 takeaways. Whether it be Walter Stewart tipping a pass intercepted by Cam Cheatham or Drew Frey diving to snag an overthrown pass, UC has found itself in the right spots all season. The turnover binge has defined their defense. It must again to keep WVU's attack off the field.

Zach Collaros efficiently avoiding red zone turnovers -- as he did against Pittsburgh -- will be imperative, as well. Don't be afraid to take three, because this game will likely be decided by that number.

Special teams can create turnovers as well. Just ask Louisville.

4. Trail in the fourth quarter.
Why not? Time to embrace it. In each of the last three games the Bearcats trailed in the final quarter but found a way to win. There's not reason to abort a plan that works. If UC holds a lead as the seconds roll off the clock in the third, it's time to purposely toss an interception to set up the latest come-from-behind scenario.

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