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Bearcats need special delivery at FedEx Field

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Here's a crucial game for both teams before we hit October pumpkin season.  This is the odd "home game"  we've known about for a number of years that has finally arrived.

Not meaning to step on any toes, but speaking as a long-time UC fan and alum, this game was sold.  UC gave up the right to play at Nippert (or likely Paul Brown Stadium) for cash.  The school needed cash, they got it and what's done is done.

Hopefully, the cash was used wisely as it's certainly hard to come by these days.

This is all pre-Butch Jones, so it's been a known factor for years and I'm sure Coach will have his men prepared.  (Perhaps more so than the last time UC met Virginia Tech in the Orange Bowl.)

For the record, approximate driving distance from your normal tailgate spots in Corryville to Landover, Maryland is nine hours and 15 minutes for the "home" Bearcats.  The "visiting" Hokies will travel four hours and 55 minutes from the hills of Blacksburg.

Still, Virginia Tech typically travels well and geographically Virginia is in much closer proximity to D.C. and the surrounding Maryland area than the Queen City.

Should the Bearcats ride the Dan Hoard win streak at FedEx Field (announced the Bengals win over the Redskins Sunday) then everything should be OK.

One more pivotal question....

If Ohio is indeed the "swing state" for the presidential election, will we see President Obama or Governor Romney on hand in a Bearcat jersey?

To the match-up now:

WHEN: Saturday at 3:30
WHERE: The aforementioned FedEx Field in Landover, Maryland.
SERIES: Virginia Tech leads 5-4
LAST TIME: Hokies beat UC in the Orange Bowl 20-7 January 1, 2009.
RECORDS:  Virginia Tech (3-1) Cincinnati (2-0)
WHERE DO I WATCH IT:  Anywhere that brings you ESPNU in living color.

UC offense vs. Virginia Tech defense

The Hokies shut out Bowling Green last week, allowed Austin Peay seven, Georgia Tech 17 and then had the mysterious 35-17 loss to Pitt.   The logical thinking is UC will score somewhere between what Pitt and Georgia Tech did.  If they have miscues like they did against Delaware State, things might not go so well.  Pitt won with Rushel Shell gaining 157 yards. While in a spread, UC's bread and butter has been running the ball.  If George Winn can hover around or over the 100-yard mark again, UC should get enough yards from Munchie Legaux and Ralph David Abernathy IV to be successful.  Passing-wise, Leguax's overall numbers were good, but he'll not be able to have the turnovers he did last game.

Linebacker Jack Tyler will be eying the Bearcat runners as he's the Hokies top tackler. Trying to chase down Legaux will be Virginia Tech sack leaders Tyrel Wilson and James Gayle. Munchie's elusiveness will be crucial in this one.

UC will also have to be consistent.  While the teams are different, Tony Pike and Mardy Gilyard marched down the field in UC's first possession in the 2009 Orange Bowl then never scored again.  Virginia Tech will not sweat a deficit.

The pick:  Bearcats should move the ball.  If they regain their confidence in the redzone, all will be well.

UC defense vs. Virginia Tech offense

Stop. The. Run. Stop the run. I repeat, stop the run.  In particular, the 6-foot-6 260-pound, Dante Culpepper-like quarterback Logan Thomas.   He throws OK, but that's not his game. He is a threat running the football.  Think Travis Kelce at quarterback (by the way, remember his Wildcat touchdowns?).  Thomas' completion percentage is just a tad over 50 percent, so  he's not going to pick you apart throwing.  When he does, the Hokies have good-sized receivers in Marcus Davis, Corey Fuller and Dyrell Roberts.  However, an "old school" coach like Frank Beamer will also emphasize the run and Virginia Tech is 6-0 recently when gaining 200 or more yards on the ground.

Walter Stewart, Dan Giordano, Greg Blair, Malik Bomar and company have to play some "smashmouth" football.  Getting a taller Drew Frey back at safety will also be a plus. Of that group I just named, Virginia Tech's Thomas outweighs Blair, Bomar, Frey and Stewart and is equal to Giordano. Of UC's usual defensive lineman, only Adam Dempsey, Jordan Stepp and John Williams carry more poundage than Thomas.

The lowdown:  If UC can tackle Thomas on the lowdown and get a little help from the mythical "Fumblelina" the game could be controlled.  Obviously, if the Hokies control the line of scrimmage, they'll likely control the game.

Special Teams


For years, "Beamer Ball" at Virginia Tech has been based on special teams success. Punt returner Kyshoen Jarrett has already had a 94-yard return for a score.  The Virginia Tech force is also pretty good at blocking kicks, so snaps, holds and loft are going to be crucial to the UC kicking game. Virginia Tech's Cody Journell's long field goal this season has just been 41 yards,so that's something that could be a factor if it's a close game. Tony Miliano is 3-3 for UC with a long of 46.

Nod:  It's a foreign field for both, but the Hokies played there last year with Boise State and will have the advantage of more familiarity and more physical fan support. Best bet for UC? Score touchdowns.

Intangibles

As just mentioned, Virginia Tech played at FedEx Field a year ago and their fans are more likely to make the pilgrimage since it's a more manageable drive.  Plus, a Saturday in Blacksburg WITHOUT a football game?  What do you do? UC and their fans also have to get over the Hokies loss to Pitt. While UC dominated Pitt, they stumbled and were not as efficient against a lesser Delaware State team.  They actually need to take the attitude Pitt had when they stormed over the Hokies. The Bearcats need to play as spirited as an 0-2 team looking to prove people wrong instead of a 2-0 team that could let it's guard down.  That's where the coaches come in and I'm sure Butch Jones and staff will be in their face the rest of the week. Their is no home field advantage in this "home" game, so UC must seize the moment and take over the neutral site.

Next up: A REAL home game as UC protects the Victory Bell against the Miami Redhawks Oct. 6.


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