Beginning of a sneaky week in the UC season. Warning flags have flown around this game all year. Reports from the Land Up North repeated that this Rockets team looks more like it belongs in the Big East than even some playing in the Big East.
And the MAC undeniably looked more like it belongs among the AQ conferences than any year in recent memory. The Rockets (6-1, 4-0) lost one game this season, and it came in overtime in the desert at night against Arizona.
They've scored 177 points the last four weeks, averaging nearly 40 points per game.
There's a reason programs don't schedule these games. Going on the road against quality MAC teams doesn't make for a winning proposition. UC will be favored, and rightfully so for a team ranked No. 21 in the BCS standings. When winning this game draws a national yawn and losing a gasp, that's the old lose-lose situation. The business-folk will tell you to avoid those.
Only, UC can't. With Louisville looming, they certainly can't take this red flag lightly or spend one minute looking ahead.
Could there be any more trap game characteristics here? Huge game the next week. Facing traditionally inferior conference. Underrated, hot opponent. First true road game.
"We don't take anybody lightly," TE Travis Kelce said. "As the competition rises as a competitor you look forward to the big games. We look forward to the nationally televised and the big scene. We are definitely looking forward to (the rest of the schedule)."
--- I walked away from Saturday more impressed by five touchdowns in five drives than concerned about the first half.
Does this team need to put a full game together? Absolutely. As Danny Milligan pointed out after the game, if they played a poor half like that against Louisville, "it would be very ugly."
Still, the potential of how well this offense can be when clicking was made apparent in one of the most efficient offensive displays you'll see. That's the way the offense should look against an FCS school, but executing remains a different animal. The Bearcats spread the ball around, were balanced and produced big plays.
Seven players caught passes of at least 10 yards. Four different players produced a rush of at least 20 yards.
Nobody will throw a ticker-tape parade for showing off depth and variety against the Patriot League, but the potential of this offense was exposed.
--- I wrote about the buttons Butch Jones pushed at halftime to expedite the second-half explosion. Few coaches are as close with their players as Jones.
Todd Jones of the Columbus Dispatch touched on this last week.
In no situation does that relationship pay off more than needing to find the motivational needs on the fly. Knowing calm and poise would win out over anger and rage made the difference in 49-17.
--- Drew Frey and Anthony McClung did not play due to injury, Jones said. McClung was dressed, but without a helmet on the sidelines. No word on their status for Saturday.
--- Bearcats stayed at No. 21 in the AP poll, debuted at the same spot in the first BCS rankings and advanced to No. 18 in the Coaches Poll.
If UC can leave the Glass Bowl unscathed and Louisville beat USF, should be two top 20 teams on Friday night ESPN from the Pizza Box.
--- How about this stat pointed out by Interim President Ono: The Big East has more teams in the BCS Standings than the ACC and B1G combined.
ACC: No. 14 Florida State, No. 19 Clemson
Big East: No. 15 Rutgers, No. 16 Louisville, No. 21 UC
--- Alex Chisum played the majority of snaps instead of Damon Julian at the spot opposite Kenbrell Thompkins. Looks like Chisum and Julian will be competing for playing team every week this year.
Chisum's athletic ability and potential possess a higher ceiling than Julian, but it appears Chisum needed a bit of a foot in the behind for his sophomore year. Not an uncommon plight.
He looked like the dynamic receiver who emerged last year. He pulled in two nice receptions, both 20 yards or longer.
--- Who is making the trip to Toledo? You must stop by Tony Packo's for the chili. This is not a suggestion. This is a demand because I want everyone to enjoy their experience.
--- You know I love my CBSSports.com folks, but can't help but wonder about these midseason awards and the jaded nature of only mentioning UC in the category of most overrated team.
Attempting to make a case that both Jawan Jamison and Senorise Perry deserve the nod over George Winn for the All-Conference RB spot holds zero water.
Here are the three by comparison
Player: Attpts-Yds Yds/Gm Yds/Rsh TDs
Jamison, Rutgers: 158-665 111 4.2 3
Winn, Cincinnati: 81-521 104 6.4 4
Perry, Louisville: 96-559 93 5.8 9
--- Winn leads the trio in yards per rush and is second in yards per game. He's only carried 81 times, but in one less game it's the exact same number of attempts per game as Perry.
The only advantage for Perry is the nine TDs he's racked up. Does it matter who takes it into the end zone anymore as long as somebody does? The Bearcats lead the conference in average points per game.
So on the team who scores the most points, Winn touches it as many times per game as Perry, averaging more yards per touch and 11 more yards per game.
The prosecution rests.
--- A very good shot remains only three Big East teams will be bowl eligible. Barring a run by Pitt or USF, you could see only Rutgers, Louisville and UC playing in the postseason. That means likely Miami, Orlando or Charlotte -- unless something really special happens. All winning locations in my book.
--- A reminder to students, the UC student government is sponsoring a bus trip to Toledo for this weekend's game. Get on board. Don't chastise the driver.
--- UC honored a number of former basketball players at Saturday's game. Keith Gregor was among those in attendance. If you grew up around this program and didn't love Keith Gregor there was something wrong with you.
Came across this gem in the UC sports information office last week and wanted to pass it along to bring out the nostalgia for you folks.
--- Andy Katz discusses UC hoops as the trendy pick to win the Big East. As everyone who reads this blog already knew, Cronin loves his depth, talent and leadership. The holy trinity of winning in his book.
--- Found it hard to believe four talented, informed writers could compile 68 things to watch for in college basketball this year and not include a single sentence about the Bearcats. As my good buddy Josh Katzowitz loves to say, it would be unbelievable if it weren't completely believable.
--- Randomness ...
--- The Rolling Stones will be going on tour again, playing four shows in the NY area. I love the Stones and could listen to them all day, but nobody thinks they are still seeing a quality act here do they? They are celebrating 50 years since their first gig.
Let's just hope all the stages are handicap accessible.
--- This Felix Baumgartner freefall from space yesterday was mesmerizing. As for the low-hanging fruit joke of the Cincy professional sports correlation, I'll only say it's too soon.
--- Can't believe this topic didn't work its way into the first Presidential Debate: What is the state of Jell-O Salad in America?
--- I've always been embarrassed at how sloppily I fold my t-shirts. Here's 48 seconds to fix that problem forever. Internet! Yes!
--- Sports Pickle with the seven types of HS assistant coaches. There are at least two parrots on every team.
--- With the Rolling Stones Sympathy For the Dentist Tour announced, would only be fitting to break out some of their finest work.
Remember, if you have any questions, comments, criticisms or music requests, shoot them to my email (firstname.lastname@example.org) or hit me up on Twitter at @pauldehnerjr.