Sept. 10, 2007
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Cincinnati and Miami (OH) clash for the 112th time in their celebrated football rivalry on Saturday, Sept. 15 at Yager Stadium. Kickoff is Noon.
Receiving votes in both the AP and the USA Today Top 25 polls for the first time since 1993, the Bearcats travel to Oxford, OH in possession of the Victory Bell. Cincinnati is looking to hold on to the rivalry trophy for back-to-back years for the first time since 2000.
Dating back to the 2006 season, the Bearcats are looking for their sixth win in-a-row, while head coach Brian Kelly looks to become the first Bearcat rookie mentor since Frank Staub in 1977 to start undefeated in his first four games.
The Bearcats, who started the campaign with wins on consecutive Thursday nights, look to start 3-0 for 20th time in program history and the first time since 2003.
Cincinnati and Miami (OH) are meeting for the 112th time in their celebrated football rivalry.
The oldest non-conference rivalry in football, in terms of longevity, the rivalry, which began in 1888 as the first football game played in the state of Ohio, is the second oldest in the NCAA Division I Bowl Subdivision.
The Bearcats are looking to win in Oxford for the first time since 1999.
The home team has been victorious in each of the last three battles for the Victory Bell.
BEARCATS LOOK TO CONTINUE CLIMB TOWARD TOP 25: After consecutive wins to start the season, Cincinnati (2-0) is on the fringe of the Top 25 for the first time since 1993. The Bearcats play their first road game of the season when they travel to Miami (OH) (1-1) on Saturday at Noon on ESPN Regional in the 112th edition of the Battle for the Victory Bell.
VOTERS TAKE NOTICE:
For the first time since the close of the 1993 season, pollsters in both the Associated Press and USA Today rankings gave recognition to the Bearcats in the weekly Top 25 polls. While Cincinnati received two votes from the coaches' poll, it claimed 12 markers in the AP poll.
SCOUTING THE REDHAWKS: One of the preseason favorites in the MAC East Division, Miami (OH) owns the title of being "The Cradle of Coaches". Coming off a 2-10 campaign last fall, third-year head coach Shane Montgomery is 10-15 (.400) as head coach. The RedHawks dropped a triple-overtime decision at Minnesota, 41-35 last week after taking a 14-13 come from behind win in its season opener. Miami (OH) is entertaining Cincinnati in its first home game of the season.
FRESH FACES: With the graduation of 15 seniors from its 2006 two-deep roster, including 10 starters, there are plenty of new faces on the field for Cincinnati. The Bearcats have had to replace four offensive starters, four defensive starters, and their punter, long snapper and kicker from a class that went to two bowl games. A total of 16 Bearcats have made their first career starts thus far this season.
FOR STARTERS: Cincinnati utilized six first-time starters in the 2007 season opener against Southeast Missouri State. The offense showcased five players making their first start for the Bearcats (Marcus Barnett, Marshwan Gilyard, Chris Jurek, Ben Mauk and Ken Rodriguez), while the defense used first-time starter (Andre Revels). Against Oregon State, Khalil El-Amin made his first career start at the right tackle.
FAMILIAR WITH THE REDHAWKS: First-year head coach Brian Kelly may be taking the Bearcats to Oxford for his first Battle for the Victory Bell, but Kelly is familiar with this week's opponent. Kelly guided Central Michigan to a 38-37 triumph over the RedHawks at Yager Stadium on Sept. 10, 2005.
KELLY UNBEATEN WITH THE BEARCATS: Dating back to the 2007 International Bowl, Brian Kelly is 3-0 as head coach of the Bearcats and off to one of the fastest starts in Cincinnati history. Kelly is the first rookie mentor to go unbeaten in his first three games since Ralph Staub began his first season 3-0-1 in 1977.
KELLY WINS HOME DEBUT: Beginning his first full season as head coach of the Bearcats, Brian Kelly became the 13th coach in Cincinnati history to win his first home game. UC head coaches are 13-8-1 in home debuts.
THROWN IN THE FIRE: There was plenty of on-the-job training in the Bearcats' season opener, as six redshirt freshmen landed spots on the two-deep. Cincinnati currently has one redshirt freshman (Jason Whitehead) listed on the defensive two-deep. While the offense boasts two redshirt freshmen (Marcus Barnett and Jason Kelce) and three redshirt freshmen (Mike Windt, Jake Rogers and Brandon Yingling) are on special teams.
UC vs. TEAMS FROM OHIO: Steeped in tradition on the gridiron, Cincinnati has an all-time mark of 187-193-23 (.493) against teams from the Great State of Ohio.
MASTERING THE MAC: Saturday's contest will be the Bearcats' only game vs. a member of the Mid-American Conference during the 2007 season. Victorious in three matchups against MAC teams a year ago, Cincinnati is 89-94-12 (.487) vs. teams that currently comprise the MAC.
THERE'S NO PLACE LIKE HOME: Off to a 2-0 start at home in 2007, over the past four seasons, the Bearcats are 19-6 (.760) when playing at Nippert Stadium. They posted a 6-1 mark at home in 2006, including a 30-11 victory over then-No. 7 Rutgers, the highest ranked foe ever to fall at UC.
OPENING ON THE RIGHT NOTE: Cincinnati is 72-38-10 (.642) all-time in season openers. UC has opened the season with a win in five of its last six seasons.
KICKING OFF THE YEAR AT HOME: The 2007 campaign marked the third consecutive season in which Cincinnati began the year with a home game. When opening the season at home, UC owns an impressive 37-14-3 record for a .713 winning percentage all-time. The Bearcats have won six straight home openers, dating back to Sept. 2, 2002, when they needed overtime to out duel TCU, 36-29. They have started the home schedule with a victory in eight of the last nine years.
PLAYING TAKEAWAY: A year ago Cincinnati finished -0.46 turnovers per game, but UC has changed that trend dramatically in 2007. Cincinnati leads the nation with a giveaway/takeaway margin of +4.5 per game. Through two games, the Bearcats have yielded one interception and two fumbles, but have created 13 turnovers (5 fumbles, 8 interceptions). They notched four fumble recoveries to go with two interceptions in the against Southeast Missouri State and followed with six interceptions and a fumble recovery in the victory over Oregon State.
ON THIS DATE: Cincinnati is 2-3 all-time when playing on Sept. 15. After winning its first two games played on Sept. 15, the Bearcats have dropped three straight when playing on Sept. 15. The last time Cincinnati played on this date was Sept. 15, 1990, when UC fell 63-10 at Iowa.
SWEAT IN THE WEIGHT ROOM ALREADY PAYING DIVIDENDS: Director of strength and conditioning Paul Longo has already proved himself a welcome addition to the Cincinnati athletics department. Given a mission by Brian Kelly when he came on board in January 2007, Longo has molded the Bearcats into a new team able to handle the rigors of the tempo and pace preached by the head football coach.
RETURNING WITH HOPES OF MORE ALL-BIG EAST AWARDS: The Bearcats return three juniors who received All-BIG EAST recognition a year ago. Named to the first- team defense in 2006, defensive tackle Terrill Byrd is back for his junior campaign. Cornerback Mike Mickens and right guard Trevor Canfield were both all-league second team selections.
IT's ACADEMIC: Cincinnati's football program was honored by the American Football Coaches Association (AFCA) as one of 32 teams in the NCAA Bowl Subdivision to graduate 70 percent or more of their student-athletes. The survey involved the freshman class from the academic year of 2001-02 UC was one of four BIG EAST teams to be honored.
SCOUTING REPORT: Noted for his ingenious offensive schemes, Brian Kelly has to move Cincinnati to a no-huddle offense that emphasizes stretching the field and finding openings to attack via the run or pass. After the 34-3 win over Oregon State, UC is ranked 11th nationally in scoring (46.5 points per game) and 41st in total offense (422.0 yards per game). The Bearcats employ three wide receivers and one back in a variety of formations and personnel groupings.
THE MATCHUP: Cincinnati's offense matches up with a Miami (OH) defense that yielded 577 yards of total offense in last week's triple-overtime loss at Minnesota. After two weeks of play, the RedHawks defense is ranked 75th in scoring (27.0 points per game). The RedHawks return 18 letterwinners back on defense, led by sophomore linebacker Caleb Bostic who has carded 27 tackles this season.
ENJOYING THE RED ZONE: Every team wants to score when it drives inside the opponent's 20 yard line, but Cincinnati has converted nine scores on nine chances inside the opponents' 20 yard line. UC scored on 7-of-7 drives inside the red zone against Southeast Missouri State. The following week, the Bearcats scored on their only two drives inside the Oregon State 20 yard line.
BEARCATS ECLIPSE THE 600-YARD MARK: The Cincinnati offense totaled 615 yards against Southeast Missouri State for the third-highest total in program history. It marked the fifth time in program history and the first time since a 45-38 win over Miami (OH) on Sept. 13, 1986 in which UC amassed more than 600 yards of total offense.
CHALKING UP FIRST DOWNS: Cincinnati's 33 first downs against Southeast Missouri State equaled the second-most first downs in a game by the Bearcats.
MAUK EARNS THIRD STARTING NOD: Ben Mauk showed he deserved to be Cincinnati's starting quarterback by completing 18-of-27 pass attempts for 244 yards and two touchdowns in the first half of the season opener. It marked the third straight season in which Mauk handled his team's first snap from center. In 2005 he started the season opener for Wake Forest vs. Vanderbilt and he started the first game of the 2006 season vs. Syracuse, before suffering a season-ending injury.
MORE THAN JUST AN ARM: On the first play from scrimmage of the 2007 season, Ben Mauk scampered 15 yards. He finished with 14 net yards after losing nine yards on a sack.
PLENTY OF TARGETS: The Bearcats' quarterbacks sighted 10 different receivers in the season opener. Paced by Marshwan Gilyard's eight catches for 134 yards, six different receivers caught two or more passes, while four players made one catch each.
GILYARD LOOKS GOOD IN COMEBACK OF HIS OWN: After sitting out the 2006 campaign because of academic eligibility, wide receiver Marshwan Gilyard made the most of his second chance. In his first game since 2005, the Bearcats' 2006 scout team special teams player of the year totaled eight catches for 134 yards, including a 56-yard touchdown in the 59-3 win over Southeast Missouri State. One week later, Gilyard made one catch for 14 yards and blocked a punt.
RUNNING BACK BY COMMITTEE: The senior triumvirate of Butler Benton, Bradley Glatthaar and Greg Moore, enter their final campaign together after splitting the carries for three years. The group keyed a Cincinnati ground game that totaled 314 yards against Southeast Missouri State. Benton led the Bearcats with 101 yards on 12 carries in the season opener.
BENTON BREAKS OUT: Butler Benton's 101 yards on the ground against Southeast Missouri State marked the second time in his career in which he surpassed the century mark on the ground. His only other 100-yard rushing performance came on Sept. 25, 2004 when he amassed 127 rushing yards on 27 carries at East Carolina.
BENTON LEADING THE GROUND GAME: Butler Benton is pacing the Bearcats' running game with 148 yards on 23 attempts for a 6.4 yards per carry average.
MOORE PROVIDES MORE: The Bearcats' top rusher in 2006 with 709 yards, Greg Moore carried the ball three times for nine yards against Oregon State and made two catches for 63 yards in the 34-3 victory. Moore's 50-yard catch and run up the sideline for touchdown against the Beavers was the longest reception of his career. The senior totaled 28 yards on five carries, but added an additional 47 yards on two pass receptions in the season-opening victory. Moore made a total of 12 catches for 86 yards a year ago.
ALL HE DOES IS SCORE TOUCHDOWNS: Bradley Glatthaar is the most efficient running back in the rotation, totaling three touchdowns on five carries this season. The senior rushed three times for three yards, and collected a pair of touchdowns against Southeast Missouri State. Glatthaar toted the ball twice, including a two-yard score vs. Oregon State.
PIKE PROVES TO BE A BIG CATCH: After two years as a reserve, Tony Pike entered the first game of the season with 7:41 remaining in the third quarter and engineered three consecutive scoring drives. The redshirt sophomore completed 6-of-9 pass attempts for 57 yards, including a seven-yard touchdown. Behind a 35-yard scamper, the Cincinnati native rushed three times for 67 yards.
TIGHT END COMPETITION: A common theme up and down the offensive side, UC has three veterans sharing time at tight end. A converted wide receiver, Earnest Jackson has one catch for four yards on the season. Connor Barwin has five catches for 48 yards, highlighted by three catches for 33 yards in the season opener. Formerly a fullback, senior Doug Jones saw his first action of the year against Oregon State.
GOODIE LEADS INEXPERIENCED GROUP OF RECEIVERS: The top receiver a year ago, Dominick Goodman is back to serve as the leader of a talented, receiving corps. Goodman made one catch for no yards in the first game of the season. The Cincinnati product totaled 40 catches, including five for touchdown in 2006.
BARNETT ENJOYS SUCCESS IN FIRST START: Redshirt freshman Marcus Barnett caught three passes for 16 yards in his first game as a collegian. Nicknamed "Bones", Barnett paced Cincinnati with five receptions for 61 yards in the win over Oregon State.
FAMILIAR FACES IN NEW PLACES: The Bearcats' offense returned four starters who will began the 2007 season at new positions. Tackles Digger Bujnoch and Jeff Linkenbach still bookend the offensive line, but they switched sides over the summer. Tight ends Earnest Jackson and Doug Jones were starters last year at wide receiver and fullback, respectively.
SCOUTING REPORT: Boasting seven returning starters on one of the BIG EAST's top defensive units, the Bearcats are allowing 3.0 points per game, to rank No. 2 in the country in scoring defense. Ranked ninth nationally in pass efficiency defense (76.75 rating), the Bearcats are listed 31st in total defense (286.0 ypg) through the first two games of the 2007 season.
THE MATCHUP: Cincinnati's defense faces a Miami (OH) offense that features running back Brandon Murphy. The RedHawks' leading rusher with 203 yards, Murphy has scored two touchdowns already this season. The RedHawks racked up 577 yards of total offense including 418 passing yards in the loss at Minnesota.
BEARCATS THWART THREATS BY FORCING TURNOVERS: Cincinnati used an interception in the end zone and two fumble recoveries in their own territory to hold Southeast Missouri State to three points the first half of the 59-3 season-opening triumph. The Bearcats forced four fumbles and two interceptions in the victory over Southeast Missouri State and six interceptions against Oregon State.
STOPPING A HEISMAN HOPEFUL: Touted as a Heisman Trophy hopeful prior to the season, Oregon State's Yvenson Bernard found little running room against the Cincinnati defense. UC held the 2006 all-Pac-10 running back to 30 yards on 16 carries and 17 yards on seven receptions to quickly put a halt to the hype.
STIMYING THE BEAVERS' GROUND GAME: One week after Oregon State amassed 241 rushing yards, Cincinnati held the Beavers' ground game to 36 yards on 21 attempts. The 36 yards rushing marked the fewest allowed by the Bearcats since giving up 36 yard against Akron in a 20-14 win over the Zips a year ago.
LIMITING THE PASSING NUMBERS: Cincinnati limited Southeast Missouri State to 87 yards through the air in the season opener. The 87 yards on 12-of-22 pass attempts were the fewest allowed by a UC defense since holding Rhode Island to 58 yards on 2-of-5 pass attempts in a 31-24 victory on Nov. 8, 2003.
BEARCATS RECORD SIX PICKOFFS: The Cincinnati defense collected six interceptions, the second-highest single-game total in UC history during the 34-3 victory over Oregon State. The last time the Bearcats tallied six interceptions in a game came in a 35-13 loss to North Texas State on Nov. 5, 1966
NAKAMURA PACKS A PUNCH: The leader of the secondary, Haruki Nakamura is the team's top tackler with 14 stops (5 solo, 9 assists). Nakamura totaled six tackles and two interceptions in the victory over Oregon State. The senior safety paced Cincinnati with eight tackles (2 solo, 6 assists) and a forced fumble vs. Southeast Missouri State. The Bearcats' active leader with 159 career stops, Nakamura paced the team with 76 tackles during the 2005 campaign.
MICKENS PICKS `EM: Heralded cornerback Mike Mickens started his season with two interceptions and six tackles in the victory over Southeast Missouri State. Mickens' first pick off stopped a drive in the end zone; he stepped in front of a pass and returned the second interception 45 yards for a touchdown. The two-time all-BIG EAST performer has finished each of his first two seasons in the top 10 nationally in passes defended.
BYRD UNCAGED VS. OREGON STATE: Tackle Terrill Byrd totaled three tackles, including one for loss against Oregon State in his first action of the season. The 2004 Gatorade National High School Defensive Player of the Year, Byrd is a returning first-team all-BIG EAST performer.
The Special Teams
SCOUTING REPORT: Special teams have already played a large role this season in the Bearcats' success. Three first-year starters junior punter and holder Kevin Huber, redshirt freshman long snapper Mike Windt and redshirt freshman kicker Jake Rogers are making names for themselves as specialists.
HUBER LEADS THE LEAGUE: Junior Kevin Huber entered the season with seven career punts for a 38.1 average, but has shown to be the best in the BIG EAST in the early going. Huber is averaging 46.9 yards on nine punts this season. Huber leads the BIG EAST in net punting and is listed 20th nationally with his 39.22 yards per punt average.
ROGERS REBOUNDS AFTER SHAKY START: Redshirt freshman Jake Rogers rebounded from his shaky start against Southeast Missouri State to convert field goals of 38 and 55 yards along with four point-after kicks in the 34-3 victory over Oregon State. One week after converting 1-of-3 PAT kicks and missing a 47-yard field goal try in the season opener, Rogers put the Bearcats in front 3-0 in the first quarter with his 38-yard attempt. His 55-yarder in the third quarter was the second-longest field goal in UC football history.
KICKING UP THE KICK RETURN GAME: Dominick Goodman who averaged 25.8 yards per return is back for another year as the deep kickoff return man. DeAngelo Smith, who averaged 20.2 yards on four kickoff returns, is also ready to return kickoffs. An experienced kickoff and punt returner, Mike Daniels is an able reserve. Daniels is seventh on UC's all-time list in kickoff returns (40) and eighth in kickoff return yardage (777).
NEW NAMES IN RETURN GAME: Sophomore Jacob Ramsey has been the Bearcat top returner early this season. Ramsey has returned three kickoffs for 70 yards, a 23.3 yards per return average. Arguably the fastest player on the Bearcats roster, Ramsey was used on kickoff coverage a year ago. Marshwan Gilyard averaged 22.0 yards on eight kickoff returns in 2005, but Gilyard returned his only attempt for seven yards in the season opener.
NAKAMURA PROVIDES STEADY HANDS ON PUNT RETURNS: Not known for owning breakaway speed, Haruki Nakamura has carded four yards on three punt returns. Nakamura made the Bearcats' lone punt return for three yards against Southeast Missouri State. He totaled five punt returns for 2.8 yards per return a year ago.
BLOCK THAT KICK: Cincinnati's Marshwan Gilyard contributed a blocked punt that was recovered in the end zone by Marcus Barnett in the 34-3 win over Oregon State. For the Bearcats, it was the first punt blocked and returned for touchdown since Antwuan Giddens accomplished the feat against Marshall in the 2004 Fort Worth Bowl.