Sept. 17, 2007
Receiving votes in both the AP and the USA Today Top 25 polls for the second consecutive week, Cincinnati welcomes Marshall to Nippert Stadium. Boasting a six-game win streak, its longest streak since 1954, the action gets underway at 7:30 p.m.
Cincinnati and Marshall reunite for the first time since the 2004 Fort Worth Bowl, where UC claimed a 32-14 victory. Having met in bowl games in 2000 and 2004, Cincinnati and Marshall have not tangled in a regular season matchup since 1946.
Head coach Brian Kelly looks to become the first Bearcats rookie mentor since Russ Cohen in 1935 to start undefeated in his first five games.
The Bearcats have outscored their first three opponents by a count of 140-16. Ranked No. 2 in scoring defense nationally, Cincinnati leads the country in turnover margin (+4.33 per game). It has forced 17 takeaways (6 fumbles, 11 interceptions).
BEARCATS LOOK TO CONTINUE CLIMB TOWARD TOP 25: After three consecutive wins to start the season, Cincinnati is 3-0 for the first time since the start of the 2003 campaign. One week after retaining the Victory Bell, the Bearcats host Marshall (0-3) on Saturday at 7:30 p.m. on ESPN Regional.
VOTERS CONTINUE TO TAKE NOTICE: Receiving consideration for the first time since the close of the 1997 season, pollsters in both the Associated Press and USA Today rankings gave recognition to the Bearcats in the weekly Top 25 polls. Cincinnati received 20 votes from the coaches' poll and claimed 53 markers in the AP poll.
SCOUTING THE THUNDERING HERD: Facing a treacherous early season schedule that included a trip to Miami (FL) and a home date against No. 4 West Virginia, Marshall travels to Nippert Stadium thirsty for its first win of the season. Head coach Mark Snyder is 9-17 (.346) in his third season as the leader of the Thundering Herd. Last week, the Herd dropped a 48-35 decision to New Hampshire. The loss came one week after an emotional 48-23 setback at home against intra-state rival West Virginia.
CONTINUING THEIR WINNING WAYS: It may be a new season, but the Bearcats continue to ride the momentum created in the second half of the 2006 campaign. Dating back to the 30-11 win over then-No. 7 Rutgers on Nov. 18, 2006, the Bearcats have won six games in-a-row. Going back to the 17-3 victory over Syracuse on
Oct. 28, 2006, the Bearcats have won eight of their last nine contests.
SENIOR EXPERIENCE AGAINST THE HERD: First-year head coach Brian Kelly may be unfamiliar with Marshall, but there are 11 current Bearcats on the roster who played as freshmen in the 2004 CapitalPlains Fort Worth Bowl against Marshall. Butler Benton, Digger Bujnoch, Jon Carpenter, Mike Daniels, Antwuan Giddens, Bradley Glatthaar, Anthony Hoke, Doug Jones, Greg Moore, Haruki Nakamura, and Anthony Williams all saw action in the 32-14 victory over the Herd. Additionally, graduate assistant coach Adam Shorter was Cincinnati's starting center in 2004.
KELLY REMAINS UNBEATEN WITH BEARCATS: Dating back to the 2007 International Bowl, Brian Kelly is 4-0 as head coach of the Bearcats and off to one of the fastest starts in Cincinnati history. Kelly is the first rookie mentor to start 4-0 at UC since Russ Cohen began his first season 7-0 in 1935.
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.
UC vs. TEAMS FROM WEST VIRGINIA: Cincinnati owns an all-time mark of 7-16-2 (.320) against teams from the Mountain State.
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 moved Cincinnati to a no-huddle offense that emphasizes stretching the field and finding openings to attack via the run or pass. After the 47-10 pasting of Miami (OH) in the Battle for the Victory Bell, UC is ranked 10th nationally in scoring (46.7 points per game) and 44th in total offense (427.3 yards per game). The Bearcats employ three wide receivers and one back in a variety of formations and groupings.
THE MATCHUP: Cincinnati's offense matches up with a Marshall defense that yielded 502 yards of total offense in last week's loss to New Hampshire. After three weeks of action, the Thundering Herd defense is ranked 112th in scoring (42.3 points per game) and 118th in rushing defense (278.3 yards per game). The Herd returns 17 letterwinners back on defense, led by junior defensive back C.J. Spillman who has made 37 tackles this season.
ENJOYING THE RED ZONE: Cincinnati has been nearly perfect when penetrating the opposition's 20 yard line. UC scored on it first 12 drives inside the opponents' red zone before a missed field goal at Miami (OH) stopped the streak. Cincinnati has converted 15-of-17 red zone trips (88.2 percent) into points this season.
BEARCATS ARE FORTUNATE ON FOURTH DOWN: Cincinnati converted a pair of fourth down situations at Miami (OH) and improved to 4 for 4 on fourth down conversions this season.
GRUTZA READY FOR HIS START: After seeing no playing time in the first two games, signal caller Dustin Grutza found out he was starting 25 minutes prior to kickoff and finished with one of his finest performances at Miami (OH). No stranger to the starting lineup, Grutza completed 25-of-35 passes for a career-high 290 yards including two for touchdowns against the RedHawks. The start was the first for Grutza since Nov. 25, 2006 at Connecticut.
BARWIN PROVES TO BE A GOOD TARGET: Tight end Connor Barwin was a favorite receiving target at Miami (OH), setting career highs with six receptions for 109 yards in the 47-10 victory. Barwin's previous top performance was five catches including two for touchdowns at West Virginia. The junior is ranked third on the team in receptions, with 11 catches for 156 yards.
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.
RUNNING BACK BY COMMITTEE: The senior triumvirate of Butler Benton, Bradley Glatthaar and Greg Moore, are splitting the carries for their fourth and final year together. The group keyed a ground game that totaled 314 yards in the season opener. Sharing the load was evident in the 47-10 win at Miami (OH), where Glatthaar collected 43 yards, Benton rushed for 42 and Moore gained 41 of UC's 141 rushing yards.
GILYARD MAKING COMEBACK OF HIS OWN: After sitting out the 2006 campaign because of academic eligibility, wide receiver Marshwan Gilyard is making the most of his second chance. Gilyard 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. Gilyard caught two passes for at Miami (OH).
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 rushed beyond the century mark. 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 190 yards on 39 attempts for a 4.9 yards per carry average.
MOORE PROVIDES MORE: The Bearcats' top rusher in 2006 with 709 yards, Greg Moore is a threat as a rusher and receiver. Moore rushed for 41 yards, but scored on a 13-yard reception at Miami (OH). He toted the load 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 opener.
ALL HE DOES IS SCORE TOUCHDOWNS: Bradley Glatthaar is the most efficient running back in the rotation, totaling four touchdowns on 16 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. In his most-extensive work of the year, he totaled 47 yards on 11 carries, including a five-yard score at Miami (OH).
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 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. Mauk started the first game of the 2006 season vs. Syracuse, before suffering a season-ending injury.
PIKE PROVES TO BE A BIG CATCH: After two years as a reserve, Tony Pike engineered three consecutive scoring drives against Southeast Missouri State. Pike completed 6-of-9 pass attempts for 57 yards, including a seven-yard touchdown.
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 four catches for 44 yards. Connor Barwin has 11 catches for 157 yards. Formerly a fullback, senior Doug Jones scored on a five-yard run at Miami (OH).
GOODIE LEADS INEXPERIENCED GROUP OF RECEIVERS: The top receiver a year ago, Dominick Goodman serves as the leader of a talented, receiving corps. Goodman has eight catches for 103 yards this season after finishing with 40 catches, including five for touchdown in 2006.
BARNETT ENJOYS SUCCESS IN FIRST START: Redshirt freshman Marcus Barnett is enjoying a successful rookie season catching a team-leading 13 passes for 113 yards. Nicknamed "Bones", Barnett paced Cincinnati with five receptions for 61 yards and a touchdown 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 5.3 points per game, to rank No. 2 in the country in scoring defense. Topping the national leader board with 17 takeaways, the `Cats are listed fifth nationally in pass efficiency defense (80.79 rating), the Bearcats are 25th in total defense (298.3 ypg) through the first three games of 2007.
THE MATCHUP: Cincinnati's defense faces a Marshall offense that works around quarterback Bernard Morris. The Thundering Herd's signal caller has completed 68 percent of his passes (66-of-97) for 835 yards and five scores with three interceptions. Darius Marshall is an exciting back with a 5.9 yards per carry average this season. Tight end Cody Slate is the primary receiving target for the Herd. Slate already has 19 catches for 272 yards. Darius Passmore 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.
STINGY BEARCATS: Tops in the BIG EAST and second in the country in scoring defense, the Bearcats saw their string of 10 quarters without allowing a touchdown come to an end at Miami (OH). Through three games, Cincinnati has allowed 16 points.
SACK ATTACK ON REDHAWKS QUARTERBACKS: Led by Terrill Byrd's two sacks, Cincinnati carded five quarterback sacks in the triumph at Miami (OH). On the RedHawks' first play from scrimmage, Anthony Hoke hit the quarterback, forced a fumble and recovered it to foreshadow a long afternoon for the Red and White field generals. Cincinnati is tied for 12th in the country with 10 sacks this season. The five quarterback sacks were the most by UC since it notched five on Oct. 29, 2005 in a
22-16 win at Syracuse.
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.
STUFFING THE GROUND GAME: One week after holding Oregon State to 36 yards on 21 carries, Cincinnati limited Miami (OH) to 56 yards on 24 rushing attempts. In the last two games, UC has yielded an average of 46 rushing yards per game. The 36 yards rushing by Oregon State marked the fewest allowed by the Bearcats since they held Akron to 36 yards rushing in a 20-14 win a year ago.
SMITH MAKING A NAME FOR HIMSELF: In his first year starting opposite an All-BIG EAST performer, cornerback DeAngelo Smith has had no trouble making a name for himself. Smith shares the team lead with three pickoffs, highlighted by a 54-yard interception return for touchdown at Miami (OH). Smith is tied for ninth in the country with six passes defended (3 interceptions, 3 pass breakups).
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 17 stops (7 solo, 10 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 162 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. He added his third interception at Miami (OH). 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: Tackle Terrill Byrd totaled three tackles, including one for loss against Oregon State in his first action of the season. Byrd totaled two quarterback sacks to lead the defense at Miami (OH). The 2004 Gatorade National High School Defensive Player of the Year, Byrd is a returning first-team all-BIG EAST performer.
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 3rd nationally with his 47.3 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. Rogers is now 3-of-6 on field goals and 11-of-13 on PAT kicks.
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 and has one return for 19 yards this season.
NAKAMURA PROVIDES STEADY HANDS ON PUNT RETURNS: Not known for owning breakaway speed, Haruki Nakamura has carded 16 yards on four punt returns. Nakamura registered a 12-yard return at Miami (OH). He totaled five punt returns for 2.8 yards per return a year ago.
BLOCK THAT KICK, AGAIN! One week after cincinnati's Marshwan Gilyard contributed a blocked punt against Oregon State, Gilyard repeated the feat at Miami (OH). Against Oregon State, Gilyard's block was recovered in the end zone by Marcus Barnett. 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. Against Miami (OH), the Bearcats' 2006 scout team special teams player of the year's block went through the end zone for a safety.