Triumphant in back-to-back contests against Top 25-ranked foes, Cincinnati (8-2 overall, 3-2 BIG EAST) has an opportunity to make it three in-a-row when they host No. 5 West Virginia (8-1, 3-1 BIG EAST).
The Bearcats climbed back among the nation's elite, where they are listed 21st in the AP Poll and 25th in this week's USA Today Coaches Poll. They have an opportunity to continue their ascent up the national rankings and stir up the BIG EAST Conference race against the preseason favorite to win the BIG EAST.
The Bearcats outscored their first 10 foes 366-164. Getting off to a fast start has been a key to the Bearcats' success. They have outscored their opponents 119-36 in the first quarter. Averaging 36.6 points per game, Cincinnati is 18th in the country and second in the BIG EAST in scoring offense behind a West Virginia squad that is scoring 40.4 points per game and is 10th nationally in scoring output.
BEARCATS HOST NO. 5 MOUNTAINEERS:
No. 21/25 Cincinnati hosts No. 5 West Virginia in the its final home of the 2007 campaign. Prior to kickoff, UC will recognize its 19 seniors playing in their last game at Nippert Stadium. Owning a 4-1 record at home this season, Cincinnati is looking for its first win in seven meetings with West Virginia in the Queen City.
VOTERS TAKE NOTICE:
Receiving votes from the national pundits for a record 10 consecutive weeks, Cincinnati finds itself back among the Top 25. After standing outside of the Top 25 for the past three weeks, this week Cincinnati is listed No. 21 in the Associated Press Poll with 305 votes and is 25th in the USA Today Coaches' Poll with 163 markers.
SCOUTING THE MOUNTAINEERS:
West Virginia finds itself listed at No. 5 in the country, for the second time this season, after a 38-31 victory over Louisville on last Thursday night. Winners of four games in-a-row, the Mountaineers are 8-1 overall and 3-1 in the BIG EAST Conference for the first time. Rich Rodriguez, is 58-25 in his seventh season at West Virginia. A perfect 4-0 at home, the Mountaineers' only loss of the year came on the road, at USF.
NOVEMBER IS FOR CONTENDERS:
Cincinnati soared into the national spotlight, on the strength of a 6-0 start, reaching No. 15 in the AP Poll. With Brian Kelly preaching all the while that what happens in November is more important than September's non-conference slate, UC is 2-0 halfway through the final month of the season. In his 18th season as a head coach, Kelly is 47-12 all-time in games played after Nov. 1.
He posted a 38-7 record in November and December at Grand Valley State. Kelly was 6-1 down the stretch last season, including a win at Central Michigan in the MAC Championship Game and the International Bowl victory for Cincinnati.
KELLY BOASTS IMPRESSIVE RECORD WITH BEARCATS:
Dating back to the 2007 International Bowl, Brian Kelly is 9-2 as head coach of the Bearcats. The only first-year coach to start his tenure 7-0 at UC, Kelly surpassed Russ Cohen, who went 7-2 in his first season, for the most wins ever by a first-year coach.
KELLY AMONG THE NATION'S ELITE COACHES:
People in Cincinnati know Brian Kelly is an excellent football coach, but do they know he is one of the winningest active coaches in Division I Bowl Subclassification? Utilizing winning percentage, Kelly is listed 11th among active coaches with a minimum of five full years experience.
UC is third nationally with a giveaway/takeaway margin of +1.6 per game. The Bearcats have yielded nine interceptions and 10 fumbles, but have created 35 turnovers (13 fumble recoveries, 22 interceptions).
WHAT A DIFFERENCE A YEAR MAKES:
With a reputation for defense, Cincinnati has added a potent offensive punch in 2007. The Bearcats have scored 366 points (36.6 per game), a number never attained before in the first 10 games of any season in school history. Cincinnati's propensity for points is 43 points away from surpassing its highest scoring output for a season of 409 points, which was accomplished over 14 games during the 2002 campaign.
TURNING DEFENSE INTO OFFENSE:
Taking advantage of the opponents' miscues, the Bearcats have scored 121 points off of opponents' turnovers.
AGAINST RATED OPPONENTS: Facing a Top 25-rated team at home for the first time this season, Cincinnati owns an 8-60 all-time record against Top 25 opponents. Dating back to the 30-11 victory over No. 7 Rutgers on Nov. 18, 2006, the Bearcats have been victorious in its last four contests against Top 25 competition. UC is unbeaten in three matchups this season against nationally ranked foes.
HOSTING TOP 25 TEAMS:
Hoping to serve as unfriendly hosts for the fifth-rated Mountaineers, the Bearcats are 4-19 all-time against nationally ranked foes in Cincinnati. This week's fray brings the highest rated foe to enter Nippert Stadium since UC lost to No. 1 Miami by a count of 45-13 on Oct. 18, 1986. Cincinnati has won its last two home games against Top 25 teams.
AS A RANKED TEAM:
Listed No. 21 by the AP and 25th in the USA Today Coaches Top 25 Poll, Cincinnati is 3-5-1 all-time as a ranked team.
THERE'S NO PLACE LIKE HOME: Off to a 4-1 start at home in 2007, over the past four seasons, the Bearcats are 21-7 (.750) when playing at Nippert Stadium. They posted a 6-1 mark at home in 2006. Head Coach Brian Kelly boasts an all-time mark of 78-17-1 in home games over his 18 seasons.
ON THIS DATE:
Cincinnati is 2-6 all-time when playing on Nov. 17. UC won its first recorded contest on Nov. 17, 69-0 over Case. Cincinnati is 0-1 when playing against a ranked foe on Nov. 17. In 1973, Cincinnati lost at No. 17 Miami (OH), 6-0. The last time Cincinnati played on this date was Nov. 17, 1990 when UC suffered a 45-7 loss at Alabama.
Noted for his ingenious offensive schemes, Brian Kellyhas moved Cincinnati to a no-huddle offense that emphasizes stretching the field and finding openings to attack via the run or pass. UC is listed 18th nationally in scoring (36.6 points per game) and 31st in total offense (428.5 yards per game). The Bearcats employ three and four wide receivers and one back in a variety of formations.
Cincinnati's offense matches up with a West Virginia defense that gave up 37 rushing yards, but 345 yards through the air in a 38-31 win last week over Louisville. Nine games into the season, the Mountaineers' defense is listed fourth nationally in total defense (275.4 yards per game) and ninth in scoring defense (16.7 points per game). The Mountaineers defense is led by Reed Williams who leads the team with 74 tackles.
PENCHANT FOR POINTS:
Cincinnati has scored 366 points, a number never reached in the first 10 games of any season in school history. No team has matched the 36.6 points per game accomplished thus far by the 2007 Bearcats.
RUNNING THE SPREAD AND SPREADING THE RUN:
Seeing the shotgun formation, fans expect to see the pigskin flying from all angles, but Cincinnati has shown an ability to run the football at a rate of 165.4 yards per game. UC has rushed for more than 200 yards in three contests this season. Cincinnati amassed 314 yards on the ground against Southeast Missouri State, 217 vs. Marshall and 263 at San Diego State.
OFFENSIVE BINGE AND PURGE:
Cincinnati's 31 points in the first 15 minutes at USF are the most UC has scored in any quarter in history. Cincinnati went on to card seven points in the rest of the game of a 38-33 victory at USF. This season's previous high mark for scoring in a quarter was 28 points, which came in the 52-23 win at San Diego State.
BIONIC BEN "NEW AND IMPROVED":
After tossing four touchdowns and 10 interceptions in 18 games, over three seasons, as Wake Forest, graduate-transfer Ben Mauk'sarm has been "new and improved" at Cincinnati. Mauk has completed 21 touchdown passes and has carded six interceptions. Although his touchdown to interception margin was -6 at Wake Forest, Mauk's totals are +15 at UC and he is three touchdowns behind UC's single-season record of +18 set by Gino Guidugli in 2004.
THE BIONIC ARM CONTINUES COMEBACK:
Ben Maukcontinues to live his comeback season at Cincinnati. Twelve months after suffering a catastrophic arm injury, Mauk was the starting quarterback for UC in its first game of the 2007 season. The Kenton, OH product is 16th nationally with a passer rating of 149.25 and has completed 60.9 percent of his pass attempts. The season opener marked the third straight season in which Mauk handled his team's first snap from center. In both 2005 and 2006 he started the season opener for Wake Forest.
55-yard rush on Cincinnati's first play from scrimmage against Pittsburgh was not only his longest rush of the season, but also the longest run of his collegiate career. Counting his opening scamper, Mauk totaled 94 yards on 10 carries at Heinz Field. His previous career-long rush went for 27 yards, on Nov. 27, 2004, in a 13-7 victory for Wake Forest over Maryland.
MAUK SHOWS HIS MOXIE AGAINST CARDINALS:
Quarterback Ben Maukenjoyed another banner day, completing 26-of-45 passes for 324 yards and three touchdowns, in the loss to Louisville. Mauk established new career highs in attempts, completions and yardage in the 28-24 loss. Over his last five outings, Mauk has tossed 13 touchdowns against five interceptions.
ENJOYING THE RED ZONE:
Cincinnati started nearly perfect at scoring when penetrating the opposition's 20 yard line. UC scored on its first 12 drives inside their opponents' red zone before a missed field goal at Miami (OH) stopped the streak. Cincinnati has converted 39-of-44 red zone trips (88.6 percent) into points.
PLENTY OF RECEIVING TARGETS:
The Bearcats' aerial attack spreads the ball to a multitude of receivers and 16 different Bearcats have caught passes this year. Even more generous, the offense has seen 10 different targets catch touchdowns tosses.
GOODMAN LEADS RECEIVERS:
UC's top target a year ago, Dominick Goodman leads the team with 49 catches for 612 yards this season. After finishing with 40 catches as a sophomore, the junior shares ninth in school history in receptions in a season with 49.
GOODMAN SURPASSES 1,000 RECEIVING YARDS AND APPROACHING TOP 10:
Snagging career-highs of 11 catches for 141 yards against Louisville, Dominick Goodman eclipsed the 1,000 receiver yards mark for his career. The owner of 101 career grabs, Goodman is three catches away from reaching UC's career Top 10 list for receptions. He has 1,227 career receiving yards and is tied for sixth in the UC record book with 13 career touchdown catches.
The owner of Cincinnati's longest play of the season, an 80-yard touchdown catch at San Diego State, Marcus Barnett has been a key to the Bearcats receiving corps. After sitting out the 2006 season as a redshirt, Barnett is second on the team in receptions (39) and third in receiving yards (508). His eight touchdown catches not only leads the Bearcats, but they are the most ever tallied by a first-year player at UC.
GIDDENS MAKES THE MOST OF STARTING NOD:
Making his first start since the season opener, Antwuan Giddens made the most of it by coming up with a 63-yard touchdown catch at USF. After making the longest reception of his career, the senior recovered a blocked punt in the end zone for his second score of the day.
TIGHT END COMPETITION:
UC has three veterans vying for time at tight end. A converted wide receiver, Earnest Jacksonhas 12 catches for 138 yards. Connor Barwinhas made 19 receptions for 215 yards. Doug Jonesscored his second rushing touchdown of the year at Pitt and has three receptions for 21 yards to his credit.
JACKSON SURPASSES 1,000-YARD BARRIER:
Formerly a wide receiver, Earnest Jackson used a 32-yard catch at USF to put him over the 1,000 receiving yards mark for his career. The senior has 1,039 yards on 80 career catches.
RUNNING BACK BY COMMITTEE:
The senior triumvirate of Butler Benton, Bradley Glatthaar and Greg Moore, have all eclipsed the 1,000 yard mark for their careers and are splitting the carries for the fourth and final year together.
RAMSEY REWARDED WITH STARTING ROLE:
Sophomore running back Jacob Ramsey garnered the starting nod for each of the last two games and has totaled 109 yards on 38 carries in the first extensive action of his career. Third on the team with 342 rushing yards, Ramsey is averaging 4.1 yards per carry.
BENTON LEADING THE GROUND GAME:
One of three senior running backs, Butler Benton is pacing the Bearcats' ground attack with 434 yards on 89 attempts. Benton's 12 carries for 101 yards vs. Southeast Missouri State marks the Bearcats' lone 100-yard rushing performance of the year.
is the most efficient rusher in the running back rotation, totaling six touchdowns on 40 carries this year. Glatthaar's three-yard run at Rutgers moved him into a tie for seventh in the UC record books with the 19th rushing score of his career.
Boasting seven returning starters on one of the BIG EAST's top defensive units, the Bearcats are allowing 16.4 points per game, to rank No. 8 in the country in scoring defense. Leading the country with 35 takeaways, the `Cats are listed 13th against the run (98.8 ypg), and 44th in total defense (360.0 ypg).
Cincinnati's defense must contend with West Virginia's backfield tandem of Patrick White and Steve Slaton and top receiving threat Darius Reynaud. The nation's No. 2 rushing quarterback, White has totaled 803 yards and 10 on the ground and 1,251 yards and 11 scores through the air. Slaton has amassed 885 rushing yards and 14 touchdowns this season. The Mountaineers are listed third in the country in rushing offense (288.8 ypg) and 10th in scoring offense (40.4 ppg).
Second in the BIG EAST and eighth nationally in scoring defense, the Bearcats have allowed 164 points (16.4 ppg) this season. The last time Cincinnati allowed fewer than 164 points through its 10 nine games of the season was the 1977 campaign. In 1977, UC used three shutouts and gave up 126 points on its way to a 5-3-2 start.
BEARCATS' SACK ATTACK:
Cincinnati is 27th in the nation with 27 sacks this season. A big part of that number has been the play of senior defensive end Anthony Hoke. The team leader with nine sacks, Hoke managed three sacks in the 27-3 victory over Connecticut. The UC defense owns a streak of 21 straight games with at least one sack. The unit carded a season-high five quarterback sacks in the triumph at Miami (OH).
OPPORTUNITIES FALL INTO BEARCATS' HANDS AT RAYMOND JAMES STADIUM:
Cincinnati equaled a school record by forcing eight turnovers in the 38-33 win at USF. UC collected four interceptions and four fumble recoveries and would have added another, but NCAA statistics do not recognize statistics on PAT tries. The other game in which UC forced eight turnovers was a 28-21 victory at Rice on Sept. 21, 1974.
STUFFING THE GROUND GAME:
Cincinnati proved once again it is good against the top rushing offenses in the county by limiting Connecticut to 22 yards rushing on 22 carries in the 27-3 win a week ago. UC held USF to 99 yards on 37 carries for a 2.7 yards per carry average. Yielding 98.8 rushing yards per game, UC has allowed two opponents to surpass the century mark when Southeast Missouri State tallied 175 yards and Pittsburgh rushed for 260.
MICKENS SHOWS HIS METTLE AT USF:
The much-ballyhooed Mike Mickensshowed why he is one of the best cornerbacks in the country on two game-changing plays in the 38-33 win at USF. Mickens picked off a pass and outran the competition 79 yards up the left sideline to give UC a 24-14 lead in the first quarter. Just as memorable was his leaping pass breakup in the end zone with two seconds remaining to preserve the win.
MICKENS IS AROUND THE FOOTBALL:
Two-time all-BIG EAST second-team cornerback Mike Mickensis playing like an all-America choice in 2007. Mickens shares the team lead with five interceptions and has nine for his career with the Bearcats. The three-year starter kicked off his season with two interceptions and six tackles in the victory over Southeast Missouri State. He stepped in front of a Redhawk pass and returned the second interception 45 yards for a touchdown in the season opener. The two-time all-BIG EAST performer has finished each of his first two seasons in the top 10 nationally in passes defended.
UC TOUGH IN THE RED ZONE:
No pushover on defense, Cincinnati has allowed only 71.9 of opponents' drives (23-of-32) inside its own 20 yard line to result in scores. UC has given up 12 touchdowns on 32 drives inside their own Red Zone.
In his first year as a starter, cornerback DeAngelo Smithhas had no trouble learning his role. Smith is tied with teammate Mike Mickens for the BIG EAST lead with five pickoffs. He returned an interception 54 yards for a touchdown at Miami (OH). One ahead of fellow cornerback Mike Mickens for the team lead with 10 passes defended, Smith is listed in a tie for 43rd nationally in the category.
NAKAMURA PACKS A PUNCH:
The leader of the secondary, Haruki Nakamura is tops on the team lead with 67 tackles (40 solo, 37 assists). UC's leading tackler in three games this season, Nakamura paced the squad with six stops against Connecticut. The senior safety finished with 11 tackles, all solos at USF. Nakamura was named BIG EAST Player of the Week after forcing a pair of fumbles and tallying his fourth interception of the year in the win at USF. A starter in 34 consecutive games, he paced Cincinnati with eight tackles (2 solo, 6 assists) and a forced fumble vs. Southeast Missouri State. The Bearcats' active leader with 212 career stops, Nakamura paced the team with 76 tackles during the 2005 campaign.
Second on the squad with 64 tackles, Corey Smith continues to chase down ballcarriers from his outside linebacker spot. A three-year starter for Cincinnati, Smith has registered 30 solo tackles and 34 assists. Second among active Bearcats, the Salem, N.J. native has 188 career stops.
SENIORS BOOKEND DEFENSIVE FRONT:
The duo of senior defensive ends Angelo Craigand Anthony Hokeprovide a steady presence for the Bearcats defensive front. In his first year as a full-time starter, Craig has 30 tackles to his credit. The Cleveland native has 17 tackles for loss and seven sacks in his career. Hoke leads the squad with 12.5 tackles for loss and nine sacks. The Warren, OH product has tallied 18 career sacks.
HOKE APPROACHING CINCINNATI'S TOP SACK MARKS:
A former linebacker, Anthony Hokeis making a case to join some of Cincinnati's all-time best defensive linemen. Second in the BIG EAST Conference with nine sacks on the year, the number lists Hoke tied with Andrew Stewart for second in UC's single-season records. He trails only Antwan Peek's 12.5 sacks in 2001 for the top spot in school history. Hoke's 18 career sacks list him tied for fourth in program history and nine behind Peek's UC record 27 career sacks.
Having to sit out the first game of the season, junior defensive tackle Terrill Byrd has responded with 10.5 tackles for loss and 4.5 quarterback sacks. In his first action of the season, he totaled three tackles, including one for loss against Oregon State. One week later, Byrd tallied two sacks at Miami (OH). He totaled five tackles, including 2.5 for loss in the victory over Marshall. The 2004 Gatorade National High School Defensive Player of the Year, Byrd is a returning first-team all-BIG EAST performer.
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 Windtand redshirt freshman kickers Jake Rogersand Brandon Yinglingare making names for themselves as specialists.
HUBER LEADING THE NATION:
Junior Kevin Huberentered the season with seven career punts for a 38.1 average, but has shown to be one of the best in the country in the early going. Huber is averaging 46.7 yards on 45 punts this season. Huber boomed a career-long 62-yard punt at Miami (OH) and then kicked two 62-yarders in the victory over Marshall. Not only kicking long, Huber has notched 16 punts inside the opposition's 20 and four have been downed on the opposition's 1.
HUBER SETS RECORD DAY:
Behind a pair of 62-yard punts, Kevin Huberestablished a Cincinnati single-game record with a 59.7 yard per punt average on three kicks against Marshall.
ROGERS REBOUNDS AFTER SHAKY START:
Redshirt freshman Jake Rogersrebounded from his shaky start to convert field goals of 38 and 55 yards in the 34-3 victory over Oregon State. One week after converting 1-of-3 PAT kicks and missing a 47-yard field goal, his 55-yarder was the second-longest field goal in UC history. Rogers is currently 8-of-15 on field goals and 38-of-41 on PAT kicks. He had converted 37 consecutive PATs before missing wide left on his second try against Connecticut.
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 last season, 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 Ramseyhas been the Bearcat top returner early this season. Ramsey has returned 16 kickoffs for 351 yards, a 21.9 yards per return average. Ramsey saw limited action on kickoff coverage a year ago. Dominick Goodman has 12 returns for 244 yards (20.3 yards per return) to his credit this season. Marshwan Gilyardaveraged 22.0 yards on eight kickoff returns in 2005 and has three returns for 82 yards (27.3 yards per return) this season.
NAKAMURA PROVIDES STEADY HANDS ON PUNT RETURNS:
Not known for owning breakaway speed, Haruki Nakamura has carded 94 yards on 13 punt returns. Nakamura registered a career-long 24-yard return at Rutgers. He totaled five punt returns for 2.8 yards per return a year ago.
BLOCK THAT KICK, AGAIN!
More noted for his prowess as a walk-on for the basketball team each of the last two seasons, junior tight end Connor Barwincarded Cincinnati's third blocked punt of the year and Antwuan Giddens recovered the bounding ball in the end zone at USF. Barwin's block marked is the third punt block of the year for UC. The Bearcats have scored either a safety or a touchdown on each of its three punt blocks. One week after Marshwan Gilyardblocked a 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. Against Miami (OH), the Bearcats' 2006 scout team special teams player of the year's block went through the end zone for a safety.