Another lesser opponent, another opportunity for the Bearcats to show that the 2011 season wasn’t a fluke and this year’s team is just as dominant on both sides of the football as ever. They should win and it should be over before those eligible at Nippert grab their first beer. Still Cincinnati can’t sleep on Fordham like they did Delaware State three weeks ago when they won by just 16. This is a much more talented squad with a dangerous offense that the Hornets.
The silver lining is that since the Bearcats played extremely sloppy against their last FCS team the coaches surely drilled it into their players’ heads that they can’t take the night off no matter the opponent. Look for a much more focused squad on Saturday night who hopefully take the Fordham Rams to the woodshed.
As always, the five keys for the Bearcats to accomplish that goal this week after the jump.
1) Score Early, Score Often
Last week against Miami (OH) was arguably Cincinnati’s most complete game of the season and the Bearcats really only played three solid quarters out of four. Ideally I’d like Munchie to lead them down the field and score a touchdown on their opening drive, setting the tone for the game. Or if the defense is out for the first series to stuff Fordham for a three-and-out on their opening drive. This could really be the game that jump that gets this team clicking on all cylinders as opposed to just a few as we’ve seen this season. The Bearcats should set the tone early that they are the dominant team and future opponents will have to take notice of them.
2) Give Them Something To Catch
I love Munchie Legaux’s ability to control this team and give Cincinnati a spark on offense but he missed two wide open touchdowns against the Redhawks on Saturday that pretty much summed up his entire season thus far; solid numbers but made a couple of mistakes to draw the ire of his critics. The first was overthrowing a streaking Alex Chisum who had nothing but turf and an endzone in front of him and the second was another overthrow to Travis Kelce who was standing in the endzone. Legaux can gun it to his receivers with the best of them but he needs to stay relaxed in the pocket and just play pitch-and-catch with his playmakers. That should be Munchie’s next step in his development as a quarterback.
3) Wake Up, Walt!
This is a made-for-Statestify topic but Walter Stewart has been a ghost in non-conference play. Since a 9 tackle, 3.5 TFLs, and two sack performance against Pitt on opening night, Walt has tacked on just 9 tackles, 2.5 TFLs, and one sack in the last three games combined. It’s rather insane just how different his stats are when playing Big East teams vs. non-Big East teams. But like the rest of the ‘Cats, this game will be an ample opportunity for Walt to build some momentum going into conference play especially considering Fordham gives up over 2.5 sacks per game. That puts the Rams 89th nationally among FCS schools. Yikes!
4) Complete Game On The Backend
This is a pretty solid passing attack the Bearcats are facing on Saturday night. The Rams boast the best passing offense and scoring offense in the Patriot League. It’s no wonder considering quarterback Ryan Higgins has been having a pretty solid senior campaign. He is averaging 245 yards through the air per game but most importantly over 12 yards per pass. As a result I want to see a better, more complete performance out of the secondary. They have been pretty good this year, intercepting quite a few passes and in general disrupting opposing receivers. But they have had the tendency to display the occasional lapse in judgement. Don’t get me wrong, this is an extremely talented group of defensive backs. I just want to see a totally dominating game out of them.
5) More Fresh Faces
In all likelihood Cincinnati’s game with Fordham will be the final opportunity to give a good majority of second and third-string players valuable reps. It will be the final ‘tryout’ for some of the younger players to prove that they have what it takes to step up and lead the team after this season. So coming full circle, in tandem with the Bearcats pouring it on the Rams on Saturday night, I want to see the starters benched as early as possible. In doing so we can see more of Brendan Kay (hopefully passing the ball) as well as Tion Green, Deionte Buckley, and a slew of new players in UC’s secondary.
Big East Games – 2012 Record: 23 – 8 (74.2%) – I can’t believe I picked the Temple-USF game correctly.
Pittsburgh vs. Louisville: I hope like heck the more talented, better coached Cardinals take care of business on the road in Heinz Field on Saturday. But this smells of trap game considering Pitt is hosting the game and on homecoming weekend. Plus the Cardinals have lost some momentum of late and might just sleep walk onto the field. UL should beat the Panthers and I’m going to lock in that prediction. Louisville 27, Pittsburgh 17
Rutgers vs. Syracuse: The Orange scored just 7 points on offense last Thursday. Those 7 points came way of touchdown on their opening drive. After that, nothing but punts and turnovers from Syracuse’s offense. This week they face a Scarlet Knights team with the best defense in the conference and an offense with enough balance and firepower to win a ton of games in 2012. Jersey takes another Big East team to the woodshed. Rutgers 34, Syracuse 16
UConn vs. Temple: This game could very well end in a 0 – 0 tie. The Huskies are again a complete mess on offense in spite of boasting a very solid defense. Temple showed what kind of a dangerous ground attack when they gashed South Florida for 216 yards on the ground in their win last Saturday. But they fact a much better defense this week in the Huskies. Really, both teams have questions on offense but I think the Huskies win in a snoozer befitting of the Big Ten. UConn 13, Temple 9