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Cincinnati at Oregon State

Game Analysis and Prediction

9/19/09

Is it possible that Brian Kelly and the University of Cincinnati Bearcats are upset about not making the preseason Top 25? Iíd say so based off their 70-3 blowout win over Southeast Missouri State last week. Before that win they delivered a crushing 45-15 blow to conference foe Rutgers on the road. Many thought this team would go quietly after losing in the Orange Bowl, but they have made one thing clear; the #17 Cincinnati Bearcats are here to stay. They will travel to play the Oregon State Beavers this week for their toughest game yet. Currently, most sportsbooks have the game pick em.

The #24 Beavers of Oregon State narrowly escaped a fourth quarter collapse against UNLV on the road last week. The Beavers were plagued by penalties but were still able to win thanks to a balanced offensive attack and a stingy defense that came up with two turnovers. QB Sean Canfield was 25/31 for 198 yards and 2 TDs. Jacquizz Rodgers anchored a powerful running game while picking up 166 yards and a TD. His longest run of the game was 47 yards. His older brother is WR James Rodgers, and he caught 10 passes for 60 yards. Kicker Justin Kahut missed a PAT, but made up for it with a game winning FG from 33 yards out.

The defense was somewhat worrisome for Oregon State. While they picked up two turnovers, they also allowed two fourth quarter TDs when it appeared the game was over. The secondary was shaky and it is susceptible to giving up big plays, and the line can have trouble pressuring opposing QBs. This could kill their chances to take down the pass happy Bearcats who feature one of the top QB-WR combos in the country with Tony Pike and Mardy Gilyard. The Rodgers brothers are clearly the strength of this team and they provide most of the punch of the Beavers powerful offensive attack. Although the Cincinnati defense has been strong thus far, Oregon State is clearly the best challenge they will have faced in this young season.

The Cincinnati Bearcats posted their third highest point total in school history last week. WR Mardy Gilyard found the end zone 4 times and in unique ways. He returned a punt for a TD, caught a TD pass from two different QBs, and rushed for a TD out of the Wildcat formation. If the Beavers want to win this game they will have to do their best to shut down Gilyard. I donít know if that will be possible for them, but perhaps they can slow him down. Tony Pike has been near flawless this year, throwing a combined 591 yards and 6 TDs while earning a passer rating of 195.51 in the first two games of the year. The defense entered the year with tons of question marks, but has been very strong so far giving up just 18 points in two games.

Problems for the Bearcats could arise if the potent Beavers offense gets off to a good start against their inexperienced defense. Oregon State employs a balanced attack. They are able to run and pass for big yardage. Cincinnati has proved they can win on the road, but Oregon State was able to down the USC Trojans last year so it will help the Beavers if the fans are able to get in the game early and make the environment as hostile as possible. Cincinnati has proved to be very resilient, but this will be their toughest game of the year.

Oregon State played at Cinci in 2007. They turned the ball over 7 times and lost 34-3 despite outgaining the Bearcats by almost 100 yards. Hard to gauge teams early in the season as far as returning starters and the impact of players lost. Cinci returns just about their entire offense yet lost everyone on the defensive side of the ball while Oregon State is in pretty much the same boat, returning 7 on offense and 3 on defense.

So a game like this comes down to being able to access the talent of both schools as a whole. The last three years, both of these squads have won their share of games, with Cinci winning 8, 10 and then 11 starting in 2006 to the present. Oregon State won 10, 9 and 9 in that span. Safe to say both of these schools have some talent and can win games. But what we're going to hang our hat on in this one is the fact that Oregon State has beaten USC twice in the past 3 years. That's impressive. If you take a look at the Cincinnati dance card over this same time span, there's really no signature wins of that magnitude. Winning Big East games is a tad different than winning PAC 10 games, not to mention that the Beavers also came within a field goal of Utah last year, another team with a claim to #1, and that was the game immediately following USC.

Throw in a little revenge for 2007 and we'll gladly take Oregon State. With the line pick to -1 all we're asking is for the Beavers to win a home game.
 

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