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Cincinnati vs. Fresno State

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The Cincinnati Bearcats and Fresno State Bulldogs enter the 2010 college football season depleted, or at least that is the impression of the general public. The Bearcats are without hotshot QB Tony Pike, now a member of the Carolina Panthers, and all time leading WR Mardy Gilyard, who is now with the St. Louis Rams. The Bulldogs will be absent RB Ryan Matthews who was selected in the first round on the NFL Draft after rushing for 1,808 yards and 18 TDs in 2009. This Game will be a grudge match as Cincinnati defeated Fresno State 28-20 at Nippert Stadium. This year’s Game will be at Fresno State. The Bearcats will be playing for new coach Butch Jones for the first time in this Game. Let’s take a look at each team.

QB Zach Collaros will take over after starting several Games last year while Tony Pike was injured. Collares passed for a whopping 1,434 yards and 10 TDs while attempting only 124 passes. He added 344 more yards on the ground averaging 6.0 ypc. Collaros is a speedy runner capable of not only passing, but rocketing up the field for a first down. He had many weapons at his disposable, the best of which is WR Armon Binn who had 888 yards and 11 TDs last year. His longest reception was 81 yards. USC transfer Vidal Hazelton will be formidable. The senior stands 6-3 tall and can go up and get passes. TE Ben Guidugli is one of the best in the country at his position. If the pass attack stalls then RB Isaiah Pead is quite capable of getting yards on the ground. The junior broke all of two time Heisman winner Archie Griffin’s records (they attended the same high school). Last year he had 806 yards on 6.7 ypc.

While the offense in Cincinnati is high flying and multifaceted, the defense is suspect. With just 5 starters coming back its tough to determine how good or bad they will perform as a unit. The defensive backs will be tougher with Dominuqe Battle and Drew Frey back as starters. LB JK SChaffer had 3 INTs and 100 tackles last year. If Fresno State can exploit Cincinnati’s inexperieNCed defense and stall their explosive offense they will have a great chance of coming out the victors of this Game, but are they capable of doing that?

Fresno State returns 8 starters on offense from a team that was 8-5 last year. The offensive line is among the best in the entire nation. That means two things for this Game. First, they will probably push around the Bearcats defensive line. Two, the inexperieNCed running Game will appear much better as a result. RB Robert Rouse takes over for Matthews. Rouse is a compact runner at 5-7 and we know little about his ability. He had 479 yards last year. QB Ryan Colburn is a senior who passed for 1,808 yards and 19 TDs a year ago.

The defense for Fresno State boasts 7 returning starters iNCluding leading tackler MLB Ben Jacobs who had 106 tackles and 8 tackles for a loss last year. The defensive line for the Bulldogs will be vastly improved behind the strength of NT Cornell Banks. If the Fresno State defense can get to Zach Collaros and keep the Bearcats from moving the ball their chances of winning will go up.

The Cincinnati Bearcats offense was able to move the ball at will last year. They led Fresno State by double digits on three separate occasions during last year’s Game. Is Fresno State going to be able to win this year despite the loss of offensive powerhouse Ryan Matthews?

Pat Hill and Fresno State shine in these situations. Pat Hill has been known as a “Giant Killer” throughout his career at Fresno. There are numerous examples of this over the years. It’s a “we’ll play anyone anywhere attitude” and it seems as though the higher the profile of the opponent, the better Fresno State plays. Fresno State has more horses left from a year ago than Cinci. The Bearcats may not be what they were, but this is the first Game of the season, and until proven otherwise, this Cincinnati team is still a team that went 12-1  last season.

Revenge is too sweet to pass up here. The price is right. Fresno State pk

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