Primetime College Football: Bearcats vs Bulldogs
This game goes down on the ESPN2 network and it features the University of Cincinnati Bearcats taking on the Fresno State Bulldogs at Bulldog Stadium.
Under the direction of coach Pat Hill, who incidentally took a pay cut during recent negotiations on his contract, the Bulldogs are a perfect 6-0 when opening a season at home and have won five straight season openers overall. Last season the Bulldogs finished 8-5 and 6-2 in WAC but lost, 35-28, to Wyoming in the New Mexico Bowl.
The Bulldogs will have to answer the question on how will the offense replace running back Ryan Mathews, the NCAA’s leading rusher? Early indications is that Fresno State will run a running back by committee till someone separates themselves from the rest of the pact. The Bulldogs can hang their hat on the fact that they return senior quarterback Ryan Colburn, 2,459 yards 19 touchdowns 11 INTS, but if things get shaky for Colburn coach Hill could turn to Derek Carr, the younger brother of former Fresno State standout David Carr.
Fresno State defense brings back five of it’s top tacklers from last season which includes linebacker Ben Jacobs, who is just two tackles short from 300 for his career. Jacobs led the defense with 106 tackles, 8 tackles for loss, 3 fumble recoveries, 3 forced fumbles and 3 blocked kicks. Defensive end Chris Carter was responsible for 5 sacks on a defense that was 119th in the nation in that category.
Cincinnati ushers in a new ear with new head coach Butch Jones, who came from Brian Kelly’s old school Central Michigan after he left for Notre Dame. The Bearcats keep the new era going at quarterback Zach Collaros, 1,434 yards 10 touchdowns 2 INTS, who takes over full time duty after Tony Pike went onto the NFL. The Bearcats went 12-0 and where the Big East Champions but where demolished by Florida, 51-24, in the Sugar Bowl. Playing a big role in Collaros success was wideout Armon Binns who collected 61 catches for 1,191 yards and 11 touchdowns as he started every game. Running back Isaiah Pead lead the conference with 6.7 ypg and it acumalted into 9 touchdowns.
While the Cincinnati offense brings back as many as 11 starters, the defense is barely half as experienced with just 6 players who has started at least one game. Their pass defense watched as opponents threw for 230.2 ypg, ranking them 78th nationally. Some of that could have been because those opponents were constantly trying to play catch-up and had no choice but to put the ball in the air. However they also allowed 143.8 ypg on the ground.
The Bearcats won the first and only meeting between these two teams just last year, coming up with a 28-20 victory at home.
PICK: Fresno State Bulldogs