All Bearcats fans, including students, can remember Homecoming 2007 against Louisville last year. They can remember all the excitement following a win at Rutgers and a national ranking, the first for the Bearcats since 1950, along with a sold-out Nippert Stadium.
All the excitement and joy turned to anger and hurt following a 28-24 loss to their bitter rivals.
Fast forward to 2008. Cincinnati has already lost to now No. 1 Oklahoma, but the Bearcats have put together three wins, two on the road, with the last a convincing win that has the buzz back in Cincinnati.
Now that the buzz is back, the Bearcats have the chance for a tasty showdown against Connecticut, but what lies in front of the Bearcats is a tough road with lots of bumps ahead of them, so they need to get off to a good start.
First off is Rutgers and a chance for a letdown after a good win against a good Marshall team. In the last two meetings the Bearcats have beaten Rutgers. The Scarlet Knights have been struggling in 2008 but are coming off a good showing at West Virginia.
For the Bearcats, they need to focus on what is in front of them and avoid all the distractions that come with homecoming.
Questions coming into this game include whether Brian Kelly opens up the playbook more for Chazz Anderson. Anderson was held under a limited playbook against Marshall and showed the possibility for a more dynamic offense.
Second, was the experiment with freshman Isaiah Pead the start of something Kelly has been saving for Big East opponents? Pead showed off his speed and power late in the game against Marshall, but a fumble after 11 straight carries may have derailed his progression.
Finally, has the Bearcats defense of old finally recovered from the beating it suffered against Oklahoma? The Bearcats defense intercepted three passes and applied constant pressure to the Marshall quarterback.
The next two games are pivotal for the Bearcats to make a statement to the Big East that they are a contender.