After October's second bye week, the Cincinnati Bearcats are well-rested and ready for a five-game stretch that will determine the fate of their season. Three of those five games will be on the road against some of the better teams in the conference. The first of those five road games will be against Pittsburgh, currently in the middle of the Big East standings. Here is a preview of what to expect from Pittsburgh on Saturday:
The Pittsburgh offense was centered around star running back Ray Graham who is one of the top running backs in the country. He was second in the country in rushing yards before a serious knee injury against Connecticut last week that sidelined him for the season.
Senior Zach Brown will be filling in for Ray Graham, and while he is nowhere close to Graham, he does have experience and over 250 carries in his career.
Quarterback Tino Sunseri has been up and down all season. He has thrown seven interceptions to go along with his seven touchdowns.
When Sunseri does throw the ball, his biggest target is 6'5" receiver Mike Shanahan. Shanahan has three touchdowns on the year with 330 yards. Devin Street leads the team with 353 yards receiving and two touchdowns.
The Panthers' defense ranks 44th in the country, allowing 23.5 points per game. They lost a lot on defense from a year ago and have had their fair share of ups and downs.
Linebacker Max Gruder is the Panthers' defensive leader. He currently leads the team in tackles with 71 and also has five tackles for loss.
The defense has only forced seven turnovers all season in eight games. If they plan on staying with Cincinnati, they will need to force at least two turnovers to make up for the offensive explosiveness of Cincinnati.
The key for the Panthers defense will be getting pressure on Cincinnati quarterback Zach Collaros to force him into some tough decisions.
Pittsburgh is at home, where they are 4-2 and have played much better than they have on the road. Cincinnati is 2-1 on the road and currently positioned to make a run at a Big East title.
This game will be close for a while and if Cincinnati can win the turnover battle, they should have no trouble knocking off Pittsburgh and moving to 3-0 in Big East play.
This one will be close for a while, but in the end, the Bearcats will have too much.
Cincinnati 31, Pittsburgh 24