A unit that returned one starter from last season has been exceeding expectations, but now it must face the nation's leading rusher as the 14th-ranked Bearcats host Ryan Mathews and Fresno State.
Oddsmakers from online sports book Sportsbook.com have made
Known more for an offense which ranks sixth nationally with 516.7 yards per game,
The Bearcats have given up an average of 12.0 points - they have yet to allow a team to score 20 - while surrendering 271.0 yards per game. They've totaled 11 sacks, forced eight turnovers and held opponents to 2.1 yards per carry.
That's seven yards less than what Mathews has been gaining per attempt, coming off a game in which he had three touchdowns of at least 60 yards. He leads the country with 447 rushing yards, including 234 last Friday in a 51-34 loss to then-No. 10
"He is unbelievable,"
Colburn has thrown for 637 yards and six touchdowns for an offense which has yet to be held under 31 points, so the Bulldogs (1-2) present the Cincinnati defense with its toughest test to date despite entering with a sub-.500 record.
"We will be challenged against
"Yes, they've lost two games, but if you look at it, they were on the road against
The biggest challenge of the season for Kelly's defense was probably last Saturday in a visit to
Cincinnati limited the Beavers to 104 yards on 36 carries and had a season-high five sacks, becoming the first team in nearly two years to hold them under 20 points in Corvallis, Ore.
Pike ranks 13th nationally in passer rating, completing 70.8 percent of his passes for 923 yards and eight touchdowns with two interceptions. Gilyard has caught at least one TD pass in all three games, totaling 23 receptions for 265 yards, and has a punt return for a touchdown.
"We're only going to get better," Gilyard said. "I'm glad we have had these tough games early, so we could get it rolling."
"We have a tough road ahead of us but we will get better," coach Pat Hill said. "I still think we have a chance to have a very, very good football team this season."
However, Hill's squad has lost all 10 of its games against Top 25 opponents over the last four-plus seasons.
Posted: 9/22/09 6:11PM ET