|No. 13 Cincinnati seeks record 11th win|
|Written by Admin|
|Friday, 05 December 2008 07:05|
Then-Bearcats athletic director Bob Goin denounced Hawaii officials, even accusing their mascot of roughing up Cincinnati's mascot.
A lot has changed since then, including the players, coaches and athletic directors at both schools. The biggest difference is how much the two unheralded programs have improved in the past couple years.
No. 13 and Big East champion Cincinnati (10-2) is seeking a school-record 11th victory of the season on Saturday night against Hawaii (7-5), which had a breakout season last year when it went 12-0 before being routed by Georgia in the Sugar Bowl.
BCS bid last year, that they've moved forward in their program.
``We're not going to have any of those antics. But having said that, it's nice to have the Big East (officiating) crew,'' he said.
Both schools have secured postseason bids with the Bearcats to make their first BCS appearance in school history in the Sugar Bowl or Orange Bowl. The Warriors will play in their hometown Hawaii Bowl for the fifth time since 2002.
The teams say there's still a lot on the line.
Besides 11 wins, Kelly said there's also an opportunity to break into the top 10 for the first time. The Bearcats have already matched their highest ranking, previously reached in 1954.
``So, clearly there are a lot of things out there for our football team, and we're going to make sure they attain those goals,'' said Kelly, who earlier this week ended speculation that he's leaving the Bearcats for another program.
What's at stake for Hawaii?
``This is our BCS game,'' coach Greg McMackin said. ``We want to redeem ourselves against a good team.''
Hawaii linebacker Adam Leonard said his team plays to win, regardless of the postseason picture.
``By no means is anybody on this team at ease with where we're at,'' he said. ``We want to be one of the top teams in the nation and we've got to beat teams like this.''
n sacks this year and held Syracuse to 59 yards passing in last week's 30-10 victory that clinched the conference title.
The Bearcats will be without cornerback Mike Mickens for a third straight game because of a knee injury and linebacker Lamonte Nelms' status is uncertain because of his arrest Sunday following an altercation with workers at a Cincinnati restaurant-bar.
Kelly said Nelms, who pleaded not guilty to charges of criminal trespassing and resisting arrest, would accompany the team to Hawaii, but wasn't sure if he would play.
Hawaii for the second straight week could be without Kealoha Pilares, who leads the team with seven TDs, and top defensive back Ryan Mouton because of injuries. McMackin said their status will be a game-time decision.
Both teams have scrambled at quarterback because of injuries and other issues with Cincinnati has used five QBs and Hawaii playing four. But the teams eventually found their leaders in Cincinnati's Tony Pike and Hawaii's Greg Alexander, who are gaining confidence and looking sharper with every start.
Pike, who wears a soft cast to protect his left (non-throwing) arm he broke in the fourth game, leads the Big East and is 19th in the nation in passing efficiency. He has completed 63 percent of passes for 1,788 yards and 15 TDs.
His favorite targets are Dominick Goodman and Mardy Gilyard, who had 11 catches for 114 yards last week.
Alexander, also known as Colt Brennan's successor, is coming off a career-best 315-yard performance against Washington State. He has thrown for 867 yards and seven scores with one interception in the last three games. He has also rushed for 89 yards and two TDs during that span.
The junior-college transfer started the season opener at Florida, but was quickly benched after throwing a couple picks.
``It was just a matter of getting to know the offense and getting the timing and reps with these guys,'' Alexander said.