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2010 Big East Prospectus Part 1: Cincinnati

Editor’s Note: This is part one of an eight part series giving analysis of each of the eight teams in the Big East Football Conference, proceeding alphabetically, but ending with Syracuse. Two new teams will be released each weekday for the next four days, leading up to the start of the Syracuse Football season. Feel free to use the comment section to supplement the facts and analysis presented, however the opinions will stand. Enjoy and I hope you are looking forward to the new Big East football season as much as I am.
Preview – “Kelly knew when to get out.” The Idiots on Sports are using this tagline at the core of their thoughts on Cincinnati. And they could very well be right. Cincinnati by all accounts is on a downswing after a few very good years at the top echelon of the Big East heap. Newly minted coach Butch Jones comes in from Central Michigan after three pretty good years. But with some major players for the program leaving or graduating recently can Butch really sustain the winning ways of the program and bring another league championship to Cincy? They still have QB Zach Collaros (93/124, 1434yds, 10 TD, 2 INT, sacked 2 times) who stepped in quite nicely when Tony Pike went down to an injury. And despite losing probably the best wideout in the nation in Mardy Gilyard, they still have a playmaker in Armon Binns (61rec, 888yds, 14.6avg, 11 TD). They also have a sold RB in returning starter Isaiah Pead (121car, 806yds, 6.7avg, 9 TD). The offense will be fine. The defense has far more questions as they switch from a 3-4 to a 4-3. They also lose some of their best playmakers from last season. If Cincinnati loses games, chances are it will be either because the defense was not up to the task, or a couple of key offensive injuries occurred.

Key Returning Players – QB Zach Collaros, WR Armon Binns, LB JK Schaffer

Key Losses – WR Mardy Gilyard, QB Tony Pike, DE Curtis Young

My Thoughts – Cincinnati is a team that should finish no worse than the middle of the Big East this season, but they do have the potential to shock some opponents that look better on paper. I’ve seen several polls that have them on top to sixth so it seems there are a lot of differing opinions on this squad. The offense should be top notch again, but the defense will not be nearly as good as they were last season and will allow some big plays and sustained drives. Depth is a huge issue on this team as a whole as well, and if injuries happen to a major position like QB again this season, they will not find as capable a player to step in as they did last season. The winning is over for Cincinnati. They will be good and will certainly make a bowl game, but they will not be in a BCS game again this year.

Will We Beat Them? – Syracuse was lit up last year on Halloween by this team in the Carrier Dome. While they will not be so easy to defeat this year, Cincinnati will probably have another league win over the Orange in Ohio. Syracuse’s defense should give Collaros some fits, and Syracuse will probably find success on the offensive side of the ball. But right now you still have to give the advantage to Cincinnati in a too close for comfort game for the Bearcats.

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