For those jumping on or still riding the UC football bandwagon, today is a big day for the Bearcats. I reference Lonnie's blog:
Eager for Beavers
Much like the Bengals’ opener Monday night against the Ravens will do for them, tonight’s game at Nippert Stadium is going to set our expectations for the UC season -- and for the first phase of Brian Kelly’s coaching tenure.
The Bearcats were not tested last week by Southeast Missouri State. That alone is a significant statement, because there was a time, in the not distant past, when any team, regardless of classification, would have given UC all it wanted. (Army, Akron, Eastern Michigan, Western Carolina . . . )
But Oregon State is a different band of beavers. This is the team that last year ended Southern Cal’s winning streak. It’s a Pac 10 contender with most of its players back.
There was also a time, in the not distant past, when the anticipation for this game would have been minimal, matching the expectations. But the Bearcats played terrific defense for most of last year, finished strong, and have had their profile raised by their new head coach. The buzz has reached a conspicuously high number of Cincinnati ears.
All of it might be a bit unfair to UC, because Kelly’s offense hasn’t had a chance to ripen. Aside from transfer quarterback Ben Mauk, Kelly will be throwing the ball around with Mark Dantonio’s recruits. Dantonio wasn’t trolling for game-breakers. He was looking for Champ Henson.
But if, nevertheless, the Bearcats can manage to do to Oregon State what they did last year to Rutgers, then their entire season takes on a different look. They’ll be 2-0 and rolling into games in which they’ll be favored against Miami, Marshall and San Diego State. Then comes Rutgers.
If, on the other hand, they can’t match up with the Beavers, those games become 50-50s. The whole schedule becomes a reach. The postseason starts skipping away. Kelly loses a little luster.
Tonight will be very interesting.
I say UC 24, OSU 17