2011 Predictions & Game Story
Week 1 - Austin Peay & Cincinnati
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Sept. 3 at Cincinnati 72 … Austin Peay 10
CFN Analysis: It was only against Austin Peay, but after a rough year offensively last season the Bearcats needed a cathartic moment, and they got it with 387 rushing yards and six scores, spread around among 13 players, and with Zach Collaros completing 12-of-19 passes for 134 yards and four scores, everything clicked. The defense gave up some yards, but it also forced five turnovers on the way to a blowout. No, this doesn’t mean everything is back to 2009 form, but for Butch Jones, it was a statement game to kick off the season before going to Tennessee.
CINCINNATI -- Isaiah Pead ran for Cincinnati's first two touchdowns Saturday night, and Zach Collaros threw for the next four -- all in the first half -- leading the Bearcats to a 72-10 victory over Austin Peay.
The Bearcats dominated an Ohio Valley Conference team that has only eight seniors, scoring the third-most points in their history.
Cincinnati scored on six of its seven first-half possessions against a defense that features one senior starter. Pead ran 40 yards for a touchdown on the Bearcats' first play. He also scored on a 13-yard run and finished with 87 yards.
Collaros, the Big East's top returning passer, played only the first half and was 12 of 19 for 134 yards. His 34-yard pass to D.J. Woods completed a 95-yard drive in the second quarter. Collaros also threw a pair of touchdown passes to Anthony McClung in the last 39 seconds of the first half for a 41-0 lead.
Austin Peay is coming off a 2-9 season and has dropped its last nine games overall.
Cincinnati is coming off a 4-8 season that took much of the buzz out of the football program. After Brian Kelly left for Notre Dame, the Bearcats went back to losing games in front of small home crowds.
Their opener in coach Butch Jones' second season was much better, though played in front of a crowd of 23,282. Last year, they went to Fresno State and got beat 28-14 in 94-degree heat, wearing down as the game went along. No such problems on Saturday in 93-degree weather against an overmatched opponent.
Austin Peay has only 18 winning seasons in its 74 years of football. This one started badly.
Cincinnati won the coin toss, and freshman Ralph David Abernathy IV returned the kickoff 60 yards. On the Bearcats' first play, Collaros handed off to Pead and threw a downfield block on safety Amius Smith, opening the way for the Big East's top returning runner to go 40 yards untouched.
The Bearcats had a 14-play, 95-yard drive in the second quarter that left the Governors' defense running on fumes. Collaros threw a 34-yard pass to D.J. Woods, who ran past cornerback Sheldon Wade to make the catch for a 27-0 lead.
The half also ended badly for Austin Peay.
Collaros threw a 39-yard touchdown pass to McClung with 39 seconds left, and Cincinnati recovered a fumble on the kickoff. Austin Peay dropped seven defenders into pass coverage, but Collaros found McClung wide open in the middle of the field for a 29-yard touchdown that made it 41-0.
Cincinnati went with its reserves in the second half.
Austin Peay's Jake Ryan was 16 of 23 for 150 yards with two sacks, a fumble and two interceptions that went off his receivers' hands.
Austin Peay (0-0) at Cincinnati (0-0) Sept. 3, 7:00 ET
Here’s The Deal … Despite entering only his second season as the head coach of Cincinnati, the 2011 season may be a break or bust year for Butch Jones. After coming off the a disappointing 2010 season where the defending Big East champion Bearcats finished with a 4-8 record, the pressure is on for Jones and his staff to produce in the upcoming season. With a strong stable of star players, led by unanimous preseason All-Big East and defending Big East First Team QB Zach Collaros, the 2011 Bearcats have the talent to contend for the Big East championship. However, it all has to start somewhere. Cincinnati has not lost to an FCS school since 1999, and will look to continue that record against the Austin Peay. The Governors lost to Wisconsin in its previous attempt against an FBS school last season by a score of 70-3, one of the largest blowouts of the 2010 college football season.
Why Cincinnati Might Win: The Bearcats are returning 10 defensive starters, the best in the Big East in that category. While defense wasn’t exactly the bright spot of Cincinnati’s 2010 campaign, experience will prove to be the major factor in giving the Bearcats an easy victory. Leadership from LB JK Schaffer and DT Derek Wolfe should provide the D with a strong anchor throughout the season. However, despite all of the experience, most experts are clamoring over the offensive playmakers the Bearcats return. Spearheaded by Collaros, who led the Big East in passing yards and touchdowns in 2010, and his favorite target D.J. Woods, it’s no wonder why there is so much optimism coming out of the Queen City. Simply from a talent standpoint, Cincinnati should roll in this one.
Why Austin Peay Might Win: Looking at the confidence factor, the Governors may have a slight advantage entering this game. While Bearcats fans are, rightfully so, going to view this matchup as a ‘preseason’ game, giving the second team guys a chance to see the field, the Governors could be motivated enough to make this a game. In 2010 the Governors relied heavily on a two-running back attack in Terrance Holt and Ryan White. The pair combined for over 1,400 yards rushing and 12 touchdowns. Only White returns, which could provide Austin Peay with a much-needed running game in this matchup. Defensively, if the Governors are able to attack a fairly young Cincinnati offensive line and force the issue on an interception-prone Collaros, Austin Peay may be able to provide the people of Clarksville, Tenn. a reason to celebrate.
What To Watch Out For: A pair of running backs highlight the lineups of both Austin Peay and Cincinnati heading into this game. For the Governors, White returns following a 2010 campaign in which he totaled 734 yards and four touchdowns while splitting time. The position is all his in 2011, so look for him to try and make his mark on the game early and often, proving he is deserving of the position. Cincinnati senior Isaiah Pead, however, is one of the premier backs in the country. Despite less than stellar numbers in 2010, partially due to missing two full games for an injured knee, Pead has shown he has size, athleticism and talent to carry the running back banner for the entire conference. Look for Coach Jones to unleash Pead early, giving him enough reps to break the 100-yard mark before subbing in the second team.
What Will Happen: The Bearcats are going to score early and often, running up the score on Austin Peay by four touchdowns by halftime. The Governors will close the gap ever so slightly on the first drive of the second half, going up against the Bearcats’ second team, but by then the offensive damage will be done by the trio of Collaros, Pead and Woods. All is not lost, however, for the Governors. This opening game, while fairly lopsided, will provide the team great experience entering a more winnable matchup the following week at Memphis
CFN Prediction: Cincinnati 55 … Austin Peay 10
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