2011 Predictions & Game Story
Week 2 - Cincinnati at Tennessee
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Sept. 10 at Tennessee 45 ... Cincinnati 23
CFN Analysis: COMING
(AP) KNOXVILLE, Tenn. -- Tyler Bray threw for a career-high 405 yards, passed for four touchdowns and ran for a fifth score as Tennessee cruised to a 45-23 win over Cincinnati on Saturday.
Bray completed 34 of 41 passes and bettered his previous career high of 354 yards as the Volunteers (2-0) got their first win over a nonconference BCS opponent in six tries.
Da'Rick Rogers caught two of the touchdown passes and had 100 yards receiving, and Justin Hunter added 156 yards receiving and a score.
Isaiah Pead led the Bearcats (1-1) with 155 yards rushing, DJ Woods had 111 yards receiving and Zach Collaros was 21 for 34 for 230 yards.
Both teams scored touchdowns on their first two drives. Bray found Rogers by himself on one side of the end zone for an 11-yard touchdown pass to give the Vols a 21-14 lead with 13:20 left before halftime that they wouldn't relinquish.
The pass, Bray's second TD throw of the game, marked the eighth consecutive game the sophomore has thrown multiple scoring strikes, eclipsing Peyton Manning's team record of seven games set in 1997.
The Vols held on to the momentum on the following drive, tackling Collaros for a loss of 6 yards after he dropped the ball in the backfield and they also stuffed Pead for a loss of a yard on fourth-and-1 at the Cincinnati 49.
After the teams traded punts and the Vols' Michael Palardy missed a 43-yard field goal attempt, Tennessee stopped the Bearcats again on fourth-and-1 by dropping Collaros for no gain. On the next drive, Bray found Rogers in the end zone again, this time in double coverage, and Rogers hung on to the ball while losing his helmet for a 15-yard touchdown catch with 1:15 in the second quarter.
Cincinnati marched down the field during the final minute of the half, but Hunter tipped a 47-yard field goal attempt by Tony Milano, and the Vols went into halftime with a 28-14 lead.
The Bearcats' frustrations continued after the break. Tennessee opened with a 10-play, 70-yard drive capped by a 1-yard touchdown run by Bray.
On the following drive, the Bearcats reached the Tennessee 1 on a 24-yard pass from Collaros to Kenbrell Thompkins, who had previously committed to Tennessee under former coach Lane Kiffin. The Vols kept them from getting any closer, and Cincinnati settled for a 23-yard field goal by Tony Milano to cut the margin to 35-17.
The Bearcats, who scored a Football Bowl Subdivision-leading 72 points in the opening week of the season, couldn't close the gap any more.
Pead, who had 104 yards rushing in the first quarter alone, ran 65 yards for a touchdown the first time he touched the ball, the third play of the game. Pead had a 40-yard touchdown run on the first play of the Bearcats' season opening 72-10 win over Austin Peay.
Tennessee coach Derek Dooley reached into his bag of tricks early in the game to keep pace with the Bearcats. Tennessee had answered a 65-yard touchdown run by Pead with a seven-play drive capped by a 2-yard touchdown run by Marlin Lane. Palardy attempted -- and recovered -- an onside kick, and the Vols scored five plays later on a 33-yard touchdown pass from Bray to Hunter.
But Dooley was still disappointed with the Vols' two turnovers on fumbles, the second which led to Cincinnati's final touchdown, a 4-yard pass from Collaros to Anthony McClung with 8:46 left in the game.
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Cincinnati (1-0) at Tennessee (1-0) Sept. 10, 3:30, ESPN2
Here's The Deal … Though separated by just a four-hour ride down I-75, this is just the sixth meeting between Cincinnati and Tennessee, and the first since 1992. It promises to be an intriguing, under-the-radar match up that could speak volumes about both programs' 2011 potential. The Vols began Year 2 of the Derek Dooley regime with an uncontested, 42-16 win over Montana. A young squad, Tennessee is still learning on the go and making the kinds of mistakes that coaches find maddening. With a trip to Gainesville in the on-deck circle, UT must keep its eye on the ball and resist the temptation to look ahead to the start of the SEC schedule.
The Bearcats are also led by a second-year coach, Butch Jones, who needs to shake a rough debut on a new campus. Cincy got off to a good start last Thursday, mercilessly pummeling overmatched Austin Peay, 72-10. However, that effort will amount to little unless the team can deliver an encore presentation at Neyland Stadium. Cincinnati's Zach Collaros vs. Tennessee's Tyler Bray is one of the country's sneaky-good quarterback battles of the second weekend.
Why Cincinnati Might Win: The Bearcats are a seasoned bunch determined to erase the memory of last season's 4-8 collapse. The offense is in the able hands of Collaros, a senior, and the defense returns all of its 2010 starters. Tennessee has tailored an average D that's starting two true freshmen, A.J. Johnson and Curt Maggitt, at linebacker. An even bigger concern for the Volunteers than Collaros and top receiver D.J. Woods is Cincinnati RB Isaiah Pead. A bona fide gamebreaker, with a future on Sundays, the veteran opened his final year with 87 yards rushing and two scores on just seven carries. The balance of the Bearcats will be a major problem for the Vols D.
Why Tennessee Might Win: Following a pedestrian offseason, Bray played in the opener as if he had something to prove. The sophomore beat the Grizzlies for three touchdowns and 293 yards on 17-of-24 passing. Better yet, he looks more comfortable than ever with sophomore receivers Justin Hunter and Da'Rick Rogers. The pair combined for 11 receptions for 246 yards and two touchdowns, flashing their big-play ability. The Cincinnati defense is a year older, but still needs to prove it's a year better. The pass defense, in particular, is prone to getting exposed by well-sized and quality overall athletes.
What To Watch Out For: The game-within-the-game with the biggest impact on the outcome will be the Tennessee wide receivers versus the Cincinnati secondary. Hunter and Rogers are budding superstars who can stretch the field. Oh, they're also 6-4 and 6-3, respectively, making each a threat to sky above opposing defensive backs.
The Bearcats will answer with 5-9 Camerron Cheatham at field corner and inexperienced sophomore Deven Drane on the boundary. If the Vols can spread out the field, it's going to create wider running lanes for steady, north-south back Tauren Poole.
What Will Happen: Tennessee and Cincinnati might think they're peering into a mirror when the two face off on Saturday. Both schools have second-year head coaches, will lean on the passing game and are eager to elevate beyond losing seasons in 2010. Bray and Collaros will engage in an entertaining shootout, with both quarterbacks surpassing 300 yards through the air. In a back-and-forth game that'll remain tight throughout, the Volunteers will survive a thriller despite continuing to underachieve along the offensive line.
CFN Prediction: Tennessee 35 … Cincinnati 27
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Tennessee -6.5 O/U: 53
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