2011 Predictions & Game Story
Week 3 - NC State at Cincinnati
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Cincinnati 44 ... NC State 14
CFN Analysis: Zach Collaros was terrific as now the Cincinnati offense really is rolling like the Cincinnati offense was supposed to last year under Butch Jones. Yes, the NC State defense is depleted, and yes, the Wolfpack offense kept screwing up, but 503 yards, 163 rushing yards from Isaiah Pead, and a brilliant performance by Collaros, with 263 yards and two touchdown passes and nine runs for 52 yards and two scores, showed in front of a national audience that the Bearcats are going to be a force in Big East play. If the run defense and the pass rush can continue to do what it did against the Wolfpack, watch out.
NC State is a disaster. Injuries on defense don’t excuse the miserable play from the offense, who’s biggest problem is a line that can’t do anything for the ground game and isn’t giving Mike Glennon any time. The Cincinnati defense is good, but it’s not so good that State should be held to -26 rushing yards. While Glennon did connect on a few big plays, and T.J. Graham was a weapon with his touchdown grabs from 87 and 49 yards away, this was an embarrassment. With Georgia Tech’s running game up next, the depleted defense has to figure out something in a big hurry – like how to take proper angles – or it’ll be another ugly blowout.
(AP) CINCINNATI -- Zach Collaros scrambled for two touchdowns and threw for two more, and Cincinnati's turnover-forcing defense got three more of them Thursday night, helping the Bearcats pull away to a 44-14 victory over North Carolina State.
The Bearcats (3-1) put together one of their most complete wins in coach Butch Jones' two seasons, taking full advantage of an injury-depleted defense.
N.C. State (2-2) couldn't keep up with Collaros, who repeatedly scrambled away from pressure and made pinpoint throws on the run. He ran 13 and 10 yards for touchdowns, and hooked up with running back Isaiah Pead on a 25-yard screen pass for another score. Pead ran for 167 yards and scored twice.
The Wolfpack's Mike Glennon threw touchdown passes of 87 and 49 yards to T.J. Graham, but had two interceptions that set up early Cincinnati touchdowns and set the tone.
The two-game series finished in a split -- the Wolfpack won 30-19 in Raleigh last year. The rematch was a telling moment for teams with questions about their defenses.
Cincinnati got rattled during a 45-23 loss at Tennessee, then rebounded by returning a fumble and two interceptions for touchdowns during a 59-14 win over Akron last Saturday. The turnovers kept coming Thursday night.
Cincinnati scored on three consecutive possessions for a 21-0 lead against a Wolfpack defense depleted by injuries. Two touchdowns were set up by interceptions, a theme for Cincinnati this season.
The Bearcats have eight interceptions in four games and are among the nation's leaders in forcing turnovers -- 16 in all, scoring off 13 of them.
Glennon had a rough time, getting sacked five times. He also fumbled a snap in shotgun formation, scuttling a drive late in the first half. He finished 25 of 36 for 334 yards, getting a lot of yards but few points.
Glennon's ninth pass was off-target and intercepted by safety Drew Frey, setting up Pead's 2-yard touchdown run for a 7-0 lead.
Collaros led the Bearcats to their next touchdown, completing a 44-yard pass while scrambling away from pressure. A roughing-the-passer penalty on Darryl Cato-Bishop on third down kept the drive going. Two plays later, Collaros scrambled 13 yards for a 14-0 lead.
J.K. Schaffer's third interception of the season ended the Wolfpack's next possession and set up a 10-yard draw play by Collaros for a 21-0 lead. Collaros ran nine times for 52 yards overall, and completed 25 of 34 passes for 263 yards with one interception.
Graham got the Wolfpack going with another catch-and-run. He took a short pass, slipped away from Camerron Cheatham and ran 87 yards, cutting the lead to 21-7. Collaros and the Bearcats then pulled away.
Graham has scored on catches of 63, 67, 87 and 49 yards in the last three games, putting together three straight 100-yard receiving efforts.
The Wolfpack's already depleted defensive line took another hit when tackle Brian Slay hurt his right ankle early in the second quarter and had to be helped off the field. Reserve tackle A.J. Ferguson also had to leave the game with an injured right knee but later returned.
NC State (2-1) at Cincinnati (2-1) Sept. 22, 8:00, ESPN
Here’s The Deal … NC State and Cincinnati clash for the second time in two years, and just the second time ever, in front of a national television audience. The Bearcats will be seeking redemption for last September’s 30-19 loss that was even worse than the score indicated. In three games, Cincy has spanked undermanned Austin Peay and Akron, yet was no match for Tennessee in Knoxville. In other words, the program is going to be a mystery until it starts playing a broader swath of competition.
The Wolfpack is actually in a very similar situation as this week’s opponent, wrapping meaningless blowouts of Liberty and South Alabama around a telling loss to Wake Forest. Its 2-1 mark is currently overstated by a weak schedule that includes a pair of FCS visitors. With the need for a quality win evident on both sidelines, the winner will get some wind in its sail. The loser will continue living a lie.
Why NC State Might Win: Yeah, the other team was South Alabama, but the Pack finally has some confidence on offense. Talented QB Mike Glennon has actually played well in consecutive games, throwing seven touchdown passes to one pick over that time. He’ll remain hot against an average Cincinnati secondary, teaming up with speedster T.J. Graham and the steady Tobias Palmer. The NC State defense will allow some yards, but compensate with a slew of big plays. The team leads the ACC in sacks and turnover margin behind the all-around disruptive play of LB Audie Cole, DE Darryl Cato-Bishop and CB David Amerson.
Why Cincinnati Might Win: While the Pack defense is opportunistic, it’s also missing two of its best players, DT JR Sweezy and LB Terrell Manning, to injury. At some point, depth will become an issue. The Bearcats have the weapons to capitalize on the ground and through the air. They’re multi-dimensional and unpredictable, riding the running of Isaiah Pead as well as the accurate throws of Zach Collaros. The senior has thrown seven touchdown passes without an interception, gradually getting more in sync with primary targets D.J. Woods, Anthony McClung and Kenbrell Thompkins. Almost identical to NC State, Cincinnati has been piling up the takeaways to lead the country in turnover margin.
What To Watch Out For: Cincinnati does not have a great defense, but it is making things happen … consistently. Remarkably, the Bearcats have seven fumble recoveries, six interceptions and just one turnover of their own. The catalysts on D have been familiar veterans of the program, DT Derek Wolfe, LB JK Schaffer and hybrid pass rusher Walter Stewart. The key will be which of the quarterbacks cracks under the pressure. Collaros has thrown no picks on 69 attempts, while Glennon has been intercepted just once on his 92 passes.
What Will Happen: This is going to be a key matchup for both schools, which have enough talent and weak spots to go in either direction. While the pair is similar in many ways, Cincinnati holds an important edge in the backfield. The combination of Collaros and Pead will be better on this night than Glennon and the committee of Curtis Underwood and James Washington. The Bearcats’ catalysts will lead the charge in a game that’ll be dictated by the offenses and turnovers.
CFN Prediction: Cincinnati 34 … NC State 24
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Cincinnati -7.5 O/U: 60.5
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