Friday, September 20, 2002

UC has to bring best vs. Ohio State

UC hoping to avoid mistakes in showdown

By Michael Perry
The Cincinnati Enquirer

        For the University of Cincinnati to upset sixth-ranked Ohio State on Saturday, this much is certain: When the Bearcat players watch film of the game two days later, they can't see a slew of missed opportunities.

        Do they have to play a perfect game? Perhaps.

With Maurice Clarett out, sophomore Lydell Ross may carry the rushing load for Ohio State.
(AP photo)
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        “We've got to come in loose, but at the same time, we can't have that many mistakes,” UC sophomore quarterback Gino Guidugli said. “We've got to play pretty much flawless as far as turnovers and drive-stopping penalties and things like that.”

        UC is 2-7 against Top 25 teams under ninth-year coach Rick Minter. The Bearcats last defeated a top-10 team in 1999, when they upset No. 8 Wisconsin 17-12 at Nippert Stadium the week before they played Ohio State in Columbus (and lost 34-20).

        This weekend is a chance for Cincinnati (1-1) to elevate the perception of its program. A sellout crowd of 66,927 is expected at Paul Brown Stadium, and a national television audience - potentially 90 million homes - will be watching on ESPN.

        “We've got nothing to lose,” Guidugli said. “I like going into a game like this.”

  UC results against ranked opponents under coach Rick Minter (since 1994):
  • 2000: No. 5 Wisconsin 28, UC 25
  • 2000: UC 27, No. 20 Southern Miss 24
  • 1999: UC 17, No. 8 Wisconsin 12
  • 1999: No. 10 Ohio State 34, UC 20
  • 1999: No. 21 Southern Miss 28, UC 20
  • 1999: No. 24 East Carolina 48, UC 34
  • 1998: No. 24 Syracuse 63, UC 21
  • 1996: No. 17 Kansas State 35, UC 0
  • 1995: No. 21 Kansas State 23, UC 21
  Source: UC sports information office
        Said Minter: “Oh sure, it's an opportunity. But we're not going to go into it in awe or anything like that. You really are falling prey to their wishes if we sit around here and say, "Oooo, it's Ohio State, we better practice hard, or we better play good this week.' I mean, what the heck did we do the first two games?”

        Minter is careful not to place too much importance on one game, knowing it won't make or break the Bearcats' season.

        In '99, after upsetting Wisconsin, UC went on to win just one of its last eight games and finish 3-8.

        “It's just another game on the schedule,” Minter said. “If we win it, we're 2-1. If we lose it, we're 1-2. And I'll feel just as bad or good either way.”

        Ohio State (3-0) will be playing in Cincinnati for the first time since 1911, and it's the first time the Buckeyes have played an in-state opponent on the road since 1934.

        How can UC take advantage?

UC quarterback Gino Guidugli will have to make big plays and avoid interceptions.
(AP photo)
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        Get off to a good start. This hasn't been a Bearcat strength this season. UC trailed West Virginia by 18 points after three quarters last week and was behind TCU by 15 points with 7:51 left. Cincinnati did a good job jumping out to a 17-3 lead against Ohio State when the teams met in 1999.

        “We have to play with a sense of urgency from the get-go, not just wait around to see magic happen,” Minter said. “We've shown the ability to come back, but a good team doesn't allow you to do those things.”

        Stop the run. Well, duh. Cincinnati gave up 334 rushing yards to West Virginia last week, and now it faces one of the best running teams in the country. With or without Maurice Clarett, the Buckeyes' freshman sensation, OSU still will rely on its rushing attack.

        “If we do what the plan is, run to the ball, make tackles, not allow extra yards after contact, we have a big chance of winning this game,” UC senior defensive end Antwan Peek said. “We will stop their running game.”

        Eliminate turnovers. The Bearcats can't afford to give OSU extra possessions. Guidugli threw four interceptions against TCU but none last week. UC has lost three fumbles in two games. OSU's defense has totaled five interceptions but no fumble recoveries in three games.

        Handle the atmosphere. UC will see more red shirts in the stands than at any other home game in school history. But many will have gray trim and be worn by Ohio State fans. The Bearcats have averaged about 24,000 fans a game over the past two seasons. OSU drew a record crowd of 104,553 last weekend against Washington State and is used to big-time environments.

        Don't give up big plays. In the UC-OSU meeting three years ago, the Buckeyes had a 39-yard run and passes of 59, 55 and 50 yards. OSU finished with six plays of more than 20 yards but had none as the Bearcats built an early 14-point lead.

        “There's no hoop or hype or speech or motivation that I'll give them that'll make the difference, because it'll be about preparation,” Minter said. “Did we get the job done in practice and are we good enough or not? It will boil down to that.”


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vs. South Florida (3-4)
• 1:00 p.m. Sat. Nov. 20
• Nippert Stadium
• Radio: WLW-AM 700


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