Regardless of how good this team is, Cincinnati is the two-time defending Big East champions. They've also beaten SU five-straight times. A win over the Bearcats would be another quality notch in Doug Marrone and SU's belt, a belt that we hope will need loosening due to the sheer volume of bologna sandwiches to be eaten.
Dave Rahme has his Orange Insider preview of the game up and he says its "a classic showdown of high-powered offense vs. relentless defense." On the other side of the ball, however, he Orange are going to need to do one thing they haven't been doing much of...scoring touchdowns.
Duh. Seriously, though, the Orange cannot settle for field goals instead of touchdowns when it gets into the red zone. It got away with that last week at West Virginia, but the Bearcat’s offense is much more potent than WVU’s and will be unforgiving if SU fails to punch the ball into the end zone every time it gets within range. It cannot afford to get into a shootout with UC. It must consume the clock with chain-moving drives and finish them with TDs.
Going back to that defense though, it's Scoot Shafer's world and we're just sacking quarterbacks in it. Rahme gets some insight into how Shafer is able to attack offenses so well and how much fun it is for the players:
That is why Shafer spends most games watching the opposing offense, leaving his assistants to monitor the defense. Once he gets a handle on what the foe is doing he will unleash the heat. And for his defenders, that is when the fun begins. It’s time to hunt quarterbacks.
"It’s like your heartbeat slows down right before the huddle call," said middle linebacker Derrell Smith, who has yet to record a sack this season but had 6.5 last season. "And then as soon as the play starts you just go full speed. You hold your breath right before you get there, your eyes get big and you try to hit him as hard as you can."
The big question all week has been will-Zach-Collaros-play-or-won't-he? And the answer is...we still have no idea. He will be a gametime decision.
On the SU side, The Artist Known As Prince-Tyson Gulley is questionable for the Cincy game due to illness. He sat out practice on Wednesday with a sore throat. Somebody get him some Vicks, please.
Cincy defensive tackle Derek Wolfe puts things in perspective on how the Bearcats season has gone. That arrogance they came into the year with is dissipating.
"If you think about it, the position we’re in right now, Syracuse has been in that position for a long time and they’ve got a little chip on their shoulder now," Wolfe said. "They had to deal with it. We’re getting a little taste of what it feels like. Maybe it’s good for us. We were kind of getting a little arrogant. We came into the season arrogant. I’m not going to lie. We did. It’s kind of a wakeup call, losing a couple of games. It changes your whole mindset. It gets you to work harder. We were playing a little hesitant but this week I thought it was the best week of practice the defense has had."
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