#8 Cincinnati walked into Raymond James Stadium this Thursday night. And much to my chagrin, they walked out with a W.
I knew they were coming in highly ranked, unbeaten, with a Heisman hopeful at the helm and a quick pass attack that ran the risk of baffling our usually strong pass rush. They got the better of us, but not how I was expecting.
Pike (who, by the way, looks like he touches little children... just saying.) gave us the offensive attack that I expected, but I was quite impressed with Cincy's defense. "What if"s and "If only"s don't get you far, but I will note that Pike's offense, while potent, was one dimensional. Honestly, it was backup Collaros who came in after Pike was injured who truly picked us apart. He made us respect the run--both from him and his backs--and set up the passing game well. It's possible we could have figured out Pike, but again, who knows?
BJ Daniels looked a bit more like the redshirt freshman he is than he has in the previous two games. That's not a knock on him, but unfortunately, it's not necessarily what we thought we'd be looking at at this point in 2009. That said, he gives me a lot of the same cardiac arrest that Grothe did--did anyone else find them yelling at him to throw the damn ball away?! And yet actual misfortune in the form of sacks and turnovers didn't come often, at least not from his ill-advised scrambles.
Cincy's a damn good team, and I hope that either a) they lose two and USF wins the Big East, or barring that, b) they run the table and head to the national championship, where the Big East hasn't had representation since the exodus of Miami, Virginia Tech, and Boston College.
As for USF, we have yet to have a winning record through our first two conference games since joining the Big East in 2005. Each year we've started 1-1, and in each year but the first, we'd continue on to at least 1-2 before rebounding. Here's hoping we can pick up the pace next week and win at Pitt to get off to a better start.
Thursday night games are an interesting beast. First off, they make it really hard to concentrate and get anything done at work on Thursday. Win, and you're riding high on Friday, and sitting content by the Saturday games. Lose, and you've got a few more days to fester, though the Saturday games can help drown your sorrows and give you something to hope for as you root against teams ranked ahead of you to hopefully soften the plummet. Either way, you either fear that the pollsters forgot your win, or hope that the pollsters forgot your loss.