Virginia Tech (3-1) vs. Cincinnati (2-0)
The Sports Network
DATE & TIME: Saturday, September 29, 3:30 p.m. (et)
FACTS & STATS: Site: FedEx Field (85,000) -- Landover, Maryland. Television: ESPNU. Home Record: Virginia Tech 3-0, Cincinnati 2-0 Away Record: Virginia Tech 0-1, Cincinnati 0-0. Neutral Record: Virginia Tech 0-0, Cincinnati 0-0. Conference Record: Virginia Tech 1-0, Cincinnati 1-0. Series Record: Virginia Tech leads 5-4.
GAME NOTES: In a neutral site matchup that pits ACC and Big East foes, the Virginia Tech Hokies and the Cincinnati Bearcats will square off at FedEx Field in Landover, Maryland on Saturday.
Virginia Tech lost its national ranking with a 35-17 loss to a previously winless Pittsburgh squad two weeks ago but rebounded this past weekend with a 37-0 rout of Bowling Green at home. It was the 26th shutout for Virginia Tech under defensive coordinator Bud Foster and the first since a 38-0 win over instate rival Virginia in the regular season finale last year. The Hokies are now 3-1 on the season.
Cincinnati has already had a pair of byes this season including an off-week last weekend. The Bearcats have been successful in the two games they have played with wins over Delaware State (23-7) and Big East foe Pittsburgh (34-10). Cincinnati has won five straight games dating back to last season which marks the longest winning streak since a six-game win streak that began in September of last season.
In nine previous meetings between these squads Virginia Tech has a slim edge with five wins over the Bearcats, including consecutive wins entering this year. The teams have not met since the 2008 season when the Hokies downed the Bearcats 20-7 at Dolphin Stadium in Miami Gardens, Florida.
The Hokies' 3-1 start has been without much of an offensive surge, as the squad is ranked ninth in the ACC in total offense this season (366.3 ypg). Virginia Tech has scored at a respectable clip though with the squad putting up 29.0 points per game by being extremely efficient (13-for-14) in the red zone.
Logan Thomas was advertised as a rising star in the ACC, but thus far the junior quarterback has had modest results. Thomas has completed only 51.7 percent of his passes and has been picked off four times. However Thomas has managed to put up 851 yards through the air and is currently ranked fifth in the conference in passing touchdowns. Thomas even struggled in the win over Delaware State, with the signal caller completing just 11-of-26 passes for 144 yards.
Frank Beamer's offenses have been predicated on a strong running game, but without a primary back to rely on that has not been the case in 2012. The Hokies have still compiled 709 yards on the ground but thus far Michale Holmes (151 yards) is the team's leading rusher. There has been balance in the running game though as four different players have at least 96 yards rushing this season.
Marcus Davis has been the team's best receiver this season with team-highs in receptions (14) and yards (274).
While the offense has been less than spectacular the defense, as always, has been effective. So far this season the Hokies are giving up 14.8 points per game, which is the second best mark in the ACC, while outscoring their opponents by a hefty 116-59 margin.
Virginia Tech's efforts against the pass have been the strength of the unit with the team surrendering only 574 yards through the air, the second best mark in the conference behind only Florida State.
Jack Tyler has been a tackling machine for the Hokies, racking up 42 tackles, tops on the team and the third best total in the ACC. Bruce Taylor (23 tackles) is also in the top 10 in the conference in the category.
Despite a small sample size, Cincinnati has already looked like one of the stronger offensive squads in the Big East this season. The Bearcats are averaging 465.5 yards per game, which is the third best mark in the conference. The Bearcats are also ranked third in the conference in scoring (28.5 ppg).
At the center of the team's offensive attack is quarterback Munchie Legaux, who has been electric, amassing 555 yards of total offense this season which is more than 300 yards more than the second highest total. Legaux has throw for 413 yards and rushed for 142 and is completing his passes at a 61.8 percent clip.
Running back George Winn is the team's second leader in total offense with the bulk of his output coming on the ground (242 yards). Winn is averaging 121.0 yards per game, second only to Big East leading rusher Jawan Jamison of Rutgers.
Just like the offense it is difficult to judge the Cincinnati defense based on only two games but thus far the Bearcats have allowed only 17 points and 676 yards of total offense. The defense has been especially tough to score on in the first half with the Bearcats shutting out their opponents 37-0 through two games.
Greg Blair is the team's leader in tackles this season with 17 through the first two games for an 8.5 tackle-per-game average which is ranked fourth in the Big East this season. Walter Stewart has been the best pass rusher with a team-high in sacks (two) and tackles for loss (3.5).
This is an intriguing matchup that could prove to be a real test for both squads. It could be an especially key contest for Cincinnati which wants to prove its first two games were no fluke. Still Virginia Tech has a shorter travel distance for this matchup and Foster's defense should be able to find an answer for Legaux. If Thomas can cut down on his mistakes the Hokies should move to 4-1.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: Virginia Tech 27, Cincinnati 20
09/26 10:36:09 ET