By Bill Koch
The Cincinnati Enquirer
A 3-0 start to a college football season might not seem like an overwhelming achievement, but at the University of Cincinnati, it hasn't been done in 18 years.
Since it last happened in 1985, the Bearcats have changed coaches twice, joined Conference USA, won their first league championship in 38 years and played in four bowl games after a 46-year drought.
With a win tonight against Temple (0-2), UC (2-0) can nail down that elusive 3-0 start and gain momentum for next week's showdown against neighborhood rival Miami.
"Success breeds confidence," senior center Josh Shneyderov said. "If we can keep going, who knows? Maybe we can run the table."
A UC win also would give head coach Rick Minter his 51st victory, one more than Sid Gillman, the school's winningest coach.
The glow from last week's upset victory at West Virginia hasn't faded entirely, but the UC players have done their best this week to put it behind them and focus on their second Big East opponent in as many weeks.
"The hardest thing you've got to do is start thinking about next week," junior guard Kyle Takavitz said. "That was a great win for us and I'll remember that one forever, but basically this whole week has been about Temple."
Temple, which didn't play last week, hasn't had a winning season since 1990. The Owls played well in their season opener against Penn State before succumbing 23-10, then lost the following week 23-20 in double overtime to Division I-AA Villanova. Starting tailback Makonnen Fenton suffered broken ribs in that game and is out.
Without Fenton, who gained 118 yards against the Nittany Lions, the Owls will have to rely more heavily on a questionable passing game and junior quarterback Mike McGann, who has completed 33 of 61 passes for 406 yards and one touchdown
Under head coach Bobby Wallace, Temple's defense has been ranked among the nation's top 20 in each of the last two seasons but has slipped to 62nd this year, surrendering 355 yards a game, including 142 on the ground.
UC ranks seventh nationally in rushing offense with 263 yards a game. The Bearcats are averaging 52 running plays through their first two games, up from 39 last year.
"Right now, that's what we do best," Minter said.
Running back Richard Hall averages 101 yards a game, with redshirt freshman Derrick Eddington contributing 95.
The missing ingredient for UC so far has been the passing game, as quarterback Gino Guidugli tries to establish a synergy with his new receivers. Minter has promised to use more players at the wide receiver spots tonight to keep them fresh.
Tonight's game could provide Guidugli his chance to get on track. The Owls allowed 347 passing yards against Villanova.
"We've got to throw the ball more," Minter said. "We want to be more balanced."
Cincinnati vs. Temple
Kickoff: 7 p.m. today, Nippert Stadium (35,000).
Records: UC 2-0, Temple 0-2.
Radio: WCKY-AM (1360).
Series: Temple leads 9-3-1.
Line: UC by 13 1/2.
What to watch: With Owls RB Makonnen Fenton out with a rib injury, the UC defense will look to pressure QB Mike McGann
|263||Avg. by rush||128|
|137||Avg. by pass||229|
|87||Avg. by rush||142|
|135||Avg. by pass||213|
|27||Avg. points for||15|
|8||Avg. pts. against||23|
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