By Bill Koch
The Cincinnati Enquirer
University of Cincinnati quarterback Gino Guidugli likes to compare the UC-Miami game to the Highlands-Covington Catholic rivalry from his high school days.
But there's one major difference: Guidugli was 3-0 in the games he started against Covington Catholic; he's 0-2 against Miami and the RedHawks' talented junior quarterback, Ben Roethlisberger.
CINCINNATI AT MIAMI
Kickoff: 2 p.m. Saturday. |
Where: Yager Stadium.
TV: Ch. 64.
Records: UC 3-0, Miami 2-1.
Guidugli vs. Miami
2001: 22-36, 206 yards, 0 TD, 1 INT
2002: 27-48, 353 yards, 1 TD, 2 INT
Totals: 49-84, 559 yards, 1 TD, 3 INT
As Guidugli approached the Nippert Stadium turf for practice Wednesday and saw a reporter waiting, he smiled. He knew what was coming: more questions about his personal rivalry against Roethlisberger, a rivalry he says doesn't really exist.
"That's just y'all talking," he said. "There's 10 other guys on the field who are going to make the difference in the game. We've just got to make the plays when they're available."
UC guard Kyle Takavitz said Guidugli has never mentioned beating Roethlisberger as a personal priority.
"I think he prepares for it the same way he would any other team," Takavitz said.
That may be true, but even Guidugli concedes that this is more than just another game on the schedule, not so much because of Roethlisberger but because of the UC-Miami regional rivalry.
"There's a little more oomph to it," Guidugli said.
The RedHawks have won each of the last two games, 31-26 last year at Nippert Stadium and 21-14 two years ago at Miami's Yager Stadium, the site of Saturday's 2 p.m. game.
In the first game, Roethlisberger threw for 264 yards and two touchdowns with no interceptions and 20 completions in 25 attempts. Guidugli passed for 206 yards, no touchdowns and one interception.
The Bearcats had a chance to tie that game when they drove to the 19 late in the fourth quarter, but Guidugli was stopped on fourth-and-1 on a quarterback sneak with 2:31 left.
Last year, Guidugli outpassed Roethlisberger, 353 yards to 240. Both players threw one touchdown pass, but Guidugli was intercepted twice, both times in the fourth quarter, to just once for Roethlisberger.
And yes, those losses did sting a little more than the others.
"That being your rival, it's got to hurt," Guidugli said. "Both of the games were close. We thought we just made little mistakes that ended up being the cause of the loss."
Guidugli is coming off his best game of the young season. He passed for 321 yards and one touchdown last week against Temple, rallying the Bearcats from a two-touchdown deficit in the fourth quarter to a triple-overtime victory.
UC coach Rick Minter says it's important that Guidugli not get caught up in a personal duel with Roethlisberger, and the coach is confident Guidugli hasn't.
"He'd make a mistake if he tried to put undue pressure on himself and said, 'I've got to stop this stuff against Ben or against Miami,' " Minter said.
But another loss to Miami would leave Guidugli staring at 0-3 vs. the RedHawks and Roethlisberger, with the foreboding prospect that he could finish his UC career with every passing record in the books but also without a win against the Bearcats' archrivals.
"That's not what I had in my plans," Guidugli said.
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