The Times West Virginian

Bob Herzel

November 13, 2009

High stakes in WVU-Cincy matchup

CINCINNATI — Talk is cheap.

Tickets to tonight’s game between West Virginia University and Cincinnati are not.

With the Big East championship possibly at stake, with the resurgent Bearcat program at heights no one could have seen five years ago, with a national television audience staring in from afar, this meeting between the two nationally ranked powers has this quiet old city on the banks of the Ohio River buzzing.

Cincinnati brings a No. 5 ranking in all polls into the 8 p.m. game that will be shown on ESPN2, WVU having jumped back into the rankings at No. 24 in the USA Today coaches’ poll.

The Bearcats are unbeaten through nine games, five of them in Big East Conference play. WVU is 7-2 and has won three of four conference games.

“This is what you want. This is why you play the game,” West Virginia quarterback Jarrett Brown said.

“This is what you dream for. This is what you came to college for. This is the reason you choose West Virginia, playing games like this,” Brown’s deep-threat wide receiver, Alric Arnett, added. “This is like a high school rivalry game. You don’t have to tell anyone to get up for this game. They already know.”

Cincinnati is 10-point favorite, but history says the game will be closer than that.

“We are anticipating a tough football game,” West Virginia coach Bill Stewart said. “We have played each other pretty tough over the years.”

Stewart recalled how one meeting between the two teams ended with a Cincinnati field goal hitting an upright, and how two years ago WVU pulled out a 28-23 victory.

Then, of course, last year the Mountaineers tied the game at Milan Puskar Stadium on Pat McAfee’s last-second field goal before losing in overtime.

To win, West Virginia must play better than it has leading into the game. After showing a high-powered offense built around the passing attack through the first five games, WVU has diminished over the past four games.

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Bob Herzel
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