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The Cincinnati Bearcats are, statistically, one of the top running games in the country. But Virginia Tech shut down the run, and made the Bearcats one dimensional. The end result was a game the Bearcats dominated, but won at the end.
After two games the prevailing consensus was that the Bearcats offense could line up, and run the ball down anyone's throat. George Winn had emerged as a more than capible replacement for Isaiah Pead. The running game didn't just grind out big yardage totals, it created big plays in bunches.
That prevailing notion was put to the test against Virginia Tech, and it remains unclear whether the running game is that good, particularly when it comes to generating big chunks of yardage, or if Delaware State and Pitt were just bad. In the first two contests of the year the Bearcats ripped off 16 runs of 10 or more yards. Against the Hokies, UC produced just 4 such runs, and VA Tech held the Cats to the lowest rushing total since the disastrous Rutgers game from a year ago.
The next two weeks, hell, the next three weeks, won't give much information about the viability of the running game against teams that are good against the run. Miami, despite what Don Treadwell will tell you, is dry grassland awaiting a lightning strike to explode. Fordham is Fordham, and Toledo has average numbers, but hasn't really faced a team that makes its living on the ground, aside from Arizona that is.
The Bearcats should be able to keep things simple, and still be able to roll up big totals in each of those games. At the end of that stretch is Louisville. While the Cardinals are clearly not, for whatever reason, the defense of last year. They do have a ton of depth in the front 7, particularly along the D-Line and are capible of approaching the game in a similar vein to Bud Foster and Co.
While Munchie is clearly capible of beating a team with his arm, the running game is still the biggest threat to defenses, at least it is right now. It will be interesting to watch the running game, and how opposing teams attack it, for the next few weeks. As much as I trust Munchie Legaux, opposing defensive coordinators probably still feel that their best bet for stopping the Bearcats is to load up against the run.
The results of the Miami game are unlikely to tell us anything, but their approach just might. Miami's defense is bad, really, really bad. They don't really have the depth, or general athleticism to keep up with UC for four quarters. They will obviously have to pick their spots with the Bearcats, and the spots they pick could provide a little insight into what weaknesses they perceive in the Bearcats offense.