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Favorite Cincinnati Bearcat Football Player Since 1997 Tournament: Zach Collaros Wins Brian Kelly Region

Zach Collaros is the first finalist in the tournament following his defeat of Gino Guidugli.

Louisville v Cincinnati Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images

The Brian Kelly region of the Favorite Cincinnati Bearcat Football Player Since 1997 Tournament came down to two quarterbacks and now just one remains. That signal caller is Zach Collaros, who upended the program’s all-time passing leader Gino Guidugli in the regional final to advance to the Final Four. Right there is where the “favorite” in the tournament's title comes into play. Guidugli was arguably the better player, having thrown for nearly twice as many yards as Collaros, but that didn’t matter. Collaros rode through on the strength of not only positive individual results, but some strong work by the Bearcats as a whole while he was playing. He earned 58.8 percent of the vote in this matchup and is the first Final Four contender. Below is a look at the final results of the entire region.

The rest of the Final Four will be set later this week after the regional finals are all played out and a last-minute participant enters the fold. Stay tuned to find out. In the meantime, here are five fun facts about Collaros.

  1. Collaros was a first-team All-Big East Conference quarterback along with teammate Armon Binns in 2010. He threw for 2,902 yards and 26 touchdowns on 58.7 percent passing and also rushed for four touchdowns, but the Bearcats went just 4-8. The Bearcats were better in 2011 (10-3), but Collaros only managed 1,940 yards and 15 touchdowns.
  2. Collaros won the first and only Next Man In award (as far as I can tell) in 2009 when he threw for 1,434 yards and 10 touchdowns on a program record 75 percent passing as the successor to an injured Tony Pike.
  3. In UC’s record book, Collaros has three of the top 10 single-game performances in total yards, including the 555 he had against UConn in 2009. No other player has more than one appearance on that top 10 list. He also owns the program record for passing efficiency in a single season by more than 30 points.
  4. Collaros did not make it in the NFL, but he has enjoyed a rather successful career in the CFL. In 61 games (53 starts), he has thrown for 13,759 yards and 83 touchdowns compared to 38 interceptions on 66.5 percent passing while playing for the Toronto Argonauts the Hamilton Tiger-Cats.
  5. Speaking of non-Cincinnati football, Collaros was 41-1 as a starter in his three years at Steubenville High School in Ohio. While he was not the full-time starter in his first two seasons at UC, the Bearcats won the first 12 games in which Collaros made an appearance and went 24-9 in games he played during his four years on campus.