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Place: Glass Bowl, Toledo, Ohio
Cincinnati has cruised to a 5-0 mark with a near 25-point average margin of victory. To continue the perfect season and gain bowl eligibility, the No. 18 Bearcats can’t afford a slow start Saturday against an explosive Toledo offense in their first true road game of the year. After a slim 27-24 victory over Virginia Tech on Sept. 29, Cincinnati dismantled Miami (Ohio) 52-14 and FCS opponent Fordham 49-17 in its last two contests.
But in the blowout over the Rams last week, the Bearcats were sluggish early, managing only one offensive touchdown en route to a 14-6 halftime lead. The Rockets are tied for 30th in the nation with 36.4 points per game – chalking up 50-plus in each of their last two contests – and 26th in production at 475 yards per game.
While Toledo has lost its last nine games against ranked opponents – its last victory a 49-30 result over No. 21 Northern Illinois on Nov. 15, 2003 – the Rockets did defeat Cincinnati 23-16 in their last matchup, the 2001 Motor City Bowl. Toledo received two votes in this week’s USA Today Poll.
Toledo Rockets (6-1): The Rockets have star power at each of their offensive skill positions in quarterback Terrance Owens, running back David Fluellen and receiver Bernard Reedy. Owens averages 298.8 total yards per game, Fluellen has 792 receiving yards and nine scores and Reedy has caught 52 passes for 666 yards and five touchdowns.
In Toledo’s 52-48 victory over Eastern Michigan last week, Fluellen scampered for 188 yards and a pair of touchdowns while Reedy caught 11 passes for a career-high 237 yards and two touchdowns.
He also returned a kickoff 89 yards for another score. The Rockets’ vice lies in their defense. Toledo allows 477.9 yards (111th nationally) and 28.1 points per game. The only real positive is the 14 turnovers the Rockets have forced compared to the eight they’ve allowed.
Cincinnati Bearcats (5-0): Quarterback Munchie Legaux is 81-of-144 with 1,208 yards, 11 touchdowns and three interceptions this season. He is averaged 265 passing yards in the Bearcats’ last three contests while throwing for seven touchdowns and one interception in that span.
A dual-threat quarterback, Legaux also averages nearly 40 rushing yards per game and has scored twice on the ground this season. George Winn paces the Cincinnati ground game with 104.2 yards per game and four scores this season while five Bearcats enter the game with at least 10 receptions and an average of more than 39 receiving yards per game.
The Bearcats have scored 101 points in their last two games and against a porous Rockets defense Saturday night, Legaux and Co. could be in for another high-scoring performance.
1. Cincinnati has outscored opponents 114-20 in the first and third quarters combined, but only 71-52 in the second and fourth.
2. Toledo is 14-2 in its last 16 games.
3. The Rockets look to win seven straight games for the first time since 2001.