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Cincinnati-Oregon St. Preview

Sep 15, 2009 - 9:40 PM By JUSTIN EINHORN STATS Senior Editor

No. 12 Cincinnati (2-0) at Oregon State (2-0), 6:45 p.m. EDT

Somewhat quietly, Cincinnati has been as dominant through two games as nearly any team in the nation.

The 17th-ranked Bearcats might receive a bit more notoriety with another easy win Saturday night when they visit unbeaten Oregon State.

Only one point separates Cincinnati (2-0) from top-ranked Florida as the country's highest-scoring team, 118-117. The Bearcats' 99-point margin of victory isn't quite as good as the Gators' 109, but Cincinnati has defeated Big East foe Rutgers whereas Florida only beat Sun Belt team Troy and Football Championship Subdivision opponent Charleston Southern.

The Bearcats played an FCS team last Saturday and were very impressive, scoring the third-most points in school history in a 70-3 victory over Southeast Missouri State.

"We are a special offense, a special team," senior wideout Mardy Gilyard said. "No disrespect to the (Cincinnati) team that won the Big East last year, but this is a special team."

The next two games should provide a good test. Before next week's home game against Fresno State - which took Wisconsin to two overtimes last Saturday - the Bearcats visit an Oregon State team which is ranked No. 24 in the coaches' poll and was 28th in this week's AP voting.

Plus, the Beavers (2-0) have won five of their past nine against ranked teams and 15 of 17 at home, including last year's victory over top-ranked USC. They've won 26 straight non-conference home games since a 35-14 loss to Montana on Sept. 7, 1996.

"We are looking forward to challenging our football team," Bearcats coach Brian Kelly said. "Going out west and playing a top 20 team, then coming back next week and playing a very good Fresno State team. I think these next couple weeks will really challenge our team."

The biggest challenge facing Oregon State's defense may be keeping Gilyard in check. Last Saturday, he became the first FBS player to score on a punt return, run and catch in the same game since current Jacksonville Jaguars star Maurice Jones-Drew did it for UCLA in 2005.

Gilyard, the Big East's top kick returner and second-leading receiver last year, is second in the conference in receptions (14), receiving yards (200) and touchdown catches (three).

"It puts pressure on any defense you play against," quarterback Tony Pike said of throwing to Gilyard. "The biggest thing it will start is our other receivers will step up. Teams will have to put up more pressure on him."

Pike, who only played in the first half last week, has completed 77.2 percent of his passes for 591 yards with six TDs and one interception.

Oregon State relies more on the ground game and Jacquizz Rodgers, who has run for 269 yards and four scores after finishing second in the Pac-10 last season with 1,253 yards rushing. He's also the team leader with 14 receptions while his brother, James Rodgers, has a team-high 143 receiving yards and two TDs.

Sean Canfield has been steady when asked to throw, completing 78.6 percent without an interception. He engineered a 12-play, 64-yard drive that ended with Justin Kahut's 33-yard field goal with 7 seconds left to give the Beavers a 23-21 win at UNLV last Saturday.

"We have been very good in our two-minute offense," coach Mike Riley said. "It's not always easy, but I knew we had a chance. I knew our kids could handle that part of the game well."

Oregon State committed seven turnovers in a 34-3 loss at Cincinnati on Sept. 6, 2007, in the only previous meeting. The rematch sees the Bearcats become the first nationally ranked team outside the Pac-10 to visit Corvallis since 1977, when the Beavers upset No. 13 BYU 24-13.