College Football Preview: Concinnati vs. Hawaii
HONOLULU ó The last time Cincinnati and Hawaii met, police were needed to quell a postgame brawl following the Warriors’ 20-19 come-from-behind victory in 2002.
Then-Bearcats athletic director Bob Goin denounced Hawaii officials, even accusing their mascot of roughing up Cincinnati’s mascot.
A lot has changed since then, including the players, coaches and athletic directors at both schools. The biggest difference is how much the two unheralded programs have improved in the past couple years.
No. 13 and Big East champion Cincinnati (10-2) is seeking a school-record 11th victory of the season tonight against Hawaii (7-5), which had a breakout season last year when it went 12-0 before being routed by Georgia in the Sugar Bowl.
“Both programs have moved dramatically forward from those days,” second-year Bearcats coach Brian Kelly said. “I know our kids will play with poise and I know their program, obviously coming off a BCS bid last year, that they’ve moved forward in their program.
“We’re not going to have any of those antics. But having said that, it’s nice to have the Big East (officiating) crew,” he said.
Both schools have secured postseason bids with the Bearcats to make their first BCS appearance in school history in the Sugar Bowl or Orange Bowl. The Warriors will play in their hometown Hawaii Bowl for the fifth time since 2002.
The teams say there’s still a lot on the line.
Besides 11 wins, Kelly said there’s also an opportunity to break into the top 10 for the first time. The Bearcats have already matched their highest ranking, previously reached in 1954.
“So, clearly there are a lot of things out there for our football team, and we’re going to make sure they attain those goals,” said Kelly, who earlier this week ended speculation that he’s leaving the Bearcats for another program.
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