No. 23 Cincinnati wants to sing its song again

Cincinnati’s players form a circle in the locker room, pop their

favorite tune into the sound system and start to sway. Even coach

Butch Jones throws his head back and improvises a few moves.

Whenever they win this season, it’s time for the 23rd-ranked

Bearcats to dance.

And nothing would be sweeter than to hop around the visitors’

locker room at Paul Brown Stadium on Saturday, where first-place

Cincinnati can essentially finish off one of its top threats in the

Big East race. A win would leave the Bearcats (7-1, 3-0) in control

and knock West Virginia (6-3, 2-2) out of contention.

If that happens, they’ll crank up ”Get The Dub,” a song

produced by defensive lineman Walter Stewart to celebrate getting

another ”W” this season.

”We play it after every game,” left tackle Alex Hoffman said.

”It’s been a tradition of ours, especially after the last three

Big East games. We play the song in the locker room and coach Jones

sings along.”

Dances along, too – well, as best he can.

”It’s definitely unique,” Hoffman said. ”I’ve never seen a

head coach dance like that. It really gets the team fired up and

shows that much emotion.”

Quarterback Zach Collaros made two fists, extended them in front

of his chest and moved them in circles, simulating his coach’s best

move.

”Have you ever seen `Thriller’ by Michael Jackson when he hits

this?” Collaros said, moving his arms. ”Coach Jones does that a

little bit. It’s his go-to move.”

His team has danced its way to the top of the league.

The Bearcats have won six in a row and pulled away from the rest

of the Big East by showing a lot of resiliency. They’ve overcome

second-half deficits of nine, 10 and 10 points while beating

Louisville, South Florida and Pittsburgh in the last three

games.

A win on Saturday would leave them in control of the league and

on pace for their third outright title in the last four years.

”We know what’s at stake,” running back Isaiah Pead said.

”But we can’t let that blind us to preparing in ways that got us

to the driver’s seat.”

West Virginia is feeling a little desperation, knowing a loss on

Saturday would essentially eliminate it from the race.

”Our goal is to win the Big East,” coach Dana Holgorsen said.

”We’re hanging on to that hope. We need to win this week in order

for that to happen.”

Holgorsen threatened to leave some players behind this weekend

if he didn’t see an attitude change. This comes after the

Mountaineers lost to Louisville on their home field.

”We’re going to take who wants to win,” he said. ”We’re going

to take who wants to pull for his teammates and who wants to be all

in on this thing, not guys that pout and mope because they’re not

playing or any of the rest of it.”

West Virginia has been the league’s most consistent team,

finishing first or second in each of the last nine years. The

Mountaineers have the league’s top passer in Geno Smith, who ranks

seventh nationally with 347.2 yards per game.

It hasn’t been enough.

”It’s always do-or-die, man,” Smith said. ”I always go out

there and play my hardest. Especially now, we have to turn it up a

little bit because we’re in a vulnerable spot. And we can either go

up or go down.”

Shockingly, it’s the defense that’s been a letdown. West

Virginia has given up 247 points, the most in the league. Its run

defense allows 130 yards per game, second-most in the Big East.

It’ll be Cincinnati’s second game this season at Paul Brown

Stadium, home of the NFL’s Bengals. The Bearcats beat Louisville

there 25-16 on Oct. 15 to start their Big East run.

Their biggest game yet could come down to their top runner. Pead

has excelled in his two games at Paul Brown, running for 169 yards

in a 31-29 loss to Oklahoma last season and for 151 yards –

including a decisive 50-yard touchdown – in the win over

Louisville.

He likes playing in the big stadium.

”I think some of it is coincidence and some of it is the

energy, how big the stage is and how the crowd is and sometimes how

big the game is there – a little mixture of both,” Pead said.

”That may be the key to victory, running the ball. I’m up for the

challenge.”

And ready to dance.

AP Sports Writer John Raby in Morgantown, W.Va., contributed to

this report.