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
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
”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
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
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
And ready to dance.
AP Sports Writer John Raby in Morgantown, W.Va., contributed to