Bluefield Daily Telegraph, Bluefield, WV

College Sports

September 29, 2012

Hokies seek redemption; Bearcats want validation

BLACKSBURG, Va. — Virginia Tech seeks redemption by association for an early season beating that highlighted how much work the Hokies still have to do. Cincinnati is seeking simple validation.

Only one of them can get what it wants when the teams meet Saturday at FedEx Field in Landover, Md.

The Hokies (3-1) were knocked from the Top 25 by a 35-17 loss to then-winless Pittsburgh on Sept. 15. Only nine days earlier, the Bearcats (2-0) had manhandled the Panthers 34-10 in their Big East opener.

The Hokies think the matchup gives them a chance to show that one was an aberration.

“It would just show that that’s not the football team that we are,” cornerback Antone Exum said this week.

“If we come out and do our jobs against Cincinnati and are able to get a victory there, then it would show that maybe that Pittsburgh game was a fluke. Maybe we just weren’t ready to play that day.”

The loss to Pittsburgh cost the Hokies their ultimate goal for the season — playing for the national championship — but they remain in control of their path to a spot in the ACC championship game.

The game is their final tuneup before they dive into conference play next weekend at North Carolina, and Exum said they need to build confidence by following last week’s victory with a better performance.

“I think we’re close,” he said. “It just comes down to how we practice and being consistent.”

The Bearcats will have something to say about that, too.

Cincinnati is coming off an open week, and used it to try to work out a tendency to turn the ball over. The Bearcats had six giveaways in their last game, a 23-7 victory against overmatched Delaware State.

The sloppiness was team-wide, but quarterback Munchie Legaux had four of the turnovers.

“We got to do a better job of taking care of the ball.” Legaux said. “It starts with me as a quarterback, the running backs running with the ball and also the receivers chinning the ball.”

The game also is a chance for Cincinnati to carry the banner for the Big East, just like Pittsburgh did against the Hokies. There’s a perception, Legaux thinks, that the Big East gets little respect.

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