EDITOR'S NOTE: This is the third of eight team previews that will be launched this week on BIGEAST.org. The order of release will coincide with the order of this year's preseason poll.
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Butch Jones takes over as head coach at Cincinnati and has the Bearcats poised for a run toward a third straight BIG EAST championship.
The last team to win three straight BIG EAST titles was Miami, which won or shared four championships from 2000-03.
Jones spent the last three years as head coach at Central Michigan, where he won two Mid-American Conference titles. Last year’s Central Michigan team finished the season ranked No. 23 in the Associated Press poll and No. 24 in the USA Today poll.
Cincinnati brings an 18-game regular-season winning streak into the 2010 season.
The Bearcats are 12-0 at Nippert Stadium in the last two seasons.
QB Zach Collaros made four starts and played in 12 games last season. Collaros set the BIG EAST single-game total offense record with 555 yards against Connecticut.
The Bearcats lose All-BIG EAST WR Mardy Gilyard, but return WR Armon Binns, who tied for the conference lead with 11 touchdown receptions in 2009.
RB Isaiah Pead ranked seventh in the BIG EAST in rushing last season (62.0 ypg), but led all regular BIG EAST running backs in yards per carry (6.7).
The returning starters at offensive guard — Jason Kelce and Alex Hoffman — both earned All-BIG EAST Second Team honors last year.
Just one year after it replaced 10 starters on defense, the Bearcats return five starters from the 2009 squad.
LB JK Schaffer was one of five BIG EAST players to finish with at least 100 tackles in 2009.
The Cincinnati defense loses its top three leaders in tackles for loss from last year in DT Curtis Young, DE Ricardo Mathews and DT Alex Daniels.
DE Derek Wolfe was second on the team with five sacks last season.
Kicking specialist Jake Rogers was the BIG EAST’s second-leading scorer among kickers and averaged 41.6 yards per punt.
Cincinnati has had the BIG EAST Special Teams Player of the Year in each of the last three seasons (punter Kevin Huber in 2007, Mardy Gilyard in 2008 and 2009).
|From the BIG EAST Newsstand
|"When the University of Cincinnati Bearcats run onto the field Saturday night at Bulldog Stadium in Fresno, they’ll be glad they refused to concede anything during training camp to Cincinnati’s heat and humidity. The weather forecast for Saturday in Fresno calls for a high of 101 degrees. Fresno State coach Pat Hill almost gleefully pointed out Monday that he expects the temperature to be 98 or 99 degrees for the 7 p.m. kickoff (10 p.m. EDT)."
Fresno State's Hill happy to turn up the heat on Bearcats - Cincinnati Enquirer
|"Butch Jones is ready to get this show on the road, even if it means flying 3,000 miles to California. As next Saturday’s season opener at Fresno State approaches, the first-year University of Cincinnati football coach says he’s “anxious, ready to get going.”
Don't expect Cincinnati's Butch Jones to be Brian Kelly - Cincinnati Enquirer