Dual-threat quarterbacks have been a problem for the Syracuse University football team since last season.
If the Orange (4-4 overall, 3-1 Big East) is to win its third straight game and raise its record above .500 for the first time all year today, it will have to go through another.
Syracuse plays at noon at Cincinnati (5-2, 1-1) in a game that would likely take the loser out of contention for the Big East championship. It will be televised on the Big East Network and Time Warner Sports, channel 19.
The Orange is coming off the biggest comeback win in program history, erasing a 20-point halftime deficit to beat South Florida last Saturday, 37-36, when quarterback Ryan Nassib hit Alec Lemon for the game-winning touchdown with three seconds left.
But in the process, Syracuse allowed South Florida quarterback B.J. Daniels to run for 134 yards on 12 carries.
Bearcats quarterback Munchie Legaux is putting up 42 rushing yards per game, and is tied for the team lead with four rushing touchdowns.
Legaux, whose starting spot was in question after throwing three interceptions in Cincinnatis overtime loss to Louisville on Oct. 26, was given a vote of confidence by head coach Butch Jones this week.
Hes coming in with a lot of scrutiny, which I think is unfair, Syracuse coach Doug Marrone said. I think hes an excellent quarterback, both running the football and throwing it. So, well have our hands full trying to stop him, especially after last weeks performance.
Syracuse had allowed an average of 34 yards on the ground in its first three conference games, but last week, it gave up 369 yards to the Bulls. Daniels and halfback Lindsey Lamar became the first two 100-yard rushers against Syracuse this year.
Last season, the Orange struggled against scrambling quarterbacks in losses to South Florida with Daniels, Cincinnati with Legaux, and Louisville with Teddy Bridgwater, which will play at Syracuse next Saturday. It gave up at least 27 points in each of those three games.
For Syracuse today, stopping the Bearcats ground game will take more than limiting Legaux.
Halfback George Winn is second in the Big East with 104.6 rushing yards per game. He averages over six yards per carry and is tied with Legaux for a team-high four rushing touchdowns.
Overall, Cincinnati leads the conference with 221.4 rushing yards per game, and is second to Syracuse in total offense.
Cincinnati has threats all over the field, Marrone said.
Our defense has a great challenge to get them contained, I dont know if you can stop them, he added.
Offensively, as he has all season, Marrone said that the key will be protecting the football.
In its two straight wins, the Orange has not committed a turnover. Overall, Syracuse has two turnovers in its four wins and 13 in its four losses.
Weve been winning the turnover margin which has given us the ability to win football games, Marrone said. When you dont win that, what you do is youve taken away the ability to win, and youve lost the game, basically, on the turnovers.
Charged Pitt players to play
Three Pitt football players, including starting running back Ray Graham, will play on Saturday against No. 4 Notre Dame despite being charged with simple assault and conspiracy in connection with an incident last month involving three other students.
Graham, junior wide receiver Devin Street and redshirt freshman defensive back Lafayette Pitts deny they were involved in a confrontation with a student who told police he was hit in the head by one of the players.
Online court records dont list attorneys for the players charged in the complaint filed by city police on Thursday. The players were not arrested but have been mailed summonses to appear in Pittsburgh Municipal Court for a preliminary hearing on the charges Jan. 9.
Graham, of Elizabeth, N.J., is the Panthers leading rusher with 622 yards and seven touchdowns. Street, of Bethlehem, Pa., is the teams leading receiver with 50 catches for 695 yards and four scores. Pitts, of East Pittsburgh, is also the teams top kick-returner.
School spokesman E.J. Borghetti said in a statement the players have offered to speak with police but have not been questioned or received any court documents.
We take matters of player discipline very seriously and will continue to cooperate with any investigation, Borghetti said. However, we will not, and hope others will not, rush to judgment on these misdemeanor allegations. All three players will remain active members of our program while we gain more clarity on this situation.
According to the complaint, Karl Olsheski, Diana Olsheski and Samantha Mitchell told police they were walking along a street in Oakland, the neighborhood where the university is located, when a group of Pitt football players walked into their path from the opposite direction about 12:30 a.m. Oct. 21.
At the time, Karl Olsheski told police he didnt want to see the players arrested, but did want police to stop the group so they wouldnt repeat their aggressions at other pedestrians, a criminal complaint said.
Police dispersed the groups and Olsheski and the females returned to a city police station that afternoon to report the incident in more detail. At that time, Diana Olsheski told police she recognized the players as Graham, Street and Pitts.
Karl Olsheski told police that Graham confronted him by saying, Whats up? along with a racial slur. Olsheski said he tried to walk away but that Graham and Street blocked his way and Pitts kept him from retreating.
Olsheski stated that shortly thereafter, he was struck one time on the left side of his head by Mr. Street.
Police tried to ensure the students identified the correct players by having them look at photo lineups. While none of the alleged victims could recognize all three players, each player was recognized by at least one, including Mitchell who recognized Street from a class they took together on vampires.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.