- Matt Fortuna, ESPN Staff Writer
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Brendon Kay was Cincinnati's starting quarterback this past weekend at Temple and did a good job. Kay will be the Bearcats' starting signal caller this Saturday against Rutgers with a chance to really complicate the Big East title race.
But to forget about the man whose job he took would be short-sighted, Butch Jones said, and so the third-year coach is not questioning his decision to start Munchie Legaux eight times this season.
"I will tell you this: I know how people talk. I think in society everyone is concerned with the end results: who’s going to be the Big East champion, who’s going to play in the national championship game, what if Brendon Kay would have been playing the whole season," Jones said. "Well I’ll tell you this: nobody felt that way after Week 3 when Munchie Legaux stood in the pocket with the fierce pass rush from Virginia Tech and threw the ball deep to win the football game. I don’t believe in should of, would of, could ofs."
Kay will be facing a Scarlet Knights defense that is ranked second in the conference and is the backbone of the only team yet to lose a Big East game. Replicating his line of 315 total yards from this past weekend will be a tough task for the fifth-year senior, but a similar performance could send the Big East into a three-way first-place tie with two games remaining.
Cincinnati needs to win out and hope that Rutgers then beats Louisville when those two meet in their regular-season finale, while the Scarlet Knights simply control their own destiny.
"It's not scary," Rutgers linebacker Khaseem Greene said. "We just know what's at stake. We know what is in front of us. And because of our past experiences, we know how it feels to not accomplish it and we know how it feels to do all the wrong things to take ourselves out of that, and that keeps us humble and that keeps us focused."
A victory would, at the very least, give Cincinnati the inside track on a share of its fourth conference title of the last five years.
"It’s all about winning championships," Jones said. "Make no mistake about it. To say you’re No. 1, to say you’re the best. We’re all competitors. We talk about being great competitors with great competitive spirits and drives. That’s what it’s all about. Again, these last three games are playoff games. We said it two weeks prior to today. We’re starting a five game playoff. Well now we’re down to four, now we’re down to three."
Nippert Stadium has been a house of horrors lately for Rutgers, which saw its Big East title hopes get dealt a serious blow there six years ago in its first defeat of the season.
The Scarlet Knights have not won at Cincinnati since 1987.
"Any time you go on the road, there are unique challenges," coach Kyle Flood said. "But the challenges are to me, based on the people that you're playing, not really the building. There's always a crowd advantage. There will be a spirited crowd there on Saturday. And those are things we'll have to deal with as an offense more than anything. But the building itself, I don't concern myself with that."
2dSharon Katz, ESPN Stats & Information
3dTom VanHaaren and Erik McKinney