Cincinnati has played just two games this season, after two bye weekends this month. But one of those wins was a 34-10 domination of Pittsburgh.
That win raised eyebrows especially when the Panthers took care of Virginia Tech the following week. The Hokies rebounded against Bowling Green, but see Saturday's game against the Bearcats as a way to show they've truly come back from that loss.
"We keep saying that the Pitt game was a fluke and all that," senior linebacker Bruce Taylor said. "But I guess a good way to prove it would be to go out and play well against Cincinnati."
Saturday will also give Virginia Tech its first look at a spread offense this season. Bearcats quarterback Munchie Legaux should give the Hokies a good challenge as they'll also face spread offenses from North Carolina and Clemson.
"Right now, they've got the guy, Munchie, he's more of a mobile guy, a dual-threat guy," Taylor said. "You have to play to your players. They're not gonna just have him sitting in the pocket all day because they know that's not his strength or he can make plays with his feet as well."
If Legaux decides to tuck it and run, Taylor said he'll be ready.
"We always wanna punish quarterbacks that try to run the ball," Taylor said. "That goes back to trying to make a team one-dimensional. As a coach, if you see a quarterback out there just getting drilled constantly, that's your quarterback. You don't wanna get him beat up, so you're gonna start handing that ball to someone else or you're gonna start passing. It's just something else you can use to try to get a better key for what they're trying to do."
Saturday's win over Bowling Green was a step in the right direction, but Taylor doesn't want to say Virginia Tech is looking like its old self again. Not yet, anyway.
"It definitely felt good to come out and play well, but there were still a bunch of little things we could've done better," Taylor said. "It's never as good as you think it is. Once you go back and watch the film, you seen things like, 'Dang, we could've done this better' or 'We could've corrected this.' Just going out there and trying to play a complete game and until we do that, we can always be better."