7:46 PM ET, September 6, 2007
Nippert Stadium, Cincinnati, OH
CINCINNATI (AP) -- Students rattled the metal signs on the facing of the end zone bleachers while their black-uniformed Bearcats jogged off the field with arms raised in triumph.
The way these Bearcats are playing, this could be just the start of the racket.
Freshman Marcus Barnett caught a touchdown pass and recovered a blocked punt in the end zone, helping Cincinnati turn Oregon State's mistakes into a 34-3 victory Thursday night.
The Bearcats (2-0) got a signature win for first-year coach Brian Kelly, who has installed a wide-open, no-huddle offense and tried to inject excitement into a football program that is treated like an afterthought locally.
Already, they've made an impression on both coasts.
"We wanted to show everybody our ability, let them know what we can do," Barnett said. "We're here!"
By dominating a team getting votes in the Top 25 poll, the Bearcats took a step toward someday getting themselves into the same position.
"This is a first step in that direction," Kelly said. "It sends the message that the University of Cincinnati needs to be looked at as a Top 25 program. Now, the first coat of paint is on. We're not a finished product."
Oregon State (1-1) got a sideline visit from famous alumni Chad Johnson and T.J. Houshmandzadeh, the Bengals' receiving tandem. It sure didn't help.
"We got totally beaten by a good team," coach Mike Riley said. "They did a nice job. We knew they were fast from the tapes, but at game speed they took it up a couple of notches. They were all over us."
Sophomore Sean Canfield threw interceptions that set up a field goal and Ben Mauk's 5-yard touchdown pass to Barnett, putting Cincinnati up 10-3 at halftime. After the intermission, the Beavers got back to their self-destruction.
"They were really quick," said Canfield, who was 18-of-31 for 131 yards with three interceptions. "They were quick all around. They aren't very big, but give them credit."
Oregon State's Sammie Stroughter, who took a leave of absence during fall football and sat out the opener, tried to fair-catch a punt at his 9-yard line and fumbled. Cincinnati recovered at the 2, and Bradley Glatthaar's run put the Bearcats in control.
Two freshmen took it from there.
Redshirt freshman Jake Rogers kicked a 55-yard field goal, the second-longest in Cincinnati history. In a 59-3 opening win over Southeast Missouri State, Rogers missed two extra points and a field goal, prompting Kelly to suggest he could soon be kicking for the soccer team.
Barnett, also a redshirt freshman, dived on Alexis Serna's blocked punt in the end zone for a 27-3 lead late in the third quarter.
Oregon State had one more gaffe to go.
Canfield's third interception set up Mauk's 50-yard touchdown pass to Greg Moore that ended any thought of a comeback. Mauk was 15-of-23 for 199 yards without an interception.
It was humid and 88 degrees at the kickoff -- unaccustomed conditions for Oregon State, which rarely travels so far from home. The Pac-10 team played only its third game in the Eastern time zone since 1987.
Given how it went, they won't want to return. The Beavers threw six interceptions, missed a field goal and had the punt blocked. The mistakes added up to their most lopsided defeat since a 56-14 loss to Oregon in 2005.
It didn't even help that the Beavers had star power on their side.
Johnson and Houshmandzadeh -- both drafted out of Oregon State in 2001 -- joined them in the second quarter. During a sideline timeout, Johnson wandered over to a Beavers huddle, put his left hand on Stroughter's helmet and shook it gently in support.
So much for that.
Showing no favoritism, the Bengals' receiving duo also spent some time on the Bearcats' sideline. After they switched sides, the Bearcats got rolling. Corey Smith's interception set up the 5-yard touchdown catch by Barnett, who wears No. 85 -- the same as Johnson.
The game drew a crowd of 25,020, roughly 10,000 below capacity. The Bearcats averaged 21,000 last season.