- Associated Press - Friday, October 10, 2014

MIAMI GARDENS, Fla. (AP) - Tommy Tuberville will see Miami football like never before on Saturday.

Tuberville has three national championship rings from his eight seasons with the Hurricanes, an assistant between 1986 and 1993. He’s still revered by a good portion of Miami’s fan base, has been widely mentioned as a candidate during previous head-coaching searches by the Hurricanes and continues to speak fondly of the school.

And now, he’ll look to beat Miami.

Tuberville and the Cincinnati Bearcats (2-2) visit the Hurricanes (3-3) on Saturday, a midseason nonconference matchup and the first meeting between the schools since 1998.

It’s the first time Tuberville will coach against Miami since leaving the school more than two decades ago.

“The thing about the University of Miami is they’ve never backed down from playing good football schedules,” Tuberville said. “They’ve gone and played and competed and competed each year and this is another one of those years.”

The game was thought of a few weeks ago as a potential matchup between two quarterbacks with pretty good numbers, with Cincinnati’s Gunner Kiel matching wits with Miami’s Brad Kaaya.

But Kiel’s status is unknown because of sore ribs, and the Bearcats aren’t likely to announce a starter before Saturday morning.

“I’ve always been a big fan of that guy,” said Kaaya, who as a high school sophomore caught passes from Kiel at an Elite 11 camp. “He can really throw the ball. He can really rip. I looked up to guys like that. I never thought I would be playing against him.”

Kiel is the top-rated passer in the American Athletic Conference, plus is tied for the league lead with 15 touchdown passes. If he can’t go, Munchie Legaux - who is 10-6 when getting extensive game action during his Cincinnati career - is the likely starter.

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Here’s what to watch when Cincinnati visits Miami:

CANE STRUGGLES: Miami hasn’t been under .500 seven games into a season since the probation days of 1997, and needs a win on Saturday to avoid that same fate. The Hurricanes are 11-1 in their last 12 home games. “It’s really not about what anybody else’s expectations are and certainly there’s a lot of things that we need to improve and better improve as we evolve this year,” said Hurricanes coach Al Golden, who is taking plenty of heat from a faction of the Miami fan base these days.

WELCOME BACK: Cincinnati hasn’t faced Miami in a generation, but the Bearcats have been to Sun Life Stadium in the not-too-distant past. Cincinnati appeared in the Orange Bowl after the 2008 season, grabbing an early lead but ultimately falling 20-7 to Virginia Tech. Plus, the Bearcats - who recruit South Florida extensively, just like practically every other program in the country - have eight players who grew up in the Miami area.

DUKE WATCH: Miami RB Duke Johnson’s season has been strong through six games, though he figures to face a bit of a test from Cincinnati’s defensive front. The Bearcats have given up just two rushes exceeding 25 yards all season. Johnson comes into the weekend second among Atlantic Coast Conference backs with 625 rushing yards, and is on pace to be the second Miami runner in the last 12 seasons to average more than 100 yards on the ground per game. Lamar Miller averaged 106 per game in 2011; before that, Willis McGahee was the last ‘Cane with a triple-digit average, doing so in 2002.

AAC ON THE ROAD: When teams from the American have hit the road this season, it’s been tough sledding. The AAC is 5-16 on the road so far in 2014, and the Bearcats lost 50-28 at Ohio State in their only away game to date. ACC teams are 35-11 at home, with Miami one of seven league members still unbeaten in those games.

BIG TACKLERS: One-time Miami recruit Jeff Luc leads the nation with 15.5 tackles per game for Cincinnati from his linebacker spot, and DB Zack Edwards has been credited with 12.5 tackles per game for the Bearcats. Denzel Perryman leads Miami with 45 tackles, with nine - his second-best total of the season - coming in last week’s loss at Georgia Tech.

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