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-- Thursday's a homecoming for Tom O'Brien and several assistant coaches and players.

--  Last year's loss to NC State sent UC reeling; Butch Jones thinks State was the best team they played in 2010:

"They were the better football team that night," said UC coach Butch Jones. "I thought they were physical. They ran the football. They stopped the run. That was an NC State team that we thought was the best team we played last year."

Cincinnati players are looking for payback:

"Last year we struggled offensive line-wise," said senior left tackle Alex Hoffman. "This is a redemption game from last year."

Senior defensive tackle Derek Wolfe has been looking forward to this game from the moment he and his UC teammates walked off the field at Carter-Finley Stadium last year wondering what hit them.

"They talked a lot of trash and said a lot of things," Wolfe said.

-- Butch Jones says NC State physically dominated the Bearcats in 2010.

-- In their last time out, Cincinnati beat Akron 59-14 thanks in part to three defensive touchdowns. The Bearcats lead the nation in takeaways.

-- Is Cincinnati's offensive line giving away too much information prior to the snap?

-- Bearcats defense staying motivated:

Few minced words.

A quick Google search provides the basics: Porous. Frustrating. Horrible.

And that's without diving into the message board cesspool.

In case the defense didn't use the keywords "Bearcats+defense" this week, Butch Jones allowed the Cliff's Notes version.

"Coach Jones makes sure we know," Derek Wolfe said. "He makes sure we know right before practice. I don't know that anything that bad was said --- I knew there was going to be some things. But he made sure we knew."