Midseason review: Cincinnati

Posted by ESPN.com's Brian Bennett

Cincinnati had the best year in school history in 2008, winning 11 games and making it to the Orange Bowl. Who knew that was just a prelude to something bigger?

The Bearcats never got into the top 10 last year, but they're already No. 5 in the first BCS standings. While last season, fans dreamed of getting to a BCS game, this year they're hoping for a national championship.

And it's not just a pipe dream. Cincinnati has one of the best offenses in the country, averaging 40.7 points per game and surprisingly, one of the toughest defenses in the land, too. The Bearcats have won all three of their road games by double digits. They have the best coach and best quarterback in the conference, and an advantageous schedule in the second half. Clearly, there are no limits to what this program can accomplish the rest of the way.

Offensive MVP: Tony Pike. The senior quarterback is also the MVP of the Big East and a serious Heisman contender. He's completed 64 percent of his passes for 1,633 yards and 15 touchdowns with just three interceptions. He'll have to deal, though, with another cast on his left arm after he hurt it for the second straight year at South Florida.

Defensive MVP: Aaron Webster. The lone returning starter from last year's defense has been a true leader for this unit. Webster is second in the Big East with three interceptions and has anchored a young secondary.