NEW ORLEANS -- In the end, it might not have made much difference to the outcome of the game. But Cincinnati players can admit now that they may not have taken the most businesslike approach to last year's Orange Bowl.
It was the first time the program had ever reached a BCS game, and the royal treatment afforded to the team -- from a salute on the airport tarmac to police escorts everywhere they went to the lush accommodations on Miami Beach -- may have proved a little overwhelming.
"Last year, we didn't know what to expect, what kind of hype there would be," linebacker Craig Carey said. "We were almost kind of in awe of the whole situation and everything that goes with a BCS game. I wouldn't say we partied, but people really enjoyed themselves. "
Not so this year. Now in their second straight BCS game, the Bearcats arrived in New Orleans knowing what would await them. And there's not as much glitz at the Allstate Sugar Bowl. Last year, they stayed in the luxurious Fontainebleau hotel and spotted celebrities like Jamie Foxx and P. Diddy wandering around. This year, they're in a more modest Marriott downtown, and apart from taking a stroll through the French Quarter on Sunday night, they haven't partaken in too many leisure activities.
And the players say that's leading to more focused preparation than before last year's game against Virginia Tech, which they lost 20-7.
"We're able to be more spearheaded on the task at hand instead of all the other things around," linebacker Andre Revels said.
The biggest thing the Bearcats learned last year is it doesn't matter how much fun you have during bowl week if you don't come home with the victory. That loss to Virginia Tech is a large part of what drove them to perfection all season.
"We've got a little chip on our shoulders from last year's game," linebacker JK Schaffer said. "We're really here to win this game."