"Cincinnati is a team that has found ways to win,'' Holgorsen said. "They've been in a lot of close games and the one thing that stands out more than anything is the amount of effort they play with. When you play with that kind of effort, good things happen.''
And when that effort isn't there, the result is two losses in three weeks by a combined 29 points to teams that were each two-touchdown underdogs. Losses like that aren't uncommon in college football these days, but they can usually be traced to something other than simple bad breaks.
"What we're facing now is just reality in college football. It happens every week,'' Holgorsen said. "The latest one is Northwestern going to Nebraska. Who'd have put their money on Northwestern? That's just the reality of college football right now. And the teams that are able to understand that are the ones that win championships.''
Holgorsen was asked if he thought his players, college students all, understand that reality.
"No. I don't think that's the case right now,'' Holgorsen said. "I think there's a lot of guys that just show up and expect to win, based on winning 60 games in six years. And there's a whole bunch of people who think that way who haven't played a down around here.''
Ultimately, of course, getting a team prepared to play both mentally and physically and making sure that players have the right attitude is up to the coaching staff.
"It's a mentality and it's hard. And you've got to find ways to get guys to do it,'' Holgorsen said. "That's our challenge this week. Our challenge is to get guys to play with effort and energy. Whatever we've got to do to find a way to cultivate that, we've got to do it. But I've said that all year. Our job as coaches is to get the guys ready to go.
"That ultimately lands on my shoulders, but there's a whole bunch of people that are in this together.''
Reach Dave Hickman at 304-348-1734 or dphickm...@aol.com.