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AAC action here as the 20th-ranked Cincinnati Bearcats will travel to Philadelphia to take on the Temple Owls. The Bearcats are undefeated, rattling off six straight wins to start the season. The Owls have rebounded a bit, going 4-1 over their last five after starting the season 0-2. It has the makings of a close game, and should be a fun one, televised nationally on ESPNU.
Cincinnati Still Unbeaten
Cincinnati looked like they were headed for a rebuild last year. Instead of rebuilding, they’ve shocked the college football universe by jumping out to a 6-0 record. First they spoiled Chip Kelly’s UCLA debut with a road upset, then rattled off five straight against lesser competition, with all but one of those wins coming by at least 16 points.
It’s been an impressive start to 2018 for the Bearcats, but it’s fair to wonder whether they can keep it up. UCLA clearly isn’t very good this year, and Miami of Ohio, AAMU, Ohio, UConn, and Tulane isn’t exactly a murderers row of opponents. Temple will be their stiffest challenge yet, and they could struggle against an Owl defense that is starting to come on strong.
Behind 174 yards passing from QB Desmond Ridder with a pair of TDs, along with 123 yards rushing and a TD from Michael Warren II, @GoBearcatsFB improves to 6-0 with a 37-21 win over Tulane. #AmericanFB pic.twitter.com/yYtKkuVLAW
— American Football (@American_FB) October 6, 2018
Cincinnati uses a run-first offensive attack on the shoulders of Sophomore running back Michael Warren. They’ll need to get that ground game going if they want to win their seventh game, but Temple has been pretty good against the run, giving up just 3.7 yards per carry.
Temple Finding Their Groove
The Owls had a terrible start to their season, losing to FCS school Villanova. The next week, they lost to a solid Buffalo team. They’ve managed to rescue their season from the brink of disaster by winning four out of their next five and moving to 4-3 on the season. They dominated Maryland in Week 3, and gutted out a win on the road against Navy last week.
They could be without senior running back Ryquell Armstead, who has been the team’s workhorse. Armstead, who’s dealing with an ankle injury, has carried the load all season long for the Bearcats and it would be a massive downgrade to the Owls offense if he is unable to go. On the other hand, he didn’t play against Navy, and the team was still able to win without him. With the week off to rest, it seems more likely than not that he’ll be able to suit up for this one.
What has really turned the season around for Temple has been the stellar play of the defense. After the 0-2 start, they’ve only allowed more than 17 points once, and it was to a Power 5 school in Boston College. They’ve shutdown Maryland, Tulsa, East Carolina, and Navy offensively and if they can stop the run against Cincinnati, they should give up less than 17 once again.
- 21-5 ATS in their last 26 conference games
- 4-0 ATS in their last 4 games following a straight up win
- 12-4 ATS vs. a team with a winning record
- 2-5 ATS in their last 7 games on grass
- 1-4 ATS vs. a team with a winning record
The Bottom Line What to bet on this game.
Full-Game Side Bet
I love Temple here, and think this line will move in their direction, so bet it early. Cincinnati is as phony as an undefeated team could possibly be, with no quality wins. They barely beat a mediocre Ohio team and haven’t faced a single tough opponent the entire year. Their only Power 5 game was against UCLA, who until very recently was winless. I think Temple shuts down their run game and wins this one easily at home.
Prediction: Temple -3.5
Full-Game Total Pick
Temple’s defense has played a lot better recently, and I think they’ll slow down the Bearcats’ offense. The total is simply too high to consider taking the over, especially with Armstead’s status in doubt. Both teams will likely look to run the ball early, and this projects to be a very close game based on the point spread, so don’t expect a lot of catchup throwing.
Half-Time Side Pick
If you like a home team for the full game, it’s hard to not argue for backing them in the first half. All Temple needs to do is be winning by a field goal at halftime here, and I think they’ll do that easily. They should be fired up in front of their home crowd, and come out of the game hot.
Prediction: Temple -2
Half-Time Total Bet
I think this game will start off slowly. Temple will seek to establish the run and control the pace of the game, and the Bearcats’ offense will begin to slow down. Both teams are very familiar with each other, and will spend the first half feeling each other out.
Prediction: Under 24