Featured Video from Scott Reichel
The Cincinnati Bearcats host the Temple Owls Saturday night with a chance to clinch an outright win of the American Athletic Conference East division. Cincinnati won its eighth straight game over the weekend with a 20-17 road victory over South Florida. Trailing 17-7 late in the third quarter, the Bearcats mounted a comeback that culminated in a 37-yard game-winning field goal as time expired. Cincinnati holds a two-game lead in the division standings over Temple and UCF.
Field goals were the name of the game for Temple as well. Sophomore kicker Will Mobley nailed three field goals to lead the Owls to a 29-21 home win over Tulane. Temple scored its most points in a game since it upset Memphis 30-28 in mid-October. The Owls jumped out to a 22-7 lead but led Tulane cut the lead to one possession with about seven minutes to go in the game. Temple's defense stepped up two drives in a row by forcing a pair of turnover on downs to seal the win.
Temple seeks third straight winAfter being blown out by SMU and UCF in back-to-back games, Temple has responded nicely with a pair of wins that ensured they'll make a bowl game in head coach Rod Carey's first year with the program. The Owls have buckled down on defense the last few weeks, though it could also be the result of playing some weaker competition. Temple ranks fourth in scoring defense in the AAC and has its hands full slowing down Cincinnati.
The Owls have stuck with junior Anthony Russo at quarterback this season despite some ups and downs. Russo has thrown four touchdowns to four interceptions over the last three games. He'll need to be sharp against a Cincinnati pass defense that leads the league with 13 picks. Temple's rushing attack won't turn heads, but freshman Re'Mahn Davis is quietly putting together a solid debut season. The San Francisco native has 724 yards on the ground and five rushing touchdowns.
The Temple defense will make or break this spread. The unit held USF to seven points on the road and looked decent against Tulane despite giving up three touchdowns. When Temple has had to play top tier AAC offenses like Memphis, UCF, and SMU, it's been a different story. The Owls allowed 45.3 points per game against those three teams. As for individual play makers, cornerback Harrison Hand is a turnover threat with three interceptions and a forced fumble.
Bearcats look to clinch AAC East divisionIn his third year at Cincinnati, head coach Luke Fickell has the program in the national conversation. Winners of eight in a row, the Bearcats will look to use Saturday's matchup against Temple as a warm-up before they'll possibly have to play Memphis two games in a row. UC has a good grip on the AAC East division and can clinch a spot in the conference playoff game with a win. Memphis may have to win out to face UC (including beating the Bearcats at home) to win the West division. For now, though, UC's focus should be solely on beating an over-performing Temple squad.
The Bearcats won't surprise Temple with its offensive game plan. They like to run the ball upwards of 40+ times a game. Junior back Michael Warren II has 833 yards and 10 touchdowns on the ground, while sophomore quarterback Desmond Ridder is liable to run the ball 10-12 times per game. Ridder, a dual-threat quarterback, has 1,774 passing yards and 17 touchdowns through the air. He's also thrown seven interceptions.
UC's defense leads the conference in points allowed per game (20.9). The Bearcats' only real defensive letdown was a 42-0 road loss to Ohio State in the second week of the season. With that said, UC struggles at stopping the pass. The defense ranks ninth in the AAC in passing yards allowed per game (231.4). The top secondary member may be sophomore safety Ja'von Hicks, who has four interceptions and two forced fumbles.
- Bearcats are 5-1 ATS in their last six home games.
- Bearcats are 4-1 ATS in their last five games on fieldturf.
The top supporting trends for this game, found on covers.com, are:
- Owls are 1-4 ATS in their last five road games vs. a team with a winning home record.
- Owls are 1-4 ATS in their last five road games.
The Bottom Line What to bet on this game.
Full-Game Side Bet
The Cincinnati Bearcats have been unstoppable against every opponent this season not named Ohio State. UC should take care of business at home vs. Temple and cover as long as it doesn't get caught looking ahead to a big matchup against Memphis next weekend. Dual-threat quarterback Desmond Ridder gives the Bearcats options on the ground and through the air that Temple simply isn't ready for. The Owls have struggled defensively against the top echelon of AAC teams, which UC is one of.
Prediction: Cincinnati Bearcats -10.5
Full-Game Total Pick
Cincinnati and Temple both boast respectable defenses by AAC standards. In fact, the Bearcats allow fewer points than any other team in the conference. That's a contributing reason as to why UC's last five home games have all gone under. The under is also 4-0 in Temple's last four games in November. Expect this one to be a defensive struggle.
Prediction: Under 45.5