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So we meet again! The Cincinnati Bearcats will begin the season hosting the UCLA Bruins on Thursday night, as the two teams meet again to start the 2019 campaign as they did a year ago.
The Bruins come into this season with much loftier expectations to follow up their dismal 3 – 9 season under Chip Kelly. The highly revered offensive-minded head coach will have 9 starters back this season to work with, while their defense brings back 10 starters as well.
The Bearcats are following up their 11 – 2 2018 season as Luke Fickell enters his third year in Cincinnati. Coach Fickell had his defense among the nation’s best a season ago, and he will have 7 starters returning on both sides of the ball for 2019.
The Bruins open the season on the road for a rematch of last year’s opener with Cincy
Last season, the Bruins welcomed the Bearcats to the Rose Bowl to open 2018, and Cincinnati left California with a 26 – 17 road win that propelled them to a 6 – 0 start to the year.
— UCLA Athletics (@UCLAAthletics) August 22, 2019
The loss for the Bruins led to an 0 – 5 start in Chip Kelly‘s first season with UCLA, and obviously, the 3 – 9 record tells you all you need to know about the rest of the 2018 campaign.
Sophomore QB Dorian Thompson-Robinson is slated to be the guy running Kelly’s offense this year, and he has nearly everyone back around him to prepare for this season. DTR made 8 starts as a true freshman last year and accumulated 1,311 passing yards to go with a 7 – 4 TD / INT ratio.
A shoulder injury left DTR basically watching the last 5 games last season, but with Wilson Speight no longer with the Bruins the job is his to win in 2019.
With 10 starters back on defense, that can be seen as more of a concern than anything else. The Bruins defense spent a lot of time on the field last year and it certainly has me asking myself if having that unit back intact is a good thing, or not.
Bearcats enter 2019 among the AAC’s top teams
After an 11 – 2 season and a schedule that looks rather navigable, the Bearcats have set their expectations to win the AAC Eastern Divison and remove UCF from their perch.
Don't miss out on joining the @BearcatsRuckus!
— Cincinnati Bearcats (@GoBEARCATS) August 26, 2019
Even though Central Florida still has the odds to win the AAC East, the Bearcats aren’t far behind them and certainly have the team they want to compete with.
Coach Fickell was the AAC Coach of the Year as a result of their success last season, and his defensive-minded approach will not change one bit! Many are calling for Cincy to have the best defense in the AAC, and we all know what a strong defense can do for any program in the country.
Sophomore QB Desmond Ridder earned 3rd team All-AAC honors as a freshman, and in 12 starts he threw down 2,445 passing yards, completed 62% of his passes to go along with a 20 – 5 TD / INT ratio. He scooted for nearly 600 yards on the ground as well, making him useful when the pocket breaks down.
The only major concern this team might face this year is the youth on the defensive front line, although this LB and DB core is returning everyone to ease the process.
“[We] really had a lot of great things happening here. Growth from all of our team…. I think the next step now is to play ball – it’s that time.” Coach Fickell on the start of the season.
- Under is 16-5 in Bearcats last 21 Thursday games.
- Bruins are 6-13 ATS in their last 19 road games.
- Bruins are 2-10 ATS in their last 12 non-conference games.
- Bruins are 1-5 ATS in their last 6 games on fieldturf.
Updated on Aug 29 at 10:30am EDT
Update prepared by our editoral staff
Public Money / Line Movements
The Bearcats have gone from -4 down to -2.5 despite getting 51% of the bets. The Sharps are clearly on the side of the Bruins in this one.
Injury / Weather Report
UCLA’s Impact Injury Report
Questionable: KB Keisean Lucier-South, WR Michael Ezeike & WR Dymond Lee
Out: LB Bo Calvert (Suspension) and LB Tyree Thompson
Cincinnati’s Impact Injury Report
Doubtful: WR Malick Mbodj
Out: Safety James Wiggins and RB Charles McClelland (Eligibility)
The Bottom Line What to bet on this game.
Full-Game Side Bet
Cincinnati at home laying a measly field goal is just too much to leave without the action on it.
Chip Kelly and UCLA on the road is the scariest proposition in college football, and with all that experience back for the Bearcats? One word comes to mind… SOLD!
I cannot fathom the Bruins going into a place where the home team has taken 17 straight home-openers as the Bearcats have done.
Grab the chalk, and write out a cashed ticket on the Bearcats and the field goal at -3.
Prediction: Cincinnati -3
Full-Game Total Pick
ONE STAR! I mean listen, I just can’t look at a Cincy total at 60 and whole-heartedly suggest the Over to anyone.
UCLA is supposedly going to have their offense all invigorated to have a big season, but I am going to have to see it happen before I put a big play on their totals.
This could be a similar score to last year where they barely broke 40, so play it small or just stay away from this total all-together. There will be much better opportunities than this total throughout the year, so just lean on it and we’ll see how it goes.
Prediction: Under 60