We've got a matchup of two ranked teams here as the #14 Cincinnati Bearcats host the #22 Army Black Knights. Army is 2-0, while Cincinnati is 1-0 following their season-opening win over Austin Peay. Even though Army is ranked they aren't getting too much respect from oddsmakers, as the Bearcats have been installed as a two-touchdown favorite.
The line has stayed flat for this contest all week as Cincinnati was a 13-point favorite when the lines opened and they have stayed there. A couple sportsbooks have the Bearcats at -13.5 points. 67 percent of the bets ATS are coming in on Army. 68 percent of the bets on the moneyline are favoring Cincinnati.
The over/under began the week at 46 points but has trended down to 45 as the week has gone on. Despite the low total, 68 percent of the bets are on the under.
Game-time Weather: Temperature at kickoff is slated to be in the low-80s with the real-feel temperature in the mid-80s. There will be sunny skies with no precipitation in the forecast. Winds are expected from the south-southwest around eight miles an hour with the wind gusts kicking up to about 10 miles an hour.
Army Gets RankedCould this be Army's year? They've received more preseason hype than in any season in recent memory, and enter this one ranked #22 in the latest AP poll. They're 2-0 on the year, with opening wins over Middle Tennessee State and Louisiana Monroe. Neither of those teams are great of course but Army absolutely pummeled them, winning by a combined score of 79-7. Both of those teams are FBS schools, while Cincinnati has only played one FCS team. Obviously, Army is an option team, so their ground game will be the key here. So far they're averaging a robust 6.1 yards per carry, and they might have one crucial advantage.
Preparing for option teams is hard enough during normal times, but the heavily reduced offseason due to COVID-19 appears to have made things much more difficult. Teams didn't really have much time to practice at all, let alone run extensive prep for option teams that are very complex to defend. Defenses are going to be slow to adjust, and there could be some value still backing option teams in the early weeks. Their offense aside, Army's defense has also been fantastic. They've given up only one total score through two games, and they incredibly held both teams to 200 yards or fewer of total offense.
No Injuries Reported.
Cincy Has Big InjuryCincinnati had a great regular season last year but they came up short twice against Memphis at the end of the schedule, giving them a chip on their shoulder entering this campaign. They've got high expectations for a non-Power 5 school, and enter this one ranked 14th in the depleted AP poll. They're 1-0 on the year, but I'm not sure we can draw too many conclusions from their 55-20 win over Austin Peay. In fact, I think there are actually some things to be concerned about from that game. Austin Peay is an FCS school and Cincinnati didn't exactly look dominant on either side of the ball.
They allowed Austin Peay to rack up 140 yards rushing, which could be a bad sign heading into this game against run-heavy Army. It also would've been nice for Cincy to get in a game or two against a real FBS opponent before having to face a ranked team, as they could still be rusty. The biggest concern is on offense though, as the Bearcats just announced receiver Alec Pierce will miss several weeks with a knee injury. Pierce led the team in receiving last year, so it certainly won't be a small absence. The Bearcats haven't done a good job beating expectations in games they're supposed to win, as they're just 2-5 against the spread in their last seven games as favorites.
OUT: WR Alec Pierce
- 2-5 ATS in their last 7 games as a favorite
Black Knights are:
- 5-2 ATS in their last 7 games overall
- 15-5-1 ATS in their last 21 games in September
The Bottom Line What to bet on this game.
Full-Game Side Bet
Getting two touchdowns here is a steal. Army always has an early-season advantage over teams, as evidenced by their 15-5-1 ATS record in their last 21 games in September. That edge should be even bigger than usual this year, since teams didn't have any time to prepare for an option offense. Cincinnati has only played on FCS team, so I think they will be a little caught off guard. Army has dominated their first two opponents, so their confidence has to be sky-high entering this pivotal game. They're going to cover this spread, and it wouldn't shock me if they won this game outright.
Prediction: Army +14
Full-Game Total Pick
I also like the under in this spot. Obviously Army plays a run-first style of offense, which keeps the clock running virtually all the time. They like to play especially slow in games like this, and the under is 12-4 in their last 16 as a road underdog. Army's defense has also been fantastic, only giving up seven total points through two games. Cincinnati will also be without their leading receiver from last year in Alec Pierce, which is a massive blow to their offense. This one should be a snoozefest.