The halfway point of the 2021 college football season is already here as conference play begins to ramp up across the country. In the American Athletic Conference, the #6 Bearcats lead the way as they’re widely considered the best chance a group of five teams has had to make the CFP since its inception.
Can they continue to take steps in that direction as conference play begins?
Let’s take a closer look.
- Opening Line: Cincinnati -28, O/U 54
- Current Line: Cincinnati -29, O/U 54
The Bearcats open AAC play Friday night at home, one week removed from one of their biggest wins in recent memory on the road at Notre Dame. Covering as 3-point favorites, the Bearcats are now 3-1 ATS on the season and once again proved they can get it done on both sides of the ball.
Led by a quarterback and Heisman hopeful Desmond Ridder, who has 9 touchdowns and 1,045 yards to go along with just 2 interceptions, the Bearcats now must handle business within their own conference to have a shot at the much-coveted CFP selection.
For the visiting Owls, a rough start 0-17 last week vs. Memphis was followed up by a flurry of offensive activity, tying the game just before the half before going on to win 34-31. Sophomore quarterback D’Wan Mathis had his best game of the season, as the Georgia transfer finished the day with 322 yards and a touchdown to interception ratio of 3:0.
In total this season, the Owls have clawed their way to a record of 3-2 despite a total point differential of -14, as some beat downs on Akron and Wagner have certainly helped their bottom line.
- Owls 5-2 ATS in L7 vs. teams with winning records
- Owls 5-0 ATS in L5 vs. Bearcats
Despite this being a perfect spot for a letdown from the surging Bearcats, I don’t see where the firepower comes from on the Owls to carry it through. While Mathis has been adequate through his starts this season, this team still lacks a run game to speak of and is allowing nearly 5 yards per play on average.
While we may see a concerted effort early given these two’s familiarity with one another, I like for Cinci to roll late and for this to turn into a game Ridder pads his stats in before it’s all said and done.
Pick: Bearcats -29
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