AAC Title Pick: Cincinnati Bearcats vs. Memphis Tigers
Cincinnati Bearcats (10-2 SU, 7-5 ATS) vs. Memphis Tigers (11-1 SU, 8-4 ATS)
When: Saturday, December 7, 3:30 p.m. EST
Where: Liberty Bowl Memorial Stadium, Memphis, Tenn.
Point Spread: CIN +9.5/MEM -9.5 (Bookmaker)
Total: O/U 57.5
OutlookWell, here we go again, as these teams met last week and now get another shot at each other in the exact same stadium as the first one. The line has shifted in accordance with last week’s game, which saw Memphis defeat Cincinnati by a 34-24 margin. However, rematches in a conference championship game tend not to go the same way the first one did. Middle Tennessee can speak to that experience, as it got to host UAB twice and lost the game that really mattered after winning the regular season encounter. This time, both teams will be trying to slightly alter their game plan as far as what worked and what didn’t, and for Cincinnati, that mainly means not beating itself. The Bearcats got off to a bad start by allowing the opening kickoff to be taken back for a touchdown, and they shot themselves in the foot with three turnovers to Memphis’ one. If they clean up those mistakes, they could easily pull a win in the rematch and possibly steal Memphis’ Cotton Bowl berth.
How the Public is Betting the Cincinnati/Memphis GameThe line has not budged an inch, with both the total and the spread holding steady.
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Cincinnati: Quarterback Desmond Ridder is expected to play after missing last week’s game with a shoulder injury.
Memphis reports no new injuries since September.
When Cincinnati Has the Ball
Here’s the X-factor that the Bearcats didn’t have the first time: Ridder finally took a week off to get his shoulder back on track after barely being able to throw the ball in his previous two games, and while Ben Bryant performed admirably in relief, Ridder is the better option for Cincinnati. Even with Ridder in the lineup, Michael Warren II is the foundation of Cincinnati’s offense and will be depended on to pound the rock after gaining 122 yards on the ground a week ago. The main thing that Ridder will need to do that Bryant could not, is take care of the football. Bryant lost one fumble, put two other balls on the turf that his teammates recovered and tossed two interceptions to lose the turnover battle. If Ridder can avoid that, Cincinnati is in much better shape.
When Memphis Has the Ball
Brady White didn’t do a lot against the Bearcats in the first game, but he did enough with two touchdowns against just one pick. Most of his aerial hookups were to Damonte Coxie, who hauled in six passes for 145 yards and will have to be a focal point for Cincinnati in this contest. The running game was where Memphis did a lot of its damage, as Kenneth Gainwell led all Tiger backs with 87 rushing yards out of the 199 Memphis picked up on the ground. The Tigers won in all three aspects of the game last week, but they’ll need to find a spark similar to the kickoff return touchdown to get themselves on the front foot in this game.
Memphis has been fairly reliable at home, covering in eight of their past ten games in the Liberty Bowl, but one of those two spread losses was Cincinnati, as the Bearcats hung around to stay within the line. Memphis has done a good job of bouncing back after such a result, though, winning ATS in five of six after an ATS loss.
Meanwhile, for the over/under, something will have to give. Memphis has gone over the total in seven of its past nine contests, while Cincinnati has kept things under in its previous four games and has done it in 21 of its last 27 games as an underdog.
With a high of 56 and moderate cloud coverage, this should be a great day to play football.
Dan’s Pick to Cover the Spread
The Tigers might have done this once, but they didn’t manage to cover in the contest, as they couldn’t beat the nearly two touchdowns handed to the Bearcats even with a kickoff return for a touchdown. Cincinnati nearly played Memphis punch for punch in the first meeting, and if not for the opening kickoff, momentum might have shifted to Cincinnati and given the Bearcats the win.
It’s hard to beat a team twice in consecutive weeks, and something tells me that Memphis is going to have its problems with adjusting to a different quarterback in this contest. The Tigers might well get the win and the Cotton Bowl bid, but I’m going with the Bearcats to stay close enough to get the cover.