Allstate Sugar Bowl Preview and Pick: Cincinnati Bearcats vs. Florida Gators – Point Spread

Allstate Sugar Bowl
No. 3 Cincinnati Bearcats (12-0)(6-6 ATS) v. No. 5 Florida Gators (12-1)(6-6 ATS)
January 1, 2010, 8:30 pm ET, Superdome, New Orleans, FOX

by Evergreen of

Point Spread: Cincinnati +11/Florida -11
Over/Under Total: 57

Bet this game at reduced odds -105 when you place your football wagers on Fridahy’s at BetUSA.

Although this years Allstate Sugar Bowl will not crown a national champion, it does feature two teams that were potential title contenders right up to the final weeks of the regular season. The Cincinnati Bearcats and Florida Gators square off in the Superdome on New Years Day in a game that has more juicy story lines than any other game in the BCS.

The Bearcats finished off an undefeated season by squeaking out a 45-44 win against Pitt in the Big East championship game and was a mere second away from the BCS title game before a Texas field goal sent the Longhorns instead. Since that kick cleared the uprights, Cincinnati has lost Coach Brian Kelly to Notre Dame, a move that was less than well received by many players. Jeff Quinn was promoted to interim coach, but Butch Jones was hired away from Central Michigan later in the week. Quinn was awarded the head spot at Buffalo in the mean time, but will be on the sidelines to run the no huddle system for the bowl game. It remains to be seen what affect, if any, the coaching turmoil will have on the Bearcat players as they try to upset the Gators and prove they truly belong in the upper tier of college teams.

The Florida season was going as planned until the SEC Championship game where the Crimson Tide bumped the Gators out of the title game by a 32-13 margin. Tim Tebow will be playing his last collegiate game and no matter what his professional career looks like, he will look to go out a winner and put an exclamation point on one of the best resumes in all of amateur athletics. Urban Meyer cannot be happy that the Gators are not facing Texas and may take out his frustration on the Bearcats.

Vegas opened this game with Florida as a 10 point favorite, but most online sportsbooks have moved the line to 11 or 11.5 by now. Cincy is on the money line at +335 to +355 with the Gators at -425 or so and the over/under total for the game is most typically at 57.

Cincinnati brings the nations 6th best passing attack to the Sugar Bowl, averaging 320 yards per contest through the air and also ranks 6th with 39.8 points scored. The Bearcats average another 144 yards on the ground with the running backs also making plays in the pass game. Defensively, Cincy is average in terms of yards allowed per game ranking just inside the top-50 overall, but do a good job of limiting the damage, giving up only 20.8 on average, good for 24th in the NCAA.

Tony Pike missed some time to injury in the season, but is back to full strength and finished the regular season hitting on nearly 63% of his passes for 2,350 yards and 26 scores against just 6 picks. Mardy Gilyard is among the best in the country at the wide receiver spot, grabbing 80 balls on the year, 11 for touchdowns. Armon Binns added another 10 scores on 56 receptions, giving the Bearcats a 1-2 punch that will test the Gator pass defense throughout the game. Isaiah Pead is good runner, averaging 6.6 yards per carry and led the team with 9 rushing scores.

The Florida offense is a bit more balanced overall, but is most effective on the ground where the Gators average a 10th best, 225 rushing yards per game. The aerial attack takes advantage when the opposition sells out to stop the run and Florida converts to the tune of 34.7 points per game. The Gator defense has a clear statistical advantage coming in, allowing the third fewest passing yards and points through the season. The Bearcat offense may be the most dynamic the Gators will see this year, but the reinstatement of DE Carlos Dunlap will help Florida in its scheme to shutdown Cincy.

Its no secret that everything begins and ends with Tim Tebow. The Gator QB threw for 2,413 yards, rushed for 859 more and totaled 31 combined scores. Jeffery Demps will tote the rock when Tebow doesnt and averaged 7.7 yards a carry on the way to 738 yards on the season and 7 touchdowns. Riley Cooper leads the team with 780 receiving yards and 8 scores and look for TE Aaron Hernandez to get loose down the seam.

Cincinnati is reporting no significant injuries heading into the game, but Florida will be without their playmaking kick returner Brandon James, out with a foot injury. Additionally, the Gators report LB A.J. Jones as questionable with a knee injury.

Looking at the trends, Florida has shown up well in bowl games, going 4-1 against the spread in the last five years, but Cincinnati loves the underdog role, going 10-1-1 ATS in the last 12 games where they got points. The Bearcats are currently riding a 4 game losing streak against the spread.

Evergreens Pick: Who knows how much the distractions will affect the Bearcats, but I do know that Tebow and Meyer are none too impressed that they are not going for a BCS title. Meyer has been accused of running it up against other teams and will hang half a hundred on Cincy if he can. Couple that with the fact that Florida likely cant keep Cincinnati off the board all together and I like the over. Id take Florida and lay the points if I had to as I just cant see any scenario where the Gators let Tebow go out any other way than with a storybook finish. Florida 45 Cincinnati 20.