Cincinnati Bearcats (5-1 SU, 3-3 ATS) vs. No. 16 Louisville Cardinals (7-0 SU, 3-4 ATS)
College Football Week 9
Date/Time: Friday October 26th, 2012. 8:00PM Eastern
Where: Papa John’s Cardinal Stadium Louisville, K.Y.
by Jay, College Football Handicapper, Predictem.com
Point Spread: Cin +4/Lou -4
Over/Under Total: OFF
Charlie Strong’s 16th ranked Louisville Cardinals put their undefeated record on the line this week when the Cincinnati Bearcats roll into town for a Friday night lights spectacle. The Bearcats will visit Louisville fresh off their first loss of the season 29-23 against Toledo last week and looking for redemption. Cincinnati has fared well against the Cardinals winning the last 4 meetings and going 4-2 ATS against Louisville in the last 6 pairings. If those trends hold any weight, the Bearcats will have a chance to hand the Cardinals their first loss of the season when the two teams meet this Friday.
However Coach Strong has proved this is not the normal Louisville football team of year’s past. The Cardinals have been playing fairly well on both sides of the ball and finding ways to win football games just as they did in last week’s 27-25 victory over South Florida. The Cardinals have a defensive reputation that Coach Strong has bestowed in Louisville but the offense has been the difference thus far in 2012. The Cardinals have averaged 32.45 points this year and just over 400 yards per game. Quarterback Teddy Bridgewater has been very impressive hitting 73% of his passes for 1,694 yards with 11 scores and just 3 picks. Bridgewater has played extremely well this season and it will be interesting to see how he performs against a superb Cincinnati pass rush on Friday night.
If the Bearcats are able to get to Bridgewater and disrupt the passing attack, they will still have to worry about the Cardinals rushing attack as well. Running back Senorise Perry and Jeremy Wright have combined for more than 1,000 rushing yards and 17 touchdowns already this year. Perry leads the team with 588 yards rushing while averaging an impressive 5.3 yards per carry. That success on the ground has been the biggest difference for the Cardinals in 2012. In fact, Louisville has nearly eclipsed their 2011 rushing totals through the first 7 games of the year and they need to continue to run the ball well.
On the other side of the field, Cincinnati brings an even better offense into Louisville this Friday at least on paper. The Bearcats have averaged 225 yards per game on the ground (15th in FBS) and 467 total yards per game (24th in FBS). Running back George Winn is 2nd in the Big East with 607 rushing yards on the year and averaging a thundering 6.4 yards per carry. QB Munchie Legaux has added 264 yards to that strong Cincinnati rushing attack as well. Legaux has not had the greatest year with his arm hitting just 53.3% passing for 1,435 yards with 12 scores and 5 picks. Until last week, Legaux had not had any games that really cost the Bearcats despite the mediocre numbers. However, Legaux tossed 2 picks and completed just 41% of his passes last week. As a result, Cincinnati just could not make enough plays in the loss to Toledo due to those offensive woes.
This week Cincinnati has to play much better in all aspects of the game. Even special teams let the Bearcats down last week giving up a 91 yard kickoff return to give Toledo the go ahead touchdown late in the 3rd quarter. Additionally, the Bearcats will not be able to overcome the turnovers that led to their demise last week in a game that is expected to be very close hence the 4 point spread. For both Louisville and Cincinnati, this game will be won in the trenches. Both offenses need the running game to control the ball, tempo, and setup the pass. Therefore, keep an eye on both offensive lines in this game because the running game will be that critical to both team’s chances at victory.
Jay’s Pick to Cover the Point Spread: I have watched Louisville pull off a lot of close wins this year while not playing their best football. If the Cardinals do not bring their “A” game this Friday night, I would not be surprised to see the Bearcats pull off the road win. Consider this a hunch. Take Cincinnati +4.
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