Cincinnati Bearcats (7-0 SU, 4-2 ATS) vs. Syracuse Orange (3-4 SU, 4-2 ATS), 12:00 p.m. EST, Saturday, October 31, 2009, Carrier Dome, Syracuse, N.Y. TV: ESPNU
by Ryno of Predictem.com
Point Spread: Cincinnati -15/Syracuse +15
Cincinnati continues its National Championship push as the undefeated Bearcats visit Syracuse in the Carrier Dome. Even without injured quarterback Tony Pike, the Bearcats won easily, 41-10, over Louisville. When Pike got injured in the game prior to that and was first replaced by Zach Collaros, they won a road game at then-nationally ranked South Florida.
Collaros was remarkably efficient against Louisville. He was 15-for-17 for 253 yards and three touchdowns. He also ran 11 times for 52 yards. Pike is doubtful for the game on Saturday, but Collaros has proved that he is more than capable of carrying the load. Wide receivers Mardy Gilyard and Armon Binns each caught a touchdown pass against Louisville. Gilyard had 82 yards receiving, while Binns had 75.
Against Louisville, the Bearcats allowed 139 rushing yards but they shut down the Cardinals passing game. They allowed a total of 145 passing yards. They intercepted a pass and had four sacks.
If Syracuse could run the ball well, they might be able to keep the game close. Delone Carter has been moderately successful running the ball this season with 530 yards and eight touchdowns. Quarterback Greg Paulus has been the key player for Cuse and the main reason the Orange have been scoring more points this season. Paulus has thrown for 1,292 yards and nine touchdowns, and has completed 64.5 percent of his pass attempts. But the biggest problem for the Orange has been Paulus’s 10 interceptions. Mike Williams has been Paulus’s top target with 45 receptions for 712 yards and six touchdowns.
Syracuse barely survived with a 28-14 home win over Akron in its last game. Before that, Cuse lost two in a row to West Virginia and South Florida. The only win for Cuse this season over a BCS school is a 37-34 win over Northwestern.
Syracuse has the sixth worst pass defense in the country, giving up 271.3 passing yards per game. The Orange have also allowed 15 passing touchdowns while picking off five passes.
Cincinnati has a much better pass defense with 199.6 passing yards allowed per game. The Bearcats have only allowed five passing touchdowns and they’ve come away with 14 interceptions.
While Syracuse has one of the worst pass defenses, it has one of the best rush defenses. To be exact, Cuse has the seventh best rush defense in the country, allowing 84.0 yards per game and 2.6 yards per carry. Cincinnati gives up 118.0 rushing yards per game, but its 3.1 yards-per-carry average isn’t too shabby, nor is its five rushing touchdowns allowed as compared to nine for Syracuse.
Syracuse will be able to slow down the game a bit with its stellar run defense. But the Bearcats are a pass-first team. They have attempted 242 passes and 198 rushes. Collaros has 454 passing yards, 191 rushing yards, seven total touchdowns, one interception and a 71.4 completion percentage. If Pike is able to play, he has 1,633 passing yards, 15 touchdowns, three interceptions and a 64.3 completion percentage. The Bearcats should be able to pass at will on the Orange.
The combination of Paulus’s 10 interceptions thrown and Cincinnati’s 14 defensive interceptions should lead to multiple turnovers by the Orange.
Cincinnati is 5-2 ATS in its last seven road games and 5-0 SU in its last five road games. The total has gone over in six of Cincy’s last eight road games. Cincinnati defeated Syracuse last season, 30-10. The Bearcats have won five of the last six meetings with Cuse. Four of the last five meetings between these teams have gone under.
Ryno’s Pick: Cincinnati has been playing great with Collaros at quarterback. The injury to Pike hasn’t affected this team at all. The combination of a terrible pass defense and a great passing attack should lead to a lot of points for Cincinnati. The Bearcats have scored at least 28 points in every game this season and they haven’t allowed more than 20 in a game. Other than the Northwestern game, Syracuse hasn’t scored more than 20 points against a BCS team. They’ve given up at least 23 to every BCS team they’ve faced. The Bearcats are undefeated and have a ton to play for. They will come out firing and end this one early. Take Cincinnati -15.