No. 19 Louisville Cardinals (10-1 SU, 4-7 ATS) vs. Cincinnati Bearcats (9-2 SU, 6-5 ATS)
College Football Week 15
Date and Time: Thursday December 5th, 2013. 7:30PM Eastern
Where: Nippert Stadium Cincinnati, O.H.
by Jay, Football Handicapper, Predictem.com
Point Spread: LV -3.5/CIN +3.5
Over/Under Total: OFF
If you are still feeling the fever of Rivalry Week, there will be another
entertaining showdown between rivals this Thursday when the no. 19 Louisville
Cardinals go into Nippert Stadium to battle the Cincinnati
Bearcats for the Keg of Nails. Both teams are currently having
superb 2013 campaigns. Louisville is tied for 2nd in the American Athletic
Conference with Cincinnati at 6-1 in conference play. The Cardinals would
clinch their 11th win of the season with a victory marking the first time
in school history they have accomplished back to back 11 win seasons.
While Louisville will enter as mere 3.5 point favorites this Thursday with an impressive 10-1 SU mark, it is the Bearcats that seemingly have the momentum going into the regular season finale. Cincinnati has won 6 straight games entering this week’s contest and they have played outstanding football over the past few weeks. Head Coach Tommy Tuberville suffered a slow start to his inaugural season in Cincinnati with early losses to Illinois and South Florida. However the Bearcats have found their stride behind the arm of senior quarterback Brandon Kay. Kay has tossed 22 touchdowns with 9 picks while supporting an impressive 70.3 completion percentage this year. As a result, the Bearcats passing attack has averaged 315 yards (15th in FBS) per game this season and averaged 36 points over the last 6 games.
The Bearcats have the talent to challenge Charlie Strong’s Cardinals on both sides of the ball. The offense has been extremely strong in recent weeks but the Cincinnati defense has been equally impressive. The Bearcats own the 10th best scoring defense in the country yielding just 18.5 points per game. Quarterback Teddy Bridgewater and the rest of the Cardinals offensive production has faded in recent weeks. Therefore if the Bearcats’ defense can limit the big plays and continue to play well, it should give their offense the chance to compete for the win.
On paper, the Cardinals definitely appear to be the better team on both sides of the ball. Bridgewater is capping off another impressive season with 25 touchdowns and just 3 picks. The Cardinals star player will undoubtedly be the top quarterback in this year’s NFL Draft and he is able to make any throw on the field. Additionally Coach Strong’s Cardinal defense has been just a gritty as his former defenses down in Florida. Louisville currently ranks 3rd in scoring defense allowing just 11.8 points per game. The Cardinals defense held similar statistics last year before giving up 31 points to the Bearcats in a 34-31 victory. So it will be interesting to see if this year’s Louisville defense can do a better job of slowing down the Bearcats’ spread offense.
Cincinnati has averaged 32 points per game in the last 5 meetings against Louisville while winning 4 out of 5 of those contests. This rivalry has been rather high scoring in recent years. With the talent each team possesses on offense, it would not be surprising to see another high scoring game. However, one of these talented defenses is going to be the difference in the game. Both the Bearcats and Cardinals have defenses capable of getting after the quarterback and putting a lot of pressure on their opponents. The defense that can come through to win the field position battle, and possibly even come up with a turnover or two, will take home the Keg of Nails.
Jay’s Pick to Cover the Point Spread: As said above, the defensive play in this game will be critical. While the line is tempting to take Louisville at just over a field goal, I believe that Cincinnati is playing the best football right now. Additionally if this game does come down to defensive stops and turnovers, it definitely helps the Bearcats will be at home with the crowd in their favor. Take the Bearcats +3.5
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