Louisville Cardinals (2-4 SU, 3-2 ATS) vs. Cincinnati Bearcats (6-0 SU, 3-2 ATS), 3:30 p.m. EST, Saturday, October 24, 2009, Nippert Stadium, Cincinnati, Ohio. TV: ESPNU
by Ryno of Predictem.com
Point Spread: Louisville +18/Cincinnati -18
The Cincinnati Bearcats are cruising towards a possible Big East title and BCS berth. The Bearcats are undefeated at 6-0 and are ranked No. 5 in the country. This week’s obstacle will be the Louisville Cardinals, a 2-4 team coming off a 38-25 loss at Connecticut. But the bigger obstacle for the Bearcats could be overcoming the injury of star quarterback Tony Pike, who injured his forearm against South Florida and is questionable for the Louisville game.
Without Pike, Cincinnati was still able to win the game, 34-17. Leading the way was backup QB Zach Collaros, who threw for 72 yards and used his speed to run for 132 yards and two touchdowns. Collaros proved that even if Pike can’t play on Saturday, Collaros can still lead the Bearcats to victory. Before Pike left the game, he was 12-for-25 with 140 yards and two touchdowns. For the season, Pike has 1,633 yards, 15 touchdowns and three interceptions. The major recipient of Pike’s success has been wide receiver Mardy Gilyard, who has proved to be one of the top receivers in college football. He has 43 receptions, 592 yards and seven touchdowns.
Louisville’s two wins this season are over Indiana State and Southern Miss, while the losses are to Kentucky, Utah, Pittsburgh and Connecticut. In the loss to Connecticut, Louisville was trailing just 14-13 at the half. But UConn outscored the Cardinals 17-0 in the third quarter to open up a 31-13 lead. Louisville tried to pound the ball on the ground, running the ball 46 times for 166 yards. But a pair of interceptions thrown by quarterback Adam Froman really plagued the Cardinals. UConn was able to run for 216 yards and throw for 273 yards. The second half has been the problem for Louisville all year. Against Pitt, the Cardinals led 10-7 at the half but Pitt outscored them 28-0 in the second half.
Both teams are giving up slightly over 200 passing yards per game. But Louisville is tied for second in the country with 13 interceptions on defense. Louisville has thrown seven interceptions in six games. Cincinnati is giving up 116 rushing yards per game and 3.0 yards per carry, while Louisville is allowing 158.7 rushing yards per game and 4.2 yards per carry.
Cincinnati can win this game with or without Pike. After the initial BCS rankings came out this week and have the Bearcats at No. 5, they know they have a chance to reach the BCS Championship if they can run the table. They will be playing hard, especially at home on Homecoming. Louisville typically starts well and then falls apart in the second half, so as long as the Bearcats can get the lead or at least keep it close in the first half they will be fine.
Louisville is 1-5 ATS in its last six road games and 2-9 SU in its last 11 games. The Cardinals have lost five straight road games. The total has gone over in six of Louisville’s last nine road games. Cincinnati has won nine of its last 10 home games. Against Louisville, the Bearcats are 1-5 SU in their last six meetings and 3-8 ATS in their last 11 matchups. Cincinnati defeated Louisville last season, 28-20.
Ryno’s Pick: There is little doubt that Cincinnati will win this game. The Cardinals lost 35-10 to Pitt after holding a 10-7 lead at the half. Cincinnati is better than Pitt. The Bearcats are the best team in the Big East and one of the few remaining teams in the country. Louisville is yet to defeat a BCS conference school. The Cardinals won by just two points at home over Southern Miss. Whether or not Cincy can win this game by more than 18 points could depend on whether or not Pike plays. If he plays or not, the under is a good play. Cincy’s last four games have all had less than 55 points scored. Four of Louisville’s six games this season have been under 55. Take the under of 55.5.