Toledo Rockets (1-1 SU, 1-1 ATS) vs. Cincinnati Bearcats (0-0 SU, 0-0 ATS)
College Football Week 3
Date and Time: Friday, Sept. 12, 2014, 7:00 pm EST
Where: Paul Brown Stadium, Cincinnati, Ohio
by Badger, Football Handicapper, Predictem.com
Point Spread: TOL. +11/CIN. +11
Over/Under Total: 59
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The Cincinnati Bearcats will finally kick off their 2014 season, albeit a few weeks behind everyone else in the country, when they host the Mid-American Conference hopeful Toledo Rockets in the neutral site of Paul Brown Stadium in a Friday Night Lights special on ESPNU.
The Bearcats, considered the preseason favorite in the weakened American Athletic Conference (AAC), are still playing coy on who is going to be their starting quarterback this season. Highly recruited transfer Gunner Kiel was expected to take the job, but JC transfer Jarred Evens has played better and could earn a split in the snaps in the opener.
But where the Bearcats are trying to choose between two quarterbacks the Toledo Rockets are already being forced to go the rest of the season with their number two. Former Alabama transfer Phillip Ely was expected to lead the Rockets to the top of the MAC standings this season, until a torn ACL in last weeks lopsided loss to Missouri (lost 49-24) knocked him out of the rest of 2014. That means the next man in is QB Logan Woodside, who was 6-for-10 after Ely was hurt in the third quarter.
With the status of Ely unconfirmed until late in the day on Monday, this game is still not on the board at most sportsbooks as of press time. There are a few offshore books with Cincinnati listing as early 11-point favorites.
The over/under total has yet to be listed for this Friday night non-conference matchup. *Update: The over/under is 59.
Despite a named starter at QB, the Bearcats should be a tough challenge for the Rockets defense. All three of Cincinnatis top runners return from last year (Hosey Williams, Ralph David Abernathy and Tion Green), as well as their possession receiver Shaq Washington and an All-AAC performer at left tackle in Eric Lefeld. Toledos defense has been known to give up big yardage, including 502 yards of total offense to Missouri last week.
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Toledo can play offense, but now that Ely is out its hard to predict how well the team will rally around the backup Woodside. Kareem Hunt is a solid runner, but he may not be strong enough to become the feature of the offense to make up for the loss of Ely.
These two met in 2012 in the Glass Bowl in Toledo, in what turned into a 29-23 upset win by the Rockets that has sort of become the type of signature win for the Rockets program the past few years, sparked by a big kickoff return to regain the lead almost instantly after giving it up. Historically, Toledo is actually 3-1 SU and 3-0-1 ATS in the series against the in-state rival that dates from 2012 back to 1993.
Badgers Pick to Cover the Point Spread: I’m siding with the UNDER 59 points here.