West Virginia Mountaineers vs. Cincinnati Bearcats Preview and Pick – Point Spread

West Virginia Mountaineers (7-2 SU, 2-6 ATS) vs. Cincinnati Bearcats (9-0 SU, 5-3 ATS), 8:00 p.m. EST, Friday, November 13, 2009, Nippert Stadium, Cincinnati, Ohio. TV: ESPN2
by Ryno of Predictem.com

Point Spread: West Virginia +9/Cincinnati -9
Over/Under: 55.5

Whether it’s Tony Pike or Zach Collaros, Cincinnati has been spectacular this season. The Bearcats are 9-0 and competing for a Big East title and a spot in the BCS National Championship. Coming off a nail-biter 47-45 win over Connecticut, the Bearcats have a big test Friday night when they host West Virginia.

Through five games, Pike was a legit Heisman candidate. But against South Florida, Pike suffered a forearm injury and hasn’t played since. Pike has thrown for 1,633 yards, 15 touchdowns and three interceptions. Collaros has filled in for him rather nicely. The sophomore quarterback has totaled 1,229 passing yards, 10 passing touchdowns, one interception, 288 rushing yards and four rushing touchdowns.

Collaros will once again be the starting quarterback against West Virginia.

The Bearcats are a throw-first team, but they have been able to run the ball well. Isaiah Pead has 512 rushing yards and seven touchdowns, while Jacob Ramsey has 419 rushing yards and three touchdowns. Pead, Ramsey and Collaros are all averaging more than six yards per carry.

No matter who is under center, Mardy Gilyard and Armon Binns have been terrific this season. Gilyard has 65 receptions, 908 yards and eight touchdowns. Binns has 39 receptions, 631 yards and seven touchdowns.

The Bearcats have scored at least 28 points in every game this season. Before giving up 45 points to Connecticut, they had never allowed more than 20 points in a game this season.

West Virginia is a run-first team. The Mountaineers rely a lot on running back Noel Devine, who has 1,010 rushing yards, 10 touchdowns and a 6.0 yards-per-carry average. Devine isn’t the only super-speedy player on the WVU offense. Wide receiver Jock Sanders gets the ball in his hands very often as well. Sanders has 58 receptions for 555 yards and three touchdowns. He also has 136 rushing yards and a rushing touchdown. Quarterback Jarrett Brown has 1,661 passing yards, 10 touchdowns and eight touchdowns. Brown is a decent quarterback, but he is much more successful when the run game is working. When Brown is forced to carry the offense, the Mountaineers aren’t very successful. They must establish a strong running attack to pull off the upset over Cincinnati.

West Virginia’s pass defense has been mediocre. The Mountaineers are giving up 220.7 passing yards per game. They’ve given up 15 passing touchdowns while intercepting 12 passes. But opposing quarterbacks are completing just 52.1 percent of their passes against them.

Cincinnati’s run defense has also been mediocre. The Bearcats have given up 125.3 rushing yards per game and nine rushing touchdowns.

West Virginia has won four of the last six games against Cincinnati, but the Bearcats won last season, 26-23 in overtime. Pike threw a game-winning touchdown pass in overtime but he only had 178 passing yards. Devine only had 58 rushing yards.

Cincinnati is 11-1 SU in its last 12 home games. West Virginia is 1-6 ATS in its last seven games and 1-4 ATS in its last five road games.

Ryno’s Pick: When these two teams met last season, it was a defensive battle that went into overtime before Cincinnati got the victory. Pike and Devine both were limited offensively. West Virginia’s defense has not been great this season. The Mountaineers have been giving up a lot of yards, but they have been getting turnovers. Cincinnati is unlikely to turn the ball over - Collaros has just one interception in four games - so the Bearcats should be able to move the ball well against West Virginia. Cincinnati’s defense has been decent, but the Bearcats do give up some yards on the ground. Devine should be able to run the ball well against the Cincy defense, giving Brown an opportunity to make some plays with his arm. West Virginia has only scored a combined 36 points in the last two games, but the Mountaineers should be geared up for this one. Both teams will be well prepared and will be playing hard with a lot on the line. Expect a shootout, but Cincinnati can score more points than the Mountaineers. Cincinnati should win this game by double digits, but the over is a better play. Take the over 55.5 as this may happen by the end of the 3rd quarter!