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Cincinnati vs. West Virginia
Betting Line: West Virginia -5.5 o/u 47.5
Everyone knows the Big East is far from a powerhouse, but nobody expected it
to be as bad as it has been in 2010. Virtually every team has a chance to take
top honors. Both West Virginia and Cincinnati were expected to be top
contenders, but they find themselves in the basement at 1-2.
They meet in
Morgantown this week, and the loser will find their season all but over. Will it
be the hometown Mountaineers, or can defending Big East champ Cincinnati right
the ship? Let's find out.
Oddsmakers have tabbed West Virginia as a 5.5 point favorite. Neither team will be losing major players to injury this week, but the Bearcats will see the return of starting QB Zach Collaros. The Bearcats have won the last two meetings between these teams, but before that the Mountaineers won 4 out of 5. West Virginia possesses a solid home field advantage. Morgantown is one of the hardest places in college football to get a road victory.
The Cincinnati Bearcats have regressed incredibly from their undefeated campaign in 2009. They were stomped by lowly Syracuse 31-7 last week at Nippert Stadium. Granted it was with a backup QB, this is still an embarrassing loss for them and new head coach Butch Jones. If he wants to get fans off his back a win against West Virginia would be the perfect remedy.
Zach Collaros is a gamer in the truest sense of the word. The QB never lost a game in high school and he goes out every week with one thing in mind; getting a "W". That hasn't been hard as he has been repeatedly clobbered behind a patchwork offensive line. He's got excellent Wrs in Marcus Barnett, Armon Binns, and DJ Woods. Collaros also has a nice pass catching TE in Ben Guidugli. This offense has been stagnant without him. It's up to Colloras to be the catalyst that has fans thinking back to 2008 and 2009 when this offense scored at will.
West Virginia RB Noel Devine has found the end zone only 4 times this year. Teams have been keying their defensive strategy around stopping him. His best game of the year came against Marshall, where the Mountaineers found themselves in a dog fight. He rushed 23 times for 112 yards and a TD, while catching 10 passes for 62 yards. If there was ever a time for him to take out some frustration, it will be against this utterly pathetic Cincinnati defense. If he has a bad game, the Mountaineers can count on QB Geno Smith to pick up the slack. He has passed for 15 Tds this year.
West Virginia's defense has been spectacular, ranking 4th in nation in Points Against, at 13.6 PPG. The largest amount of points they have allowed in a single game is just 21. That is something else this day in age. Playing at home with a "do or die" mentality should only bolster their level of play. Cincinnati has been explosive at times, and very anemic at others. The level of play needed by this squad will depend on which Cincinnati shows up. Regardless, for WVU to win, this defense has to continue the great play they have exhibited all year long.
Stopping Noel Devine is tough for any team, but this Bearcats defense will have a particularly hard time. They are downright awful and sometimes give up on drives. Throw in QB Geno Smith, and Cincinnati will probably have to go score for score with the Mountaineers to win. If the Bearcats can play just a single half of solid defense it will give their team a chance to win.
As far as a pointspread winner in this game, we have some conflicts. The yards per point numbers show the difference between these two teams. Specifically, one team, WVA, has a defense, while the other, Cincinnati, does not. We'd favor WVA by about a touchdown using yards per point. Another method we use to arrive at a margin, has WVA winning a 24-13 type of a game. So we'd have a lean here towards West Virginia -5.5. However, we simply don't trust the West Virginia offense here. If Cincinnati is able to put points on the board, as they have every time out this year, this one could be very close. West Virginia has scored just 20, 14 and 13 points their last 3 games.
We also have a situation here where the line has moved towards Cinci despite 85% of the wagers coming in on the West Virginia side. This is a classic example of sharp money coming in on Cinci. So we'll have to stay away from the side in this one.
Perhaps the wager with more value here is the total. Specifically, Under the total of 47.5. Six of the eight games West Virginia has played this year have seen less than 47 points scored. Our score prediction of 24-13 or so gives us some wiggle room with this total, so we'll make a small recommendation here for this game to go under the total of 47.5.