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PAPA JOHN'S BOWL
So Miss vs. Cincinnati
Handicapping Bowl games can be a tricky proposition because it's not always a matter of handicapping talent. You have to be able to gauge the motivation of teams to be playing on certain Bowls. This is once such instance. Here you have a very good Cincinnati team that lost 3 games all year, and those losses were by 4, 5 and 7 points.
The Bearcats had much higher hopes this year. A play here and a play there and this Cinci team could be playing in the Orange Bowl, or another prestigious Bowl game that garners National Attention. Instead, they are stuck playing a 7-5 So Miss team in Alabama on a Saturday Night in a game that no one outside of the students from both schools really cares about. Maybe they don't even care. This game is nothing more than a space filler in an era that has way too many worthless Bowl games to begin with.
So Miss on the other hand, is thrilled to be here. At no time this season was there hopes for So Miss to be playing in some prestigious Bowl game as there was in Cinci. So, to sum up, for So Miss, a decent season with a minor Bowl game as a reward. For Cinci, a very good team with a few close losses leaves a team thinking of what could have been while they play in a minor Bowl game that really amounts to more of a punishment than a reward.
As we handicap this game based on talent alone, we're left with little choice than to back Cinci. They are simply the better team. That have played a tougher schedule than So Miss and have played much better football against stiffer competition than So Miss has. Any time So Miss stepped up in class even a little bit, they were pounded. Tennessee, Central Florida, Boise St all pounded So Miss and those three represent the biggest step up in class for them this year. They even lost to Rice.
We feel Cinci could play with most teams in the country, including many playing at the end of this month and on New Years day. They are strong on both sides of the ball putting up some big offensive numbers and at one team leading the nation in turnovers (+17 currently).
If we get a true effort here, and Cincinnati doesn't just go through the motions, we should see them cover this number. But since we have a very questionable situation as far as motivation goes, we'll have to play this game small.
2* Cincinnati -11