There wasn’t much that separated Cincinnati and Memphis last week, yet the oddsmakers don’t care as this spread is almost exactly the same as the final score.
Despite not covering in this same spot last week, the Tigers were -9.5 point home favorites with an over/under of 57.5 early in the week for the AAC Championship game.
Memphis won 34-24 last week, but it got out to a 17-3 lead in the first quarter via an opening kickoff return and still couldn’t cover the spread.
It used a couple long touchdowns to pull away in the fourth quarter, but these teams were fairly even almost the entire way, as the Tigers out gained the Bearcats by just 25 yards.
The reason Cincinnati has a good shot of covering again is because of the Memphis defense, which has struggled against better teams this season and is allowing 4.1 yards per carry.
That iffy run defense is why the Bearcats hung around last week, rushing for 4.0 yards per carry and 178 yards behind Michael Warren III. That’s what they’ve done all season as Warren has 1,061 yards on 4.9 yards per carry for 12 touchdowns.
Even with backup quarterback Ben Bryant getting his first start of the season, they still managed to be competitive so it may not matter if Desmond Ridder returns from his shoulder injury.
If he does, that’s another boost to the underdog, though Bryant could look better after another week of practice under center.
Cincinnati got kind of tired in that first meeting and that can’t happen again if it wants to have a chance. While it didn’t allow a point in the third quarter, Memphis scored on a 46-yard pass and 29-yard rush in the fourth quarter.
The Bearcats are in this spot because of defense and that’s what they have to show in this matchup as they’re allowing 3.6 yards per carry.
Memphis had success in that first game, though it wasn’t consistent as 31 of its 34 points came in the first and fourth quarters. Running back Kenneth Gainwell was his usual self, rushing for 87 yards on 5.8 yards per carry, and top receiver Damonte Coxie had 145 yards, but that still led to limited production.
The same goes for quarterback Brady White, who attempted 26 passes and averaged 9.0 yards throw. The numbers look great for the Tigers, but they had a couple three-and-outs and failed fourth-down attempts, which didn’t help because Cincy used as much clock as possible with its ground game.
These teams will undoubtedly throw something new into this game and while Ridder would help Cincinnati, he isn’t needed to stay competitive. The Bearcats could again ride their ground game and stout defense to cover this matchup.
The under has hit in Cincinnati’s last four games, but the over is 8-2 in Memphis’s last 10 conference games. The Bearcats have covered in the last five meetings between these schools played at Memphis and the road team is 5-0 ATS in the last five overall.
Our Pick – We cashed in last week by using Cincinnati +13 as a Key Release for our subscribers. We think it will be a tad different this time around with Memphis leaving no doubt who deserves to be playing on New Years Day. Memphis -9