Cincinnati is two games clear in the AAC East, but it’s not guaranteed to win the division just yet. It can’t take its foot off the gas against Temple because a trip to Memphis comes next. The Bearcats were still decent -10.5 point home favorites with an over/under of 46.5 early in the week.
Cincinnati has yet to lose in conference play, yet outside of the three-point home win against UCF, hasn’t faced much competition due to a favorable schedule that includes two of the worst teams in the West division.
Temple has been hard to project this season, which is why this game could either be close or a blowout. Already this season, Temple has beaten Memphis, but also lost by more than 20 points to both SMU and UCF. Maybe the best thing going for the Owls is that they’ve won and covered the last four meetings.
Temple’s defense is the unit that has to step up in this matchup because it’s had some bad outings. It’s allowing a decent 25 points per game but also 3.8 yards per carry and 160 rushing yards per contest.
Cincy has some big numbers offensively, but a lot of that is because of schedule as it managed just 20 points at USF last game. Reaching 30 points in this matchup isn’t a given for this offense even if the numbers say otherwise.
Quarterback Desmond Ridder hasn’t been needed for much, failing to throw for more than 172 yards in the last four games while averaging 7.4 yards per attempt for the season.
The Bearcats are fine with running the ball on almost every down, whether that’s through Ridder, who is averaging 7.0 yards per carry if you remove sacks, or running backs Michael Warren and Gerrid Doaks. Given Temple’s iffy run defense, that strategy could be enough to win this game.
Yet, it’s not like Cincy’s defense can’t be beat, having already allowed 43 points to East Carolina. The Bearcats are allowing a solid 20.6 points per game, but 370 total yards, which is middle of the pack.
As long as the Owls defense doesn’t allow more than 30 points, their offense has enough to be competitive and even go for the outright upset. Quarterback Anthony Russo is about as mediocre as it gets, averaging 6.8 yards per attempt for 18 touchdowns and 10 interceptions.
He doesn’t do anything particularly well, but he’ll move the ball in the right situation with a nice trio of wideouts in Jadan Blue, Branden Mack and Isaiah Wright. The hope is that they can get something from the ground as Re’Mahn Davis and Jager Gardner have struggled in tougher matchups, namely the huge loss to UCF.
Cincinnati has coasted to the top of the standings partly because of schedule and winning by more than 10 points is far from guaranteed for this group.
Not to mention, it has to travel to Memphis next week so if this game is tight in the first half, there’s no doubt nerves will start to kick in at some point.
Temple is 1-4 ATS in its last five road games against a team with a winning home record, while the under has hit in Cincinnati’s last five home games. The Owls have covered the last four overall in this meeting and the last four played in Cincinnati.
Our Pick – Cincinnati -10