Saturday, October 24, 2020, Ford Stadium, Dallas, Texas 9 p.m. ET
Bearcats at Mustangs Betting Preview: Bearcats (+2.5), Mustangs (-2.5)
Coach Luke Fickell is having second thoughts about the postponement of Cincinnati’s scheduled game at Tulsa last week that created a three-week span between games for his No. 9 Bearcats (3-0, 1-0 American Athletic Conference).
Their last outing was a 28-7 win at home over South Florida on Oct. 3. They will be on the road for the first time this season when they take on the Mustangs in Dallas.
“I still believe in some ways we maybe panicked a little bit,” Fickell said of the postponement of the trip to Tulsa because of COVID-19 concerns. “In my eyes, I wouldn’t want to cancel any game. In my eyes, I don’t know that we couldn’t have played.
“But nonetheless, it was a good second half of the week that we ended up with no positive cases and felt a lot better by the time it was Friday and Saturday.”
The Bearcats face the challenge of slowing SMU’s high-octane offense that ranks fourth nationally in total offense (563.2 yards per game) and seventh in scoring (42.6 points per game). The Bearcats have allowed only 12.3 points and 306.7 yards a game and have seven interceptions in just three outings.
The 16th-ranked Mustangs (5-0, 2-0 AAC) are rolling behind senior quarterback Shane Buechele (1,710 yards and 12 touchdowns passing against two interceptions), who in just 18 games at SMU after transferring from Texas ranks third in career touchdown passes (46) and eighth in passing yardage (5,639).
Coach Sonny Dykes sees room for more progress after the 30-27 and 37-34 wins over Memphis and Tulane, respectively, in the Mustangs’ last two outings. They needed overtime to get by Tulane.
“It just says we’re getting better,” Dykes said of the start that has the Mustangs at 5-0 for a second consecutive season. “Some things that some guys had to overcome, and you got to give them a lot of credit for doing that. That’s what you want to do. You just want to try to keep improving your program.”
In addition to Buechele’s play, redshirt freshman Ulysses Bentley IV has rushed for 506 yards and eight touchdowns. With Reggie Roberson Jr. (22 catches, 474 yards) out with an injury, Rashee Rice has taken over the receiving lead with 24 receptions good for 411 yards.
Bearcats at Mustangs Betting Pick for October 24, 2020
The Bearcats have averaged a respectable 35.7 points a game, but the 55-20 rout of FCS foe Austin Peay in the opener accounts for a good part of that. They have been in the 20s in the two games since then (24-10 over Army, 28-7 over South Florida). The Mustangs miss Roberson, but still had 581 yards in total offense against Tulane (439 passing).
Bearcats at Mustangs Betting Pick:
Mustangs 38, Bearcats 28
Bearcats at Mustangs Best Bet for October 24, 2020
Desmond Ridder may be interception prone (four in three games), but he also has passed for 597 yards in just three outings, giving the junior 5,206 passing yards in his career. Defenses may take a back seat in this one.
Bearcats at Mustangs Best Bet: OVER 56.5
–Field Level Media