Saturday, November 7, 2020, Nippert Stadium, Cincinnati, Ohio, 3:30 p.m. ET
Cougars at Bearcats Betting Preview: Cougars (+13.5), Bearcats (-13.5)
Houston Cougars Betting Preview
As if the Cougars (2-2, 2-1 American Athletic Conference) didn’t have enough issues facing Cincinnati’s stingy defense, they are likely to be without one of their key contributors with receiver Marquez Stevenson nursing an ankle he injured in the first quarter of last week’s 44-21 loss to UCF.
Stevenson has 16 receptions for 278 yards despite missing most of the loss to UCF, and his absence also will be felt on special teams where he is averaging 36.2 yards on kickoff returns with a 97-yard runback for a touchdown.
“We’ve got guys that are out, but we’ve got guys that need to step in there and play,” Houston coach Dana Holgorsen said. “That’s the bottom line. The better those backups go in there and play, the better chance we have of winning. That’s every team across the country.”
Quarterback Clayton Tune has led the offense. He has completed 61.9 percent of his passes for 1,208 yards (302 yards per game) and eight touchdowns, but he also has thrown four interceptions. Kyle Porter has rushed for 255 yards and three touchdowns.
Cincinnati Bearcats Betting Preview
The No. 6 Bearcats (5-0, 2-0 AAC) will take a 17-game winning streak at home into the game against Houston, and their defense has been a major reason why.
Their veteran crew ranks seventh in scoring defense and 15th in total defense in giving up only 12 points and 306.2 yards a game. The depth chart lists eight seniors in the starting lineup, and that has earned Holgerson’s admiration.
“I hope and pray they have me around here long enough to be able to, at five years into it, sit here and talk about all my seniors that have been in the program for the last five years,” Holgorsen said. “They’re sound, they’re fast, they’re tough, they’re physical, they’re athletic, they play with great effort and they play well together as a team.”
Offensively, Desmond Ridder has settled in and has completed 64.8 percent of his passes for just under 199 yards a game while rushing for 291 yards, second to Gerrid Doaks’ 327. A late scoring rush has boosted the Bearcats’ average to 39.5 points a game, and they have rushed for an average of 217.8 yards per outing.
Cincinnati extracted a measure of revenge for two late-season losses to Memphis last year in whipping the Tigers 49-10 last week. Earlier they handed SMU its first loss of the season.
With a match against UCF seemingly the biggest obstacle in their way to a conference title and even playoff consideration, coach Luke Fickell wants his players to keep their focus.
“I think hopefully we’ve got a really mature crew that understands and realizes that as we continue to move forward the expectations for a lot of things continue to rise,” Fickell said. “And that’s what they’re excited about.”
Cougars at Bearcats Betting Pick for November 7, 2020
The Bearcats have not lost at Nippert since a 34-7 setback to Memphis on Nov. 18, 2016. The Bearcats have won six of the last eight meetings with the Cougars, though one of the two Cougars’ wins in that span was at Nippert earlier in 2016.
Cougars at Bearcats Betting Pick:
Bearcats 38, Cougars 14
Cougars at Bearcats Best Bet for November 7, 2020
The Bearcats have scored 91 points their last two games (42-13 over SMU, 49-10 over Memphis) while the Cougars are coming off a season-low in their 44-21 loss to UCF. The Cougars gave up a season-high 681 yards in total offense to the Knights.
Cougars at Bearcats Best Bet: UNDER 57.5