Saturday, October 31, 2020, Nippert Stadium, Cincinnati, Ohio, noon ET
Tigers at Bearcats Betting Preview: Tigers (+4), Bearcats (-4)
The unranked Tigers (3-1, 2-1 American Athletic Conference) are expecting the Bearcats to be especially motivated for this meeting after the way the 2019 campaign ended. The two teams met in the regular-season finale with theTigers winning 34-24 to earn the right to host the Bearcats in the AAC title game the next week, which they also won 29-24.
“This is probably a game they had circled on their calendar,” first-year Memphis coach Ryan Silverfield said. “If you’re them and I’m them, it’s probably up in their weight room, this game circled, the Memphis logo on there somewhere. I’m sure their kids are pissed off, and rightfully so.”
Memphis hasn’t beaten a top 10 opponent since knocking off Tennessee in 1996. But the Tigers have won five in a row against Cincinnati and haven’t lost at Nippert Stadium since 2004
The Tigers have average 38.8 points (16th nationally) and 548.8 yards (fifth) per game. Quarterback Brady White is dealing with a drastically different supporting cast from last season, but he still has thrown for 1,375 yards and 17 touchdowns in just four games.
“Do we sit here and talk about what occurred in the past? No, but they understand a lot of chips are on the table for this one,” Silverfield said. “I think our guys will be up for that challenge.”
Coach Luke Fickell says it is too early for his No. 7 Bearcats (4-0, 2-0 AAC) to be thinking of a potential spot in the College Football Playoff and wants them to keep their focus on Memphis.
“When you get to the end of the season,” Fickell said. “All those things are great for the media, great for TV shows and things like that. … Truly, inside the walls of our locker room, it doesn’t do anything for you.”
He probably won’t have to come up with any gimmicks to motivate his Bearcats, who saw their chances not for spot in the playoffs but for a New Year’s Six bowl spot with he losses to the Tigers in their last two games.
“We have a pretty good grasp on who they are and what they do,” Fickell said. “We need to find a way to finish. Two times last year, we didn’t.”
A stingy defense and a playmaking quarterback have been key to the Bearcats’ highest ranking since 2009. The Bearcats rank 10th nationally in scoring defense with an average of 12.5 points allowed per game. Their closest game has been a 14-point home win over Army.
Quarterback Desmond Ridder has been handling the rest. He has thrown for 723 yards and seven touchdowns and rushed for 250 yards while averaging 10.9 yards per carry. Last week in a 42-13 rout at SMU, Ridder ran for career highs of 179 yards and three scores while throwing for 126 yards and a fourth TD.
Tigers at Bearcats Betting Pick for October 31, 2020
The Tigers have won the last five meetings, including last year’s AAC championship game 29-24. Ridder passed for only 38 yards but rushed for a team-high 113 yards for Cincinnati in that clash while White was 18 of 40 passing for 253 yards. The Bearcats got it rolling last week at SMU.
Tigers at Bearcats Betting Pick:
Bearcats 35, Tigers 27
Tigers at Bearcats Best Bet for October 31, 2020
Both teams are scoring in the high 30s (Cincinnati 37.2, Memphis 38.8), but the Bearcats have the big edge defensively. The have allowed only 12.5 points a game to 33.0 for Memphis. The Tigers have rolled to 548.8 yards a game offensively, which ranks fifth best in FBS statistics.
Tigers at Bearcats Best Bet: OVER 60.5