No. 23 Tulsa Golden Hurricane at No. 9 Cincinnati Bearcats Betting Preview

Saturday, December 19, 2020, Nipper Stadium, Cincinnati, Ohio, 8 p.m. ET

Golden Hurricane at Bearcats Betting Preview: Golden Hurricane  (+14.5), Bearcats (-14.5)

Golden Hurricane

No. 23 Tulsa enters the American Athletic Conference with some momentum after winning six consecutive game following its opening loss at Oklahoma State.

The Golden Hurricane (6-1, 6-0 AAC) clinched their berth with a 19-6 win over Navy on Dec. 5. That victory will allow them the opportunity to compete for a championship for the first time since 2012.

The Golden Hurricane lost an opportunity to host the league title game when their regularly scheduled game against the Bearcats was canceled last week. The conference awarded the Bearcats home field because of their higher spot in the College Football Playoff rankings. The two teams also had been scheduled to meet in October.

“I know our guys were excited to play them early in the year,” Golden Hurricane coach Philip Montgomery told the Tulsa World. “They were excited to play them this past weekend. We’re finally going to get that opportunity to do that.”

League coaches picked Tulsa to finish ninth in the conference in a preseason poll, but the Hurricane got rolling with a 34-26 win at UCF after their opening 16-7 loss to Oklahoma State and have kept on since.

The win over the Knights was the first of four comeback wins for the Hurricane this season. They were down 23-5 late n the first half at UCF and trailed 17-3 at the half of their eventual 34-30 win over East Carolina. They were down 21-0 early against SMU and 24-7 at the half before rallying for a 28-24 win over the Mustangs, and they were down 14 points late in the third quarter against Tulane before pulling out the 30-24 win in overtime.

Zach Smith has been the leader on offense. In 19 career games he has passed for 4,713 yards and 30 touchdowns with 1,414 yards and 11 touchdowns coming in the seven games of this season.

Zaven Collins leads the defense. He was a unanimous pick of the conference coaches for AAC Defensive Player of the Year after recording 51 tackles with 11.5 for losses with four sacks and four interceptions.

Bearcats

No. 9 Cincinnati’s drop in the latest CFP rankings from what was a No. 7 place just a couple of weeks ago pretty much puts the Bearcats (8-0, 6-0  AAC) out of contention for a spot in the four-team playoff field, but they do remain the leader for a berth in one of the prestigious New Year’s Six bowl games.

The Bearcats are three spots ahead of undefeated Coastal Carolina in the rankings among teams from Group of Five conferences as they prepare to play their first game since a 36-33 victory at UCF on Nov. 21.

“I think we’re in pretty good shape, in a good place right now,” Cincinnati coach Luke Fickell said. “We’re getting through some minor things that come along with being off for 14, 15, 16 days or so. Other than that I think we should hopefully by Saturday be in good shape with just about everybody.”

Fickell (Coach of the Year) and Cincinnati quarterback Desmond Ridder (Offensive Player of the Year) were among those selected for 2020 AAC Awards this week. 

Ridder became the first Bearcat to earn the honor since running back Isaiah Pead in 2011. He has passed for 1,821 yards and 16 touchdowns this season and also has rushed for 526 yards and 11 scores.

But he threw for just 172 yards and added 23 on the ground in Cincinnati’s 24-13 win over Tulsa last season.

Gerrid Doaks had three touchdowns (two rushing, one receiving) in that game for the Bearcats. He has nine scores (seven rushing, two receiving) this season and leads the team in rushing with 660 yards.

Golden Hurricane at Bearcats  Betting Pick for December 19, 2020

Among common opponents, Cincinnati posted a 38-33 win at UCF in its last game and Tulsa rallied to be the Knights 34-26) back on Oct. 3. Cincinnati whipped South Florida 28-7 and East Carolina 55-17, and Tulsa handled South Florida 42-13 and East Carolina 34-30. The Bearcats also cruised past SMU 42-13 and the Hurricane had to overcome a 21-point deficit to win 28-24.

Golden Hurricane at Bearcats Betting Pick:

Bearcats 28, Golden Hurricane 24

Golden Hurricane at Bearcats Best Bet for December 19, 2020

Cincinnati has won six of the last seven meetings with Tulsa, a stretch that includes a 24-13 win in Nippert Stadium last year. The two previous meetings were much higher scoring affairs with the Hurricane winning 40-47 in overtime in 2016 and the Bearcats winning 49-38 in 2015.

Golden Hurricane at Bearcats Best Bet: OVER 45.5

No. 24 Tulsa at Navy Betting Preview

Saturday, December 5, 2020, Navy-Marine Corps Memorial Stadium, Annapolis, Maryland, 3:30 p.m. ET

Golden Hurricane at Midshipmen Betting Preview: Golden Hurricane (-10.5), Midshipmen (+10.5)

Tulsa Golden Hurricane Betting Preview

No. 24 Tulsa will look to lock up its first berth in the American Athletic Conference title game with a win over Navy.

The Golden Hurricane (5-1, 5-0 AAC) have won five straight games since losing at then-No. 11 Oklahoma State 16-7 to open the season. Tulsa can also secure a spot in the conference title game even with a loss to Navy, provided it beats unbeaten Cincinnati next week.

“I feel like we should be in decent shape,” Tulsa coach Philip Montgomery said Tuesday, via the Tulsa World. “Everybody’s got bruises and banged up a little bit this time of year, but for the most part I think everybody else will be available.”

Tulsa has never beaten Navy in AAC play. The Midshipmen are 5-0 against Tulsa since they joined the league in 2015.

Quarterback Zach Smith will be back in the Tulsa lineup after a torso injury sidelined him for most of Tulsa’s last game against Tulane on Nov. 19. He has completed 98 of his 162 pass attempts for 1,266 yards with 10 touchdowns and six interceptions.

Josh Johnson (32 catches, 408 yards, 5 TDs) and Keylon Stokes (31 catches, 446 yards, 2 TDs) are his favorite targets.

Deneric Price, who has 356 yards and a pair of scores on 71 carries, and T.K. Wilkerson (73 carries, 300 yards, four touchdowns) pace the ground game.

“What they do on offense presents everybody with trouble,” Navy coach Ken Niumatalolo said. “They spread you out a ton and pound the football. If you don’t shore up the run game, they’ll keep pounding you. If you try to get people involved with the run game, they’ll get you on the edges.”

Navy Midshipmen Betting Preview

Navy (3-5, 3-3 AAC) has played at least two quarterbacks in six of its eight games, with the only exceptions being against Temple and Houston, when Dalen Morris played every snap.

Morris and Tyger Goslin split time in the team’s last game, combining to complete 4 of 11 passes for 88 yards and an interception. Navy rushed for 233 yards on 52 carries, led by Nelson Smith, who had 29 carries for 142 yards and a touchdown.

Navy and Tulsa were initially scheduled to meet on Nov. 7, but the game was postponed after a coronavirus outbreak swept through the Naval Academy, preventing the Midshipmen from traveling for the contest.

The Midshipmen dominated Tulsa last season as quarterback Malcolm Perry rushed for 218 yards and three touchdowns on 20 carries in a 45-17 win. But Perry now plays for the Miami Dolphins, and the Midshipmen haven’t been able to replicate his production under center this year.

For the season, Morris has rushed for 54 yards and passed for 570 in seven appearances and Goslin has rushed for 31 yards and thrown for 333 in just four games.

By moving the game to Navy-Marine Corps Memorial Stadium, it will allow Navy to have Senior Day for its 26 Midshipmen to play one more home game.

Navy, which closes the season at Army on Dec. 12, has won 17 straight games on Senior Day.

Golden Hurricane at Midshipmen Betting Pick for December 5, 2020

Navy has won six of the seven meetings with the Golden Hurricane, including the last six. Tulsa won the inaugural meeting in 2006 24-23 in overtime.

Golden Hurricane at Midshipmen Betting Pick:

Golden Hurricane 31, Midshipmen 24

Golden Hurricane at Midshipmen Best Bet for December 5, 2020

Close games have marked the meetings in Annapolis. The average score of the three games shows Navy with a 34-31 scoring margin. Navy’s season high came in a 51-37 loss to SMU.

The Golden Hurricane has demonstrated a remarkable penchant for comeback wins, the latest a 30-24 overtime affair against Tulane in which they rallied from a 14-point third quarter deficit.

Golden Hurricane at Midshipmen Best Bet: OVER 51.5

–Field Level Media