Date/Time: September 7, 2013 12:00 pm EST
College Football Betting Favorite: Cincinnati -8
The Cincinnati Bearcats throttled the Purdue Boilermakers at home last weekend. This week they’ll face another team near (or at) the bottom of the Big Ten standings in the Illinois Fighting Illini. This time the Bearcats will be on the road, but they are still a pretty heavy favorite in this one. Can the Illini pull off the upset at home?
Cincinnati got a new coach during the offseason, but they aren’t starting with a coach who isn’t familiar with big schools. Tommy Tubberville surprisingly left Texas Tech to come to Cincinnati during the offseason. Tubberville’s first game was extremely successful as the Bearcats blasted Purdue in dominating fashion. Most assumed Brendon Kay would be the starter at quarterback, but Munchie Legaux was the starter last week and Kay came in late in the game. The Bearcats may play both guys as the season moves forward, so that will be something to watch. Hosey Williams and Ralph Albernathy IV are a nice tandem in the backfield for the Bearcats offense.
Cincinnati’s defense was very good last year, and I expect the same from them this year. Jeff Luc and Greg Blair lead a super-talented group of linebackers for the Bearcats. Cincinnati allowed only 226 yards last weekend against Purdue. They’ll likely get a little bit tougher test from the Illinois offense, but Cincinnati’s stop unit should be one of the top 20 in the nation. Look for the Bearcats to dial up the pressure early and often in this one to try to rattle the Fighting Illini.
Illinois picked up a win in their season opener, but it certainly wasn’t an easy as expected. The Fighting Illini won 42-34 over FCS school Southern Illinois. Illinois led 42-24 in the fourth quarter before Southern Illinois finished the game with ten straight points. Tim Beckman’s team only won two games all of last year, so they’ll take wins any way they can get them this season. Illinois returns eight starters on offense from last year, but only four starters on defense. They may be a better team than last year, but a brutal schedule means they’ll likely be an underdog in nine or ten games this season.
Nathan Scheelhaase is a talented player at the quarterback spot. Scheelhaase was 28 for 36 passing for 416 yards in last week’s opener. After a long season last year, Illini fans have to be hoping that the week one strong performance will give Scheelhaase more confidence as they move through this season. Defensively, the big question marks are on the defensive line and in the secondary. The Fighting Illini allowed 307 yards through the air against Southern Illinois last week. The secondary is inexperienced, and the front four are very poor at pressuring the quarterback.
Free Pick: Over 54
Both of these offenses should be better than they were a year ago. Illinois will likely be more competitive than some think, but I’m still not sure they cover the number. I think the best way to play this one is with the over.
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