Free NCAA Football Pick: Houston Cougars at Cincinnati Bearcats

The Cincinnati Bearcats (8-3) meet the Houston Cougars (7-4) looking to extend their six-game winning streak. This game will feature the AAC’s top passer, Kiel (2,820 yards, 28 TDs), and the second-leading rusher, Farrow (796 yards, 11 TDs). It will begin Saturday at 12:00 p.m. ET and can be seen on ESPN or ESPN 2.

In last week’s matchup, Cincinnati defeated Temple 14-6. McKay had a good game in the victory, pulling in six receptions for 39 yards and one TD. Boone added 62 yards and a TD on 14 carries. Houston dominated Southern Methodist 35-9 in last week’s game. Farrow had a big game running the ball for the Cougars, totaling 110 yards and two TDs on 18 carries. Jackson put up 63 yards on 11 attempts.

Cincinnati is a seven-point favorite in this game and the Over/Under (O/U) is set at 54 points. The Bearcats enter the game with records of 8-3 Straight Up (SU) and 7-4 Against The Spread (ATS) this season. In the past five games, Cincinnati is a perfect 5-0 SU and ATS. Lately, the Bearcats have toted the rock with authority, averaging 203.6 rushing yards in the last five games. The Bearcats defense has stepped up its play in the past five games as well. They’ve allowed 16 points during that stretch, down from their season average of 26.4. The Cincinnati run defense has played at another level during those games as well. Its given up only 98.0 rush yards per game during that span. The Cougars will need to stop Cincinnati’s defense from getting to their quarterback in order to be successful in this game. The Bearcats rank 13th in sacks with 3.2 per home game. Cincinnati has only earned an average of 4.6 penalties per game on the season, making them one of the least penalized teams in the nation (18th).

On the other side, the Cougars have a record of 6-5 ATS and 7-4 SU. Over their last five games, the Cougars have a SU record of 4-1 and a 3-2 record ATS for those betting with them. They come into the game averaging 29.2 points per game, but expect those numbers to rise. The Bearcats give up an average of 32.4 points at home, making them one of the worst defensive teams in the country. The Bearcats may be catching the Cougars at the wrong time. They have found their groove on the ground, averaging 200.8 rushing yards during the past five games. The Houston pass defense has given teams fits during the past five games as well. During that time, opponents have gained an average of only 209.0 passing yards against this terrifying unit. The Houston defense will take advantage of every opportunity the Bearcats give them. The Cougars generate 2.7 turnovers per game, fifth in the country. The Bearcats defense usually doesn’t head in the right direction in the third quarter. They allow 8.4 points heading out of the break this year, one of the worst in the nation.

Predictions: SU Winner – HOUS, ATS Winner – HOUS, O/U – Under

Notes

The total has gone UNDER in 12 of Houston’s last 16 games.

The total has gone UNDER in 5 of Cincinnati’s last 6 games.

Houston is 5-1 SU in its last 6 games.

Cincinnati is 5-0 SU in its last 5 games.

The total has gone UNDER in 5 of Houston’s last 7 games on the road.

Cincinnati is 16-3 SU in its last 19 games at home.

Houston is 1-5 SU in its last 6 games when playing Cincinnati.

Cincinnati is 5-1 SU in its last 6 games when playing Houston.

Houston is 1-5 ATS in its last 6 games when playing Cincinnati.

Houston is 5-1 SU when leading at the half this season. Cincinnati is 8-0 SU when taking a lead into halftime.

Houston is 6-0 SU when leading at the start of the 4th quarter this season. Cincinnati is 8-0 SU when leading at the end of the third quarter.

Houston is just 2-3 SU this season in games where it loses the turnover battle.

Cincinnati is only 4-2 SU this season in games where it loses the turnover battle.

The Cincinnati defense has forced an average of 2.2 turnovers over its last five games, but Houston is 4-1 SU this season when turning the ball over at least 2 times in a game.

Since the start of last year, Cincinnati is 10-3 SU against AAC opponents, while Houston is 9-4 SU against conference foes.

According to national passing ranks, Houston has an advantage on both offense and defense. Its passing attack (ranked 82nd in the nation) will face the 104th-ranked pass defense of Cincinnati, while its 11th-ranked pass defense will look to limit the 14th-ranked passing game of the Bearcats.

According to AAC ratings, the Cincinnati offensive passing attack is ranked first in the conference, while the Houston pass defense is only ranked second. The Cougars passing game is ranked sixth, compared to the ninth-ranked pass defense of the Bearcats.

According to overall FBS team rankings, Houston is rated higher in the ground game on both sides of the ball. Its 55th-ranked rushing attack will face the 80th-ranked run defense of Cincinnati, while its 31st-ranked rush defense will look to contain the 71st-ranked running game of the Bearcats.

The Houston offensive ground attack is ranked second in the AAC this year, compared to the seventh-ranked rush defense of Cincinnati.

Aaron Ryan

Andrew Ryan has been in the sportswriting biz since the late-90s, and he has worked side by side with some of the best and brightest in sports gambling. Always searching for the best trends in sports, Andrew uses his brilliant math mind to his advantage to beat the books.