The Cincinnati Bearcats will be trying to remain undefeated when they visit the Temple Owls at Lincoln Financial Field on Saturday afternoon. Cincinnati most recently improved to 6-0 with a victory over Tulane two weeks ago. The Owls are coming off consecutive wins over East Carolina and Navy.
Solid on both sides
Since scoring just 47 total points in its first two games of the season, Cincinnati’s offense has taken off. In their last four contests, the Bearcats have put up 63, 34, 49, and 37 points. Quarterback Desmond Ridder is perhaps most to thank for his team’s offensive surge. The freshman is completing 65.6 percent of his passes for 1,062 yards, 10 touchdowns, and just two interceptions. He has tossed at least two scoring strikes in each of the last four games after combining for just one through his first two games. Ridder’s favorite targets are Josiah Deguara and Kahlil Lewis, who have combined for 529 receiving yards and six touchdowns. With the Louisville, Kent. native spreading the ball around as if he is really a seasoned veteran, six different Cincinnati pass-catchers already have double-digit receptions on the season. Ridder is supported by a rushing attack that is averaging 255.5 yards per contest; Michael Warren II leads the way with 664 rushing yards and 11 touchdowns.
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On the defensive side of the ball, Cincinnati is allowing a mere 13.7 points and 270.3 yards per game. Junior linebacker Perry Young tops the team chart with 29 tackles, while senior defensive tackle Cortez Broughton has four sacks and sophomore safety James Wiggins has two interceptions.
Russo better than so-so
Temple quarterback Anthony Russo does not have a ton of experience as a sophomore, but he stands at 6’4” and is displaying both a big arm and a knack for making big plays at crucial moments in games. He once again delivered when it mattered most during the Owls’ 24-17 victory over Navy , finding Ventell Bryant for a 62-yard touchdown pass midway through the fourth quarter that broke a 17-17 tie. Bryant, who who finished with eight catches for 147 yards, has made at least one reception in 42 straight games–tied for the longest active streak in the FBS.
But the Owls were arguably more lucky than good against the Midshipmen. A Navy running back appeared to score a go-ahead touchdown from 30 yards away before it was called back because of an illegal block on center Ford Higgins.
“I thought it killed us,” Navy head coach Ken Niumatalolo said of the penalty. “I know I’m going to get reprimanded. I don’t care. I’ll take the fine. It was a horrible call; just a flat-out horrible call. It was one of the worst I’ve seen in my 29 years of coaching…. It cost us the game. I thought the call changed the game.”
Whatever the case, the key for Temple moving forward is for Russo to continue his fine form. Prior to his performances in back-to-back wins over East Carolina and Navy, the Doylestown, Penn. native had been unspectacular at best. He threw just one touchdown pass and was picked off five times in his first four games of the 2018 campaign.
The Temple Owls are:
- 11-4 Under in their last 15 games following a win
- 11-4 Under in their last 15 games on grass
- 13-4 Under in their last 17 games after allowing less than 20 points in their previous game
The Cincinnati Bearcats are:
- 5-1 ATS in their last six overall
- 4-1 ATS in their last five road games
- 4-1 ATS in their last five games following a win
The Bottom Line What to bet on this game.
Full-Game Side Bet
This begins a rough stretch for the Owls, who face Central Florida right after Cincinnati and play three of their last four games on the road–including against the Knights. In the words of New England Patriots head coach Bill Belichick, Temple may not exclusively be “on to Cincinnati.” An extra week of rest for Cincinnati heading into this one will only help the Bearcats. Ridder, meanwhile, is on fire. It is worth noting that the road team is 7-1 ATS in the last eight head-to-head meetings.
Prediction: Cincinnati Bearcats
Full-Game Total Pick
Temple running back Ryquell Armstead missed this past weekend’s game against Navy due to an ankle injury. Without Armstead, the Owls averaged a disappointing 3.2 yards per rush against Navy. They will need a much better performance against a strong Cincinnati defense. The under is 5-1 in the Bearcats’ last six on the road. It is also 11-4 in Temple’s last 15 following a win and 13-4 in their last 17 after allowing less than 20 points in their previous outing. Look for this one to stay under the total.