When and where: November 10, 2018, Nippert Stadium, Cincinnati, OH, 7:00 PM ET
The South Florida Bulls hope to rebound from back-to-back losses when they go on the road to take on the Cincinnati Bearcats. Houston and Tulane both scored 41-plus points on the Bulls defense the last couple weeks. They hope to have a better showing against a Bearcat offense averaging 35 points per game. The Bearcats are coming off consecutive wins over Navy and SMU.
Evolution of Cincinnati’s defense
Navy ran up and down the field on Cincinnati’s defense last season. It was literally a run-option clinic as the Midshipmen piled on 569 total rushing yards.
Navy quarterback Zach Abey was at the center of that offensive dominance, rushing for 128 yards and two touchdowns on 20 carries. Cincinnati went home after that game flat-out disappointed and confused as to how they could give up that many yards on the ground.
It’s amazing how much can change in a year.
The Bearcats came prepared in last Saturday’s rematch on the defensive front, shutting out Navy, 42-0, and holding that monstrous ground game in check for 124 yards. Abey only rushed for 37 yards on 28 carries this time out. The improved defensive showing from Cincinnati was a strong reminder of the importance of scheming.
“It came together today – to really see the true complementary football thriving off of one another.”@CoachFick shares his thoughts with the media following today’s impressive win over Navy. pic.twitter.com/eke6teZxQ3
— Cincinnati Football (@GoBearcatsFB) November 4, 2018
After getting gashed by Navy the previous year, the Cincinnati coaching staff went back to the drawing board and found the solution, which was obviously stacking the box with eight players. That has been the story for most of the season for the Bearcats.
They keep finding ways to win.
Defensive struggles hurting the Bulls down the stretch
After going unbeaten for the first seven games of the season, the South Florida Bulls are now pressing the panic button after losing back-to-back games ahead of a titular match-up with Cincinnati. They aren’t in a good place to be going on the road against one of the best teams in the American Conference.
The problems for South Florida boil down to defense.
They clearly can’t stop the run against a viable rushing offense, as evident in the 365 yards they gave up on the ground to Tulane’s two running backs, Darius Bradwell and Corey Dauphine. Their pass defense hasn’t been any better. Houston quarterback D’Eriq King threw for 419 yards and five touchdowns, along with tacking on 132 rushing yards and two rushing touchdowns in a 57-36 win over the Bulls nearly two weeks ago.
However, it was both an offense and a defense problem last Saturday against Tulane, who held them to only 15 points.
- Bearcats are 5-2 ATS in their last 7 games after a win
- Bearcats are 5-1 ATS in their last 6 games following a win of more than 20 points
- Bearcats are 5-2 ATS in their last 7 head-to-head meetings in Cincinnati
- Home team is 5-1 ATS in their last 6 head-to-head meetings
- Bulls are 0-4 ATS in their last 4 games following a straight up loss of more than 20 points
- Bulls are 0-5 ATS in their last 5 games within their conference
- Bulls are 2-5 ATS in their last 7 games when playing on fieldturf
- Bulls are 3-8 ATS in their last 11 games on the road
The Bottom Line What to bet on this game.
Full-Game Side Bet
The Bulls are finally running into better teams that are capable of making them pay for their offensive and defensive mistakes. It won’t be any different going on the road to Cincinnati at Nippert Stadium, where the Bearcats have yet to lose a game this season.
Cincinnati quarterback Desmond Ridder should present similar problems the Bulls faced against King when they were blown out by Houston. He’s a dual-threat quarterback in the pocket with the ability to turn on the jet burners to escape from danger with his legs. The Bulls haven’t been disciplined up front in their last two games, and I have little faith in that suddenly changing in a week.
South Florida’s defense is giving up an average of 248.2 rushing yards per game, and the Bearcats should be able to feast in that area. Not being able to stop the run also puts tremendous stress on the backend of the defense, where the defensive backs tend to come down to help out in the run box. That enabled King to have a monster day throwing the football, and it’ll do the same for Ridder.
Prediction: Cincinnati Bearcats (-13.5)
Full-Game Total Pick
The over is 13-3 in the Bulls’ last 16 games against teams with a winning record and 20-8 in the Bearcats’ last 28 games played in the month of November. South Florida’s defense is hemorrhaging yards and points in recent games, and the Bearcats are good enough on offense to take advantage. The over is a solid bet in this game with the line only being 57 points.
Prediction: Over (57)