The Indiana Hoosiers (3-0) will travel to Ohio to face the Cincinnati Bearcats (2-1) on Saturday. The Bearcats are a 16.5-point favorite and the total is set at 57.
Last season, the Bearcats went to Indiana on September 18th and won 38-24.
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Has Indiana been playing down to its competition?The Hoosiers opened up the season with a 23-20 conference win over Illinois as a one-point favorite. In their two non-conference wins, they failed to cover beating Idaho 35-22 as a 24.5-point favorite and took down Western Kentucky 33-30 in overtime last Saturday as a seven-point favorite. Cam Camper is the top target with 23 catches for 292 yards. He had 11 catches for 156 yards in the season opener against Illinois.
Hitting the road this week. pic.twitter.com/2gQKjIdPmk— Indiana Football (@IndianaFootball) September 21, 2022
Indiana is 24th in the nation averaging 297 passing yards per game and 97th with 131 rushing yards. The Hoosiers offense is led by Missouri transfer Connor Bazelak who has completed 56.6% of his passes for five touchdowns and two interceptions.
The defense has struggled, ranking 118th allowing 446 total yards. They are 94th against the pass allowing 255 yards, and 109th allowing 191 rushing yards per game.
Going for Power 5 winComing off a historic season, the Cincinnati Bearcats lost their season-opening game 31-24 to then No. 19 ranked Arkansas. Following the loss, the Bearcats then routed FCS opponent Kennesaw State 63-10 as a 29-point favorite and beat rival Miami (Ohio) 38-17 as a 24-point favorite.
The Bearcats' numbers have been good on both sides. Cincinnati is 16th averaging 319.7 passing yards per game and 73rd averaging 160.7 passing yards. Quarterback Ben Bryant who was with the program from 2018-2020 is now back after playing last season at Eastern Michigan. Bryant has completed 70.1% of his passes and has seven touchdowns and two interceptions.
On defense, the Bearcats are 28th allowing just 294.3 yards per game. They are 11th in the nation allowing just 150 passing yards per game, and 74th holding the opposition to 144.3 yards per game.
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Full-Game Side Bet
Cincinnati did win by 14 on the road last season. Still, both teams lost a lot as the Bearcats are 103rd in returning production and Indiana is 113th in the nation in returning production, according to Phil Steele magazine.
The Hoosiers haven't been impressive early on as they trailed Idaho 10-0 at the half and went into the fourth quarter last week trailing Western Kentucky 24-13. I do believe that the Hoosiers did not go into the Idaho and Western Kentucky games properly respecting their opponents, and Western Kentucky is a much better team than they get credit for. This week Indiana knows they have to bring a better effort or they could get embarrassed. Indiana is not Arkansas, but they will pose a bigger challenge than what Cincinnati has seen in its last two wins. The Bearcats are the better team, but laying more than two touchdowns is too much for me.
Full-Game Total Pick
Both of these teams are in the top 25 in passing yards per game. The glaring difference is that the Bearcats have allowed the 11th fewest passing yards, and Indiana has given up a lot of yardage by air and land and are 118th overall in total yardage allowed.
The Hoosiers only rushed for 32 yards when they played Illinois this season, which will put a lot on Bazelak, and I don't see him lighting up this tough Bearcats defense. On the other side, although the Bearcats will have offensive success, I expect them to control the ball and not put up any crazy numbers, as they are efficient but not highly explosive. I will take the under, with Cincinnati winning 31-17.