The Cincinnati Bearcats will be looking to stay undefeated when they visit the Connecticut Huskies at Rentschler Field on Saturday afternoon. Cincinnati has opened its season with victories over UCLA, Miami (OH), Alabama A&M, and Ohio. The Huskies are 1-3 following a recent setback against Syracuse.
Every team Connecticut has faced this season has been undefeated at the time. Syracuse remained as such last weekend, improving to 4-0 with a 51-21 rout of the Huskies. Now it is Cincinnati that is 4-0 following a competitive and comeback win over Ohio and hoping to go 5-0 on Saturday. Bearcats quarterback Desmond Ridder received honorable mention from the American Athletic for his performance against the Bobcats, as he went 19-of-29 for 274 yards and two touchdowns to go along with an additional score on the ground.
A big reason for Cincinnati’s success is the proficiency of the offensive line. Garrett Campbell is in the midst of his final go-around with the Bearcats, who are off to their first 4-0 start since 2012. A former starting guard with the ability to play tackle, Campbell was asked to move to center for the 2018 campaign. Early returns are outstanding, as he is the anchor for a line that has paved the way for the most improved rushing offense among all 130 FBS programs. Cincinnati averaged a mere 90.5 rushing yards per game through the first four contests in 2017. Right now they are churning out 235.2 yards per game on the ground this season. The Bearcats are one of seven teams seeing an increase of more than 100 rushing yards per contest.
Wounds on defense
Connecticut head coach Randy Edsall has cited his team’s lack of consistency both on and off the field as perhaps the biggest reason why it is enduring a 1-3 start. Against Syracuse, for example, one unidentified player was slow getting onto the field because he was not paying attention on the sideline. Edsall also noted that most of the 636 yards the Huskies surrendered to the Orange came on just a few huge plays on which defenders failed to execute simple responsibilities. Connecticut is now conceding 54.5 points per game, which ranks last in FBS by more than 10 points. It has also allowed 664 total yards per game, which ranks last in FBS by more than 100 yards. Edsall indicated that linebacker Marshe Terry’s ankle injury is fairly serious and will likely force him to miss several weeks. With Terry out, freshman Ian Swenson will continue to see significant playing time.
“It’s about doing things the right way and controlling the things you can control and putting the effort in to doing things you can do to make yourself better in each and every situation,” Edsall said following the setback at Syracuse. “Make yourself better in the meeting room, make yourself better in the weight room and then go out and practice that way each and every day so it just becomes a habit…. We’re trying to break habits some of these guys have had for 17 years.”
The Connecticut Huskies are:
- 14-37-2 ATS in their last 53 overall
- 7-21-1 ATS in their last 29 home games
- 2-5-1 ATS in their last eight games against teams with winning records
The Cincinnati Bearcats are:
- 5-2 ATS in their last seven games against Connecticut
- 4-1 Under in their last five road games
- 4-0 Under in their last four games against Connecticut
The Bottom Line What to bet on this game.
Full-Game Side Bet
“A lot of the issues that we’re having is because of the people that we’re playing,” Edsall pointed out. “When you take a look at the schedule, you take a look at the records of those people and the teams that they have, and the people we’re playing have a lot to do with maybe us…being a little bit inconsistent with what’s happening.” Unfortunately for Edsall and company, it does not get any easier on Saturday. Cincinnati is off to a hot start in the second year of head coach Luke Fickell’s tenure. Last season the Bearcats won just four games and they have already matched that total in 2018. Cincinnati beat Connecticut 22-21 in the final game of the 2017 regular season.
Prediction: Cincinnati Bearcats
Full-Game Total Pick
Speaking of Connecticut being inconsistent, that is how Edsall defined his backup quarterback’s play last Saturday. Marvin Washington replaced David Pindell in the fourth quarter last weekend, in part because Pindell was limping and also because Edsall wanted to give the freshman some valuable playing time. Washington went 2-for-5 with 66 yards, one touchdown, and one interception. The under is 4-1 in the Bearcats’ last five on the road, 20-6 in their last 26 against losing opponents, 5-1 in their last six on grass. It is also 6-2 in the Huskies’ last eight at home against opponents with winning road records. Additionally, the under is 4-0 in the last four meetings between the two teams. Look for this one to stay under the total.
Half-Time Side Pick
Pindell has thrown at least one interception in three of Connecticut’s four games this season. He will have to eliminate turnovers if he wants to keep the underdogs close against Cincinnati on Saturday. The Huskies have scored a mere 14 total first-half points in their three losses.
Prediction: Cincinnati Bearcats -10
Half-Time Total Bet
Connecticut’s offense, which has been especially bad in the first halves of games, put up 56 points on Rhode Island but has otherwise been kept to no more than 21 points. Cincinnati has posted one complete shutout and another first-half shutout so far in 2018.
Prediction: Under 30