The Memphis Tigers travel up north to Ohio for a meeting with the Cincinnati Bearcats. Memphis already has their sixth win for a bowl game, but this team is certainly not as good as what they had with Paxton Lynch at the controls last season. Nevertheless, I am sure Memphis will make for a good bowl game. Conversely, Cincinnati needs to find two wins before the end of the season. One of them will have to happen against Memphis. The Bearcats have been flat, really flat and will need a better effort to pull off the win tonight. Their once pretty good offense has reverted into a lifeless dumpster fire. Quarterback Gunner Kiel has not looked the same since his first season as the starter. His head just doesn’t look into it.
Kiel passed for 31 touchdowns and 13 interceptions in 2013-14, and then 19 touchdowns and 13 interceptions last season. He without notice went home just before the Bearcats’ bowl game last season, stating he left for family reasons. This season he started as a third-stringer. Kiel started his career at Notre Dame, ultimately transferring to Cincinnati after two years. All the way to Notre Dame, to lighting it up as a Bearcat, to a third-stringer. Kiel has gotten some playing time this season, sharing time with Hayden Moore primarily. Neither have gotten the offense in motion, as they’ve kind of lingered in limbo. Kiel has passed for 6 touchdowns and 2 interceptions, but he is hovering around 50 percent in completions.
Moore was pegged as the starter this season, but hasn’t proven to be a reliable option. He’s passed for 7 touchdowns and 5 interceptions, along with a completion percentage of 56 percent. Neither had a touchdown pass last week, but they did contribute 2 interceptions in a 24-3 loss. The offense has scored only 6 points in two weeks, with another loss the previous week, a 20-3 loss to BYU. Kiel started that entire game and threw another interception. Memphis doesn’t boast the most attractive defense, so if they can’t get anything here I’m afraid no one cares.
Kiel has proven he has talent, but after his bizarre exit from the team before last year’s bowl game, and then being demoted to third-stringer I think there is something going on behind the scenes with this guy. The Bearcats will still their best to get to a bowl game, maybe Kiel will show up this time? We move on tonight after a disastrous performance by the Louisville Cardinals last night. More college football playoff chaos and it’s only Friday.
Memphis Tigers vs. Cincinnati Bearcats NCAAF Betting Odds:
vs. Cincinnati +7.5(-110)
Under 58.5 (-110)
Odds provided by Bovada.lv
Memphis vs. Cincinnati Pick:
Does Cincinnati have the horses to take advantage of the porous Memphis defense? The Bearcats are 122nd in the nation, scoring just 18.8 points per game. That isn’t going to work in college football. With the kind of offenses who can put up over 40 points with ease, 18.8 points is going to get you nowhere but the toilet. The passing game was a little more effective earlier in the season, as they are still 44th in yards per game through the air. But as you could see from what I said earlier, there is no passing game to be had for them now. Cincinnati are 118th running the ball, so if there is no passing being facilitated, then what are they going to do?
If Kiel decides not to play, well, I should say decide not to study for his upcoming opponent, the Bearcats are totally dependent on their defense. The defense has played relatively well, allowing 24.9 points per game. Although, if you look at them from a yardage perspective, they are giving up 413 yards per game for 71st in the FBS. Riley Ferguson has passed for 24 touchdowns and 9 interceptions this season for Memphis. They miss Paxton Lynch, but Ferguson has not been a bad option at all. He is a true pocket passer, just like Lynch.
Memphis are tied with Florida State for 34th in the country for yards per game. Additionally, the Tigers are 15th in points scored a game with just under 40 points. How does Cincinnati cover this game? If Memphis comes in thinking this is going to be a joke of a game, I think I give the Bearcats a chance at hanging in this one. However, Cincinnati have scored just 6 points in their last two games, including an average of 6.3 in their last three games. I don’t see them keeping up with Memphis tonight. Something in the ballpark of 33-20 in favor of Memphis looks reasonable.
PICK: MEMPHIS -7.5 (-110)