The Tulsa Golden Hurricane and Cincinnati Bearcats made it to the AAC Championship on Saturday. I don’t want to say that Cincinnati getting to the conference championship is surprising, but Tulsa might be slightly surprising. This is a conference that includes Memphis, SMU, and UCF, so it’s kind of surprising to see a matchup featuring Tulsa and Cincinnati.
In a season like this, nothing should come as a surprise, though. I’m looking forward to next fall when we’ll have some form of normalcy in college football. At least teams will have a full schedule, and players will presumably be vaccinated since then. Hopefully Covid outbreaks in locker rooms will be a thing of the past. Tulsa and Cincinnati both deserve to be in this game. Let’s get that much clear.
This isn’t an Oregon situation where the conference championship fell into their laps. Tulsa and Cincinnati are both ranked, with the Golden Hurricane the No. 24 team in the nation against the No. 9 at home. The Bearcats are looking to stay undefeated in the AAC Championship tonight. They are a perfect 8-0 and are in a position to get a great bowl invite if they win.
Motivation might be a problem for some teams this late in the season, but for Cincinnati, they’re going to be into this game and would gladly accept a bowl invite to a big game. It will be imperative not to overlook the 6-1 Golden Hurricane, though. Tulsa has looked terrific at times and are going to be fired up to be in this spot as well. They will have to earn the championship against a very dangerous Cincinnati team in their own backyard. Head below for our free Tulsa vs. Cincinnati pick for December 19, 2020.
Tulsa Golden Hurricane vs. Cincinnati Bearcats AAC Championship Betting Odds:
Tulsa vs. Cincinnati Prediction:
Ball State’s win over Buffalo in the MAC Championship should be a clear message to Cincinnati. They shouldn’t take Tulsa lightly despite entering Saturday night as a sizable favorite. Tulsa goes into Saturday on a six-game winning streak. Their only loss this season was in the opener against a Big 12 opponent.
Oklahoma State found Tulsa a little tougher than they anticipated. Tulsa didn’t win, but they hung in there for a 16-7 defeat. Since then, Tulsa has been perfect, though there have been some close calls. Tulsa needed overtime to beat Tulane, 30-24, and came 4 points away from losing to East Carolina, 34-30, and Navy, SMU, 28-24. They’re coming off a textbook 19-6 win over Navy on December 5.
Tulsa is based around their defense. If they don’t show up tonight, then Cincinnati can name the score at home. The Golden Hurricane have conceded 329.4 yards and 19.9 points per game in 2020. Quarterback Zach Smith has been serviceable enough to help move the ball and allow the defense to win games. Smith has passed for 11 touchdowns and 6 interceptions on 57.8% completions. Tulsa has averaged 27.7 per game in 2020.
Cincinnati’s defense will be by far the most difficult he’s faced this season. The Bearcats have allowed just 308.1 yards and 15 points per game. They’ve been especially good against the pass, with 195.6 yards allowed through the air. Cincinnati holds more of an advantage offensively. The Bearcats have been rolling on offense, with an average of 40.9 points scored per game.
Bearcats’ quarterback, Desmond Ridder, can be a load to handle. Even some good defenses have been abused by Ridder’s ability through the air and ground. Ridder is a dual-threat, and should be able to have a productive game versus Tulsa. He has passed for 16 touchdowns and 6 interceptions on 66.5% completions. Ridder has also gained 526 yards and 11 touchdowns on the ground. Tulsa are a good team, but Cincinnati are in a league of their own in the AAC. I see a 30-13 win in favor of the Bearcats to win and cover.