Start Time: 7:30 PM, Saturday, November 14.
Location: Nippert Stadium, Cincinnati, Ohio.
Live Stats: Here
Line: Cincinnati -18; Over/under: 76
For the Cincinnati Bearcats, it feels like they should be playing for a lot more. Sitting at 5-4 on the season, Cincy's four losses have come by a combined 32 points to teams with a 32-4 record between them. Who are those four teams, you ask? You might be familiar with them: Temple, Memphis, BYU and Houston. All four are or have been nationally ranked, and the Bearcats were within striking distance in each game. Then again, they did lose those games, so the results are what they are.
As for Tulsa, the Golden Hurricane enters tomorrow night's game on a two game winning streak and will be trying to make it back to the postseason for the first time since 2012.
When Cincinnati has the ball
While much of the attention and focus this season has gone to Houston, Memphis, Temple and Navy, the Bearcats have quietly assembled the number one offense in the AAC. Cincinnati is averaging a mind boggling 578.2 yards per game, with much of that coming from a passing game that also leads the conference with 387.6 yards per game. Since he returned from a neck injury three games ago, Gunner Kiel has been on a tear. In those three games, Kiel is 69-101 for 1169 yards, 11 TD, and two picks. He's also averaging 9.6 yards per attempt, while completing 66% of his passes. Kiel's favorite target is Shaq Washington, who has caught 59 passes for 704 yards and five touchdowns. Chris Moore is the other favored target, with five TD catches of his own.
It's not called on much, but the run game has done a good job of keeping the wearing down defenses when the passing game isn't scoring. Tion Green and Hosey Williams are the feature backs, with nearly identical numbers. Green has rushed 556 yards on 108 carries and five TDs, while Williams has 567 yards on 100 carries and three touchdowns.
When Tulsa has the ball
You might find this hard to believe, but defense isn't very high up on the priority list of the Golden Hurricane. Instead, much of their success comes from the passing game, which is ranked third in the conference. Dane Evans has passed for 2938 yards (326.4 yards per game) and 17 TDs on the season, so he should break the 3000-yard barrier tomorrow night. He's averaging 9.1 yards per attempt, while completing 61% of his passes. Better yet for Tulsa, he has not one, but two playmakers out wide. Keyarris Garrett is the main target, with 65 receptions for 996 yards and five touchdowns on the year. Next, Josh Atkinson has 44 catches for 706 yards and three touchdowns. Garrett is tied for the team lead in touchdown catches with Keevan Lucas, who also has five on the year.
Unlike the Bearcats, Tulsa also has the ability to put points on the board with the running game. Zack Langer is the leading rusher, averaging 90 yards per game with 14 rushing touchdowns on the year.
What won't happen
I feel like it's a pretty safe assumption that there won't be a whole lot of defensive stops tomorrow night. Cincy is allowing 382.2 yards per game, while Tulsa is second to last in the conference, allowing 519 yards per game. These two couldn't stop each other even if they wanted to.
As is usually the case with these two teams, moving the chains and scoring points won't be a problem. Given that neither side is that interested in defense, this one will probably come down to which team holds serve in terms of getting in the end zone. The ability to come away with touchdowns will be the deciding factor, and since Cincinnati is much more efficient in that regard, they'll find a way to win and become bowl eligible.
Cincinnati 49 - Tulsa 28