Game Time: 7:00pm EST
Records: Cincy 6-1 (3-0 AAC), ECU 3-5 (0-4 AAC)
Line: Cincy -24, O/U 48
Venue: Dowdy-Ficklen Stadium, Greenville, NC
The Pirates are coming off an embarrassing loss on Homecoming last Saturday as the Bulls of USF ran all-over them. The Pirates lost the game in the first half as they trailed 35-10 at the break. They have been accustomed to slow starts this season and even when they do get themselves back in the game, the deficit is too big to overcome.
As for the Bearcats, they are coming off a bye this past week. Cincy is currently on a 5-game winning streak led by a defense that creates turnovers. The Bearcats are in position to possibly reach a New Years’ Six Bowl. Therefore, a slip-up is not an option for this team.
The Pirates were absolutely humiliated last year by the Bearcats as Cincy won 56-6. The question will be can the Pirates get off to a decent start to make this game interesting or will the Bearcats roll through the Pirates once again?
Why the Pirates Will Win
Let’s be honest here, ECU is going to have to play a near-perfect game to just potentially have a chance against the Bearcats. First, Holton Ahlers needs to be smart and not turn the ball over. The Bearcats defense is extremely opportunistic in creating turnovers and giving their offense a short-field.
So, the Pirates will need to wear down the Bearcats and control time of possession and shorten this game. The team will need to convert third-downs even though the Pirates are the second worst on third down in the AAC and go on those 8, 9, 10 play drives to be successful.
Defensively, the potential of slowing down Cincinnati is possible as they did struggle against Tulsa but the defense is so good, it allows the offense to have so many opportunities. The Pirates will have to limit drives and hold the Bearcats to field goals.
Why Cincy Will Win
Cincy will win because of their high-flying defense. The Bearcats lead FBS with 19 takeaways this season. The defense is special led by Darrick Forrest and Bryan Wright. The team will slow down the Pirates offense and give their offense short-fields.
Offensively, the Bearcats rely on QB Desmond Ridder who will be dynamic throwing and running the football which will keep the Pirates all over the place. The Pirates defense struggles when they are challenged in the trenches so Cincy will take over the trenches to score.
Players to Watch
QB: Holton Ahlers
RB: Demetrius Mauney
LB: Bruce Bivens
DB: Daniel Charles
QB: Desmond Ridder
RB: Michael Warren II
DB: Darrick Forrest
LB: Bryan Wright
The Pirates will come out to a slow start due to that daunting Bearcats defense who will create several turnovers and short fields for their offense. Desmond Ridder will throw and run for two touchdowns. The Bearcats will win easily on Saturday.
Bearcats 38, Pirates 14