Championship Saturday is finally here and we have some great games this weekend. In the AAC, Memphis and Cincinnati just faced each other last week and Memphis won by the score of 34-24. The Bearcats will try and bounce back after suffering their second loss of the season. App State and Louisiana will battle for the Sun Belt title for the second consecutive season. UAB will try to win their second straight C-USA championship as they head to Boca Raton to take on FAU who has not lost a game since mid October. Here are my initial thoughts on Championship Saturday.
Cincinnati at Memphis
Spread: Cincinnati + 9.5
The Tigers beat Cincinnati last week and the win gave them the home field advantage for the title game. Memphis has averaged 40 points per game at home, and the crowd will be electric in the Liberty Bowl Saturday afternoon. The Bearcats played well last week with backup quarterback Ben Bryant getting the start for the injured Desmond Ridder. Ridder has been hampered by a shoulder injury but if healthy he will get the start. Head coach Luke Fickell should feel confident with both players after Bryant’s performance last week. Cincinnati controlled the tempo and won the time of possession battle by nine minutes. Look for a similar game plan this weekend. I like the Bearcats to play well and keep this game close.
Cincinnati should keep this game close and cover the 9.5 spread
Louisiana at App State
Total Points: 56
This will be the fourth time these teams have met in the past two years with App State winning the previous three games. These teams know each other well, and I expect another hard fought game Saturday in Boone. App State and Louisiana are the top two defensive teams in the Sun Belt by a large margin. Earlier this season, the Mountaineers beat Louisiana 17 to 7 in a defensive struggle. Both teams also have elite rushing attacks that average well over 200 yards a game on the ground which should keep the clock running. The past three games have all gone well under the total, and I anticipate another low scoring affair.
I’m leaning under 56 points in this matchup
UAB at FAU
Total Points: 50
The Blazers have one of the top defenses in all of college football. They are fifth in total yards allowed and fifth in rushing yards allowed per game. Dylan Hopkins has started at quarterback for the injured Tyler Johnston and has led UAB to a 3-1 record. Hopkins is a freshman who is getting better with each game, but he is only completing 53% of his passes and is only averaging 120 passing yards over the past four games. The Owls are rolling, and quarterback Chris Robison has over 3,000 passing yards with 22 touchdowns. His top target is Harrison Bryant who is one of the top tight ends in the country and a future NFL draft pick. FAU has played very well on defense, and over the past five games allowed only 15 points per game. As the week moves on, check the availability of UAB’s Tyler Johnston if he doesn’t play the Blazers will have trouble moving the ball.
I like the under 50 points in this game
Hawaii at Boise State
Spread: Boise State - 13.5
The Broncos destroyed Hawaii earlier this season by the score of 59 to 37. Boise State has had a number of injuries this year especially at the quarterback position where three separate players have seen action. Jaylon Henderson has started the past three games and has produced solid numbers. The Rainbow Warriors have also had questions at quarterback with Cole McDonald and and Chevan Cordeiro splitting time. McDonald was great last week in the win over Army, so I would assume he will get the start against Boise. Both teams can score, but Boise State has a much more reliable defense which could be the key in the game. Hawaii has allowed over 30 points eight times this year and they give up over 200 yards per game on the ground. Hawaii has had a great season, but Boise State is the better team and has the home field advantage. Look for the Broncos to pull away in the second half and win by at least two touchdowns.
I favor the Broncos to win and cover the spread