DATE: Saturday, November 7th
START TIME: 2:30pm CT
HOW TO WATCH: ABC
LINE: Cincinnati -13.5
LOCATION: Nippert Stadium (Cincinnati, OH)
A bad game was bound to hit the Houston Cougars eventually, and it’s not about how they bounce back. The loss to UCF wasn’t pretty, but this weekend presents an even tougher challenge. If Houston wants to show its resiliency, they’ll compete at a high level against the best team in the conference, and will speak volumes to this team’s demeanor.
Clayton Tune didn’t have a great game against a Knights defense missing four starters, and now he faces a Cincinnati team that’s one of the best in all of college football. His decision making last week resulted in a couple turnovers, but he’s lucky he didn’t have more. Throwing into double coverage isn’t normally a smart decision, and this week it will result in more turnovers. The Bearcats don’t miss. I’m excited to watch the Houston receivers against that secondary, though, as I think it will be a great matchup. If Marquez Stevenson’s healthy and ready to go, he’ll give them an explosive threat that they missed dearly last week.
The offensive line will also face a tough test when they face a deep and talented Bearcats defensive line. Houston’s run game hasn’t been bad, but it hasn’t exactly dominated either. Cincinnati allowed just three yards rushing last week against Memphis, and they’re allowing just 97 yards per game on the ground. Kyle Porter and Mulbah Car have proven to be solid runners, but it’s tough to see them thriving this weekend.
Desmond Ridder took a step forward as a passer against the worse pass defense in the country, and it might be the confidence he needed to get the offense going. The passing attack has been the one thing holding the offense back, and Cincinnati’s a dangerous team if they can find a balanced approach.
If you’re a Houston fan, you have to feel worried about facing this Bearcats defense. Cincinnati just held two of the best offenses in the conference in check when they held SMU to 13 points and Memphis to 10. Houston’s offense is still learning about their personnel and how to be explosive consistently, so it could be a long day for them. It’s hard to pick out one group that’s solely responsible for Cincinnati’s success. Defensive coordinator Marcus Freeman is one of the best coaches in the country, and he’s found a way to build depth and talent at every position. In a sport where defense normally takes a holiday, the Bearcats continue to stifle everyone they face.
When I first looked at the line, 13.5 points seemed like a lot, but the more I think about it the more I’m okay with it. Cincinnati dominates in multiple ways, and it’s hard to find a way that teams can consistently beat them. Houston struggled against a defense that can’t even touch what Cincinnati does, and that’s the biggest concern this week. If the Coogs defense can’t keep the Bearcats in check, it’s going to be tough to keep up. CINCINNATI 31 HOUSTON 14