Last Two Weeks:
Thursday, October 9
BYU at UCF (-3.5) — 7:30 p.m. — ESPN
Without Taysom Hill, the prognosis looks bleak for the Cougars. The CFP bid is out of the question and the Miami Beach Bowl bid already locked up, so there’s less motivation. Add in the fact that the Cougars will a senior quarterback that completed his first pass last week (10-for-29, by the way) and that the defense showed holes against Utah State, and it’s hard to hop on the Cougs’ bandwagon. That said, UCF’s offense has been pedestrian — at best — this season. The Knights’ surprising defense has bailed them out so far this season, but UCF needs a breakout game from Justin Holman desperately. I don’t know if they get it this week, but I’ll certainly put my money on Holman over Christian Stewart any day of the week. Expect UCF to pull away late.
BYU - 24
UCF - 36
Cincinnati at Miami (-16.5) — Noon — ACCNet
A nooner in Miami is the definition of adverse conditions, and making matters worse, the Bearcats will be without quarterback Gunner Kiel (though Munchie Legaux is a more-than-capable backup.) The story isn’t about the Cincy offense though — it’s their defense that’s the problem. It’s hard to imagine that the No. 123 rushing defense in the country will do much to stop Duke Johnson.
That said, Miami has been a linesmaker darling, and for the fourth week in a row, I’m thinking Vegas has overestimated the Hurricanes. These are two similar teams. The Hurricanes’ offense is better than currently credited (6.07 yards per play vs. Power 5 opponents), but while Cincy has the best offense in the country (8.12 yards per play vs. P5 teams). Cincy might have defensive woes, but they’re not alone — Miami’s defense resembles nine traffic cones placed around Denzel Perryman and Deon Bush. If Kiel was in the game, the line would be drastically different. Without him, the Hurricanes should win — but don’t sleep on Munchie, who is talented and experienced enough to make this a game. Consider taking a flyer on a Bearcats outright victory if you can get a nice number — but certainly Cincy and the points, even if they’ll only backdoor generous number.
Cincinnati - 35
Miami - 41
Tulsa at Temple (-13) — Noon — ESPNews
Tulsa is dead. They cannot run the ball, or stop the run. They can’t pass it or stop the pass. They’re even struggling in special teams. Temple likes to play to competition, and they haven’t fully proven that the blowout win against Vanderbilt is a week-in, week-out standard. That said, Tulsa is terrible and Temple is rested — I wouldn’t touch this game, personally, but if you must, the easiest expectation is for Tulsa to stink.
Tulsa - 20
Temple - 34
East Carolina (-15.5) at USF — 7 p.m. — ESPNU
I’m told by my Tampa friends that South Florida is improved, and that they stand a chance against East Carolina. Perhaps they are improved, but I remember when Western Carolina completed 46-of-67 pass attempts against the Bulls in Week One. The Bulls, in fact, have allowed 60 percent passing in each of their games this season. The Bulls are weak against the pass and ECU is as potent a passing offense as currently exists in our fine nation. Add in a USF offense in flux (averaging 233 yards per game against FBS opponents) and it’s impossible for me to see anything but a blowout Saturday night — especially when you factor in that ECU didn’t play up to its standards against SMU last week and will be looking for reconciliation. Cover your eyes, the Pirates will be plundering.
ECU - 56
USF - 17
Houston at Memphis (-4) — 7 p.m. — CBS Sports Network
Newsflash: Memphis is the favorite to win the AAC. Yep, Memphis.
Excluding a Friday-night game at Temple on Nov. 7, this week’s matchup with Houston is the toughest game Memphis has left on its schedule. ECU should also go undefeated in 2014, but they still have games at Cincinnati (which should have Kiel back and in stride) and vs. UCF. Memphis gets SMU, Tulsa, Tulane, USF and UConn.
This could be a let-down game for Memphis though. Houston has benched John O’Korn in favor of Greg Ward, and his dual-threatiness could throw a wrench into the proceedings. But I’m still on the Memphis bandwagon. The offense poked more holes in a porous Cincy defense last week, they’re getting turnovers and protecting the ball, and in the red zone, they’re deadly efficient — 17 touchdowns on 22 visits. Houston isn’t a bad team, but they’re not in Memphis’ class right now. Man, what a weird season it has been.
Houston - 23
Memphis - 31
UConn at Tulane (-4) — 8 p.m. — ESPNews
Don’t watch this game. Flip to CBS Sports or ESPNU or any of the other million channels that exist. Watch HouseHunters and yell at your television. Submit to your significant other and watch that art house or action film they’ve been pleading with you to watch. Re-paint your bedroom walls. Clean your toilet bowl. Stab yourself in the foot repeatedly. All of these are better activities than watching these two boring and terrible teams play football. Hell, Tulane isn’t even good at punting — how can you be a bad team and not have a decent punter? UConn can’t score, but isn’t half-bad on defense, and Tulane is astonishingly mediocre at everything. It’s a coin-flip game, so take the points — but if you’re in any way involved in this game, seek professional help.
UConn - 24
Tulane - 25