The biggest game in the American Athletic Conference to date is scheduled for Saturday afternoon. Respective AAC division leaders will collide as the SMU Mustangs take on the Cincinnati Bearcats. For Cincinnati in particular, it is another chance to impress the College Football Playoff committee and make a statement against a quality conference opponent. The college football betting odds list the home team as a double-digit favorite ahead of this SMU vs Cincinnati showdown.
SMU Mustangs (8-2 SU, 6-4 ATS) vs. Cincinnati Bearcats (10-0 SU, 5-5 ATS)
Date: Saturday, November 20, 2021Start Time: 3:30 PM ESTLocation: Nippert Stadium — Cincinnati, OHTV Coverage: ESPN
Just three weeks ago, this SMU vs Cincinnati matchup was on track to be a massive one. That was until the Mustangs finally took their first loss of the season against in-state rival Houston. Sonny Dykes’ team then stumbled again one week later with another one-score loss on the road to Memphis. With their hopes of an American Conference Championship Game berth all but gone, SMU is now resorted to playing for the best bowl game possible. They rebounded with a 27-point win over UCF this past weekend and will look to play spoiler to Cincinnati’s playoff hopes on Saturday.
The Mustangs offense might very well be the best unit Cincinnati has faced all season. Led by quarterback Tanner Mordecai, SMU leads the AAC in both yards and points scored per game on the season. Mordecai lit up the UCF defense in last week’s college football betting matchup, finishing with 377 yards passing and three scores. Both Ulysses Bentley IV and Trey Siggers had over 90 yards rushing. The duo also combined for four rushing touchdowns. For as strong as the SMU offense has been this season, the defense has struggled to get off the field. The Mustangs have allowed the fourth-most yards of any team in the American while at the same time giving up the fourth-fewest points. That bend-but-don’t-break style may be playing with fire against an experienced Bearcats offense.
Even though Cincinnati dominated South Florida on the road last Friday in an eventual 17-point win, critics of the Group of Five power were still clamoring for more after the game. The fact that USF is just 2-8 on the season had many believing the Bearcats should have won the game by much more. After the past three weeks saw Luke Fickell’s team hold on for one-score wins over Navy and Tulsa and lead by just two at the half against Tulane, the lack of style points continues to be the major argument against Cincinnati’s College Football Playoff credibility. Perhaps critics should step back and realize that the Bearcats are taking every AAC team’s best shot on a weekly basis. The fact that they dominated a Notre Dame program that has not lost since continues to stand out as the best win of the season.
No matter what the final score read, the Bearcats dominated last week’s game. If not for self-inflicted mistakes, the margin of victory likely would’ve been much greater. Desmond Ridder led an offensive onslaught that generated over 500 total yards. Ridder finished with over 304 passing and added another 65 on the ground. He also accounted for three total touchdowns. RBs Ryan Montgomery and Ethan Wright combined for three more scores on the ground. Josh Whyle (61 yards, one score) led three Bearcats receivers who finished with over 50 yards receiving. Defensively, Cincinnati came up with four turnovers. Unfortunately, the offense committed three giveaways of its own. Saturday’s college football betting matchup between SMU’s conference-leading offense and UC’s top defense should be an epic chess match.
The following table displays the best SMU vs Cincinnati college football betting odds and lines available in the market.
The betting lines for this matchup have held fairly constant from opening thus far. The 12-point spread in favor of Cincinnati matches the opening number set by oddsmakers. The total has come down slightly though. After opening at 65.5, the line has moved a full point to the current mark of 64.5 It is interesting to note that 69% of public spread bets are on SMU as the road underdog. Given Cincinnati’s struggles to cover college football betting point spreads this season, it’s clear that the public expects them to fall short on expectations once again.
The fact that Cincinnati coughed up three turnovers and committed eight penalties last Friday and still won by 17 on the road is a nod to this team’s talent. It could have easily been a lookahead spot for Luke Fickell’s team as well given this week’s marquee AAC matchup against SMU. After taking care of business, the Bearcats will continue their push for a spot in the College Football Playoff against an SMU team that comes in with absolutely nothing to lose.
It should be noted that Mustangs’ quarterback Tanner Mordecai has been somewhat prone to turning the ball over this season himself. His 10 interceptions are tied for 113th in the FBS. That could be an issue against a UC defense that is tied for fifth in the country with a +10 turnover margin. This college football betting matchup is clearly a battle of strengths when the SMU offense faces the Cincinnati defense. Not only do the Bearcats figure to have a slight edge on that side of the ball, but Desmond Ridder and the offense should prove much better than the Mustangs’ defense trying to slow them down. With SMU setting up early in the week as a public dog, taking the Bearcats as a contrarian play at home makes a ton of sense.
We are loading your bets, and they will be here in a second.