The South Florida Bulls welcome the Cincinnati Bearcats to Tampa on Friday, November 20 for an American Athletic Conference battle. The Bearcats have won three of the last four meetings, including a 34-17 home win last year as they racked up 590 yards of offense.
Cincinnati (6-4, 3-3 AAC) became bowl eligible with a 49-38 home win over Tulsa last week. The Bearcats piled up 652 yards of total offense in the win, led by Gunner Kiel’s 386 passing yards and two touchdowns.
South Florida (6-4, 4-2 AAC) also became bowl eligible with a 44-23 upset home win over the Temple Owls on Saturday. The Bulls had 556 total yards, including 230 rushing and two touchdowns from running back Marlon Mack.
Kickoff inside Raymond James Stadium is scheduled for 8:00 EST Friday night with CBS Sports Network providing the television coverage. Oddsmakers in Las Vegas have pegged Cincinnati as a 2.5-point favorite over South Florida with a total set of 63 points.
When I first looked into this game, I didn’t love the spot for South Florida. They just won their 6th game last week in an upset victory over Temple to become bowl eligible for the first time since 2010. I initially thought this would be a letdown spot for them after that accomplishment, but a closer inspection shows that they still have plenty to play for and will have no problem getting focused for Cincinnati this week.
Indeed, the Bulls are actually in second place in the AAC East standings at 4-2. The team ahead of them? Temple at 5-1. but the Bulls obviously have the tiebreaker over the Owls now, so if they can win out they will have a good chance to play in the AAC Championship Game. Temple still has to play Memphis and UConn, and there’s a good chance it loses one of those two games. Cincinnati is two games back in the AAC East with little to play for right now, so if anything I have to question the Bearcats’ motivation.
With how well the Bulls are playing right now, it would be foolish to bet against them. They are 5-1 SU & 5-1 ATS in their last six games with blowout wins over Syracuse (45-24), SMU (38-14) and Temple (44-23). They also went on the road and beat East Carolina (22-17) and Connecticut (28-20) as underdogs. They have actually been an underdog in five of their last six games. They outgained ECU by 222 yards and Temple by 176 yards in their last two games.
Raymond James Stadium has offered South Florida a tremendous home-field advantage this year. It is 4-1 SU & 4-0-1 ATS at home this season, outscoring teams by an average of 21.4 points per game in the process.
Raymond James Stadium has offered South Florida a tremendous home-field advantage this year. It is 4-1 SU & 4-0-1 ATS at home this season, outscoring teams by an average of 21.4 points per game in the process. Its only loss came to Memphis by a final of 17-24. The Bulls are also outgaining teams by an average of 155.0 yards per game at home this year.
Cincinnati has a very good offense but an awful defense. It is giving up 28.2 points and 403 yards per game. Its biggest problem has been stopping the run. The Bearcats are giving up 186 yards rushing yards per game and 4.8 per carry against teams that only average 150 per game and 3.9 per carry.
That’s bad news for them because now they’re up against a South Florida offense that is averaging 228 rushing yards per game and 5.2 per carry. Marlon Mack, one of the most underrated backs in the country, rushed for 230 yards and two touchdowns against a stout Temple defense last week. He now has 1,065 yards while averaging 6.5 per carry on the season. He should have another career game against this weak Cincinnati stop unit.
Cincinnati is 1-3 on the road this season with its only win coming at Miami Ohio by a final of 37-33 as 21-point favorites. Miami Ohio is 2-9 on the season and has been outscored by 176 points this year. USF is 6-0 ATS vs. good passing teams that complete 58% or more of their passes over the last two years. The Bulls are 7-0 ATS in games played on a grass field this season.