Cincinnati Betting Odds Preview
The Bearcats took advantage of a weak schedule to win nine games last season, their first under head coach Tommy Tuberville, but came up just short of what would have been their sixth ten-win season in the last seven campaigns.
It's been a coaching carousel at Cincy recently, going from Mark Dantonio to Brian Kelly to Butch Jones to Tuberville, but the Bearcats haven't seemed to be too affected, winning 74 games over the last eight seasons. Cincy finished two games out of first in the new AAC last year, but with recent nemesis Louisville now gone, the 'Cats feels they've got enough to win the conference this season, even with a new starting quarterback.
Cincy began last year by splitting two Big Ten games, beating Purdue but getting walloped by Illinois. The Bearcats then won two in a row, but got upset at South Florida, losing a game in which they didn't allow an offensive touchdown. Cincinnati then won six straight games, but fell in overtime to Louisville (for the second straight meeting) in the regular-season finale. The Bearcats then played poorly in a Belk Bowl loss to North Carolina to finish at 9-4 SU, 6-7 ATS.
This year Cincinnati gets back 13 starters, one more than last year. Seven starters are back on offense, including last year's top two rushers and three along the offensive line, and six are back on defense. They'll have to replace their starting quarterback, leading receiver and leading tackler, but they hope Gunner Kiel, a sophomore transfer from Notre Dame, will take over behind center. If not, they've still got Munchie Legaux, who's coming back after missing most of last season with a nasty knee injury.
This year the Bearcats test themselves with non-conference road games at Ohio State and at Miami. But other than that Cincy might be favored in every other game. The 'Cats get Houston, East Carolina and Memphis at home, which this year will be Paul Brown Stadium, as Nippert Stadium goes through a remodel. And their four conference road games come against four of the conference's weaker sisters. They also miss defending conference champion Central Florida and Tulsa.
Despite those road games with the Buckeyes and Hurricanes, with some good play from the QB spot Cincinnati could make a run at another ten-win season.
AAC Championship Odds at Bovada as of August 15
Central Florida 7/4
East Carolina 7/1
South Florida 50/1
The Bearcats wrapped up their final season in the now-defunct Big East with a share of the conference title at 5-2 straight-up.
After reeling off five straight victories to start the season they added five more wins in their last eight games to finish 10-3 SU on the year. Cincinnati closed out its season with a 48-34 win over Duke as a 9-point favorite in the Belke Bowl.
Tommy Tuberville takes over the reins as head coach of the Bearcats this season and has already set the bar high for his new team. Last season, they ranked 30th in the nation in rushing with an average of 201.5 yards a game. While George Winn did most of the damage with 1,334 yards it will be up to Ralph Abernathy to carry the load this year after adding 366 yards in a backup role. Brendon Kay is expected to take most of the snaps at quarterback, but also look for Munchie Legaux to remain in the mix.
The two combined for 238.8 passing yards a game in 2012. Both players proved to be duel threats with each adding another 300 yards on the ground. One of the main strengths of this team last season was a defense that held opponents to an average of 18.5 points a game, but Tuberville will have to rebuild much of the front seven.
The good news is that linebacker Greg Blair returns after leading the team in tackles last season with 138. The Bearcats were a solid team to wager on in 2012 with a 9-4 overall record against the spread. They were just 4-3 ATS at home; however they did cover in five of six road games. The total stayed UNDER in three of their last five games.
AAC Championship Odds at Bovada as of August 8
South Florida 33/1