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Memphis Hosts Cincinnati Again, This Time with AAC Title on the Line

The Memphis Tigers and Cincinnati Bearcats won’t need much film study when they prepare for Saturday’s AAC championship game. The teams squared off on this very same field last week, when the Tigers ended Cincinnati’s nine-game win streak with a 34-24 victory. Memphis is making its third straight appearance in the AAC title game.

Cincinnati Bearcats vs Memphis Tigers

Opening Odds Analysis

This line opened 1.5 points higher than it did for last week’s contest, when the Tigers opened as -9 home favorites. That line steamed to -14 by kickoff, so if you like Memphis, you might want to bet the Tigers early in the week.

Cincinnati News & Notes

Well, there’s one thing the Tigers don’t know about Cincinnati going into this game: who the Bearcats will line up at quarterback. Redshirt freshman Ben Bryant got the surprise start last week in place of sophomore Desmond Ridder, who had struggled the previous two games while dealing with a sore passing shoulder. Bryant held his own in his first career start, completing 20 of 32 passes for 229 yards and a touchdown while adding another TD on the ground. However, he was also intercepted twice, lost a fumble and was sacked five times.

Cincinnati coach Luke Fickell has already implied that if Ridder is healthy, he’ll get the start in the conference championship. But if he’s not, the Bearcats seem comfortable with the prospect of Bryant starting for the second straight week. “He was poised in the pocket and made a lot of good passes and a lot of good reads,” Cincy senior offensive lineman Chris Ferguson told reporters following last week’s loss.

Memphis News & Notes

Even when you think you’ve stopped the Tigers offense, Memphis still finds ways to put points on the board. Despite gaining just 21 first downs and falling 50 yards short of their season average, the Tigers managed to score four touchdowns. Three of them were of the unconventional variety: a 94-yard kickoff return to open the game, a 46-yard flea flicker early in the fourth quarter, and a 29-yard run late in the fourth when the Tigers were nursing a three-point lead and looking to run out the clock. Not that the kickoff return major came as a surprise to Memphis fans. Over the last four seasons, the Tigers have now returned 11 kickoffs to the house, the most kickoff return TDs in the nation.

Defensively, Memphis allowed Cincinnati to post its fourth-highest passing yardage total of the season last week. Part of that may have been seeing Bryant for the first time, but the Tigers also lost star defensive back T.J. Carter to injury on the Bearcats’ second offensive play. Even though Memphis buckled down defensively in the second half, the absence of Carter — who was seen after the game using crutches — would be a big loss if he can’t suit up in the AAC title game.

Betting Pick: Bearcats +10.5

The Bearcats were within a field goal late in the fourth quarter last week despite giving a freshman quarterback his first career start. I think they hang tough once again here.

Shark Bites
  • Cincinnati is 1-10 SU in its last 11 road games vs teams with winning records.
  • The total has gone OVER in 7 of Memphis’ last 9 games.
  • Cincinnati is 6-0 ATS in its last 6 games on the road vs Memphis.