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Oskeim Sports’ Free NCAA Football Preview: Cincinnati at Houston

cougars

Houston has dominated this series, winning nine of the last 11 meetings overall and posting a 5-1-1 ATS mark in the last seven clashes with the Bearcats. The Cougars are the prohibitive favorite to remain undefeated Saturday afternoon, and that does not come as a surprise in light of their explosive offense.

Houston is averaging 45.9 points and 538 total yards per game at 6.8 yards per play and 11.7 yards per point against teams that would combine to allow 6.4 yards per play. The Cougars are also averaging 48.5 points and 536 total yards per game at 7.1 yards per play and 11.1 yards per point at home in 2015.

The problem for Houston is its weak schedule, which consists of wins over Texas State, SMU, Tulane and Central Florida.], among other inferior opponents. In fact, a colleague of mine pointed out that the Cougars have not played a team in the top 46 of the ESPN Power Index, and have only faced two foes in the top 100 of the same index.

I won’t go as far as to say that the Cougars are overrated, but their lack of quality wins is a major red flag moving forward. With that said, Houston has outgained each of its eight opponents this season and stands at +205 yards per game at home and +190 yards per game in conference play.

While I have been extremely impressed with Houston, I generally avoid investing on bloated Homecoming favorites like the Cougars because they are often times overvalued by the betting market. My math model only favors Houston by 6.5-points and the Bearcats possess the offense to keep this game close.

Specifically, Cincinnati is averaging 38.5 points and 577 total yards per game at 6.9 yards per play against teams that would combine to allow just 5.9 yards per play. Starting quarterback Gunner Kiel has been an incredible 1.6 yards per pass attempt better than average this season, which is good enough to exploit a decent Houston secondary that is 0.6 yards per play better than average (6.7 yards per pass play to teams that would combine to average 7.3 yards per pass play).

It’s also important to note that two of Cincinnati’s losses have come without Kiel on the field for all four quarters. The Bearcats are +200 yards per game this season and have faced four opponents in the top 46 of the ESPN Power Index. Kiel returned from suffering a concussion against Memphis to guide the Bearcats to consecutive blowout wins over Connecticut and Central Florida. He threw for 327 yards and two touchdowns in a 37-13 victory over Connecticut on October 24 before completing all 15 of his passes with five touchdowns in last week’s 52-7 win over Central Florida.

It was the most pass attempts without an incompletion in an FBS game in 20 years. “Finally being back and playing again and getting into a rhythm is a great feeling,” Kiel said. “Things are rolling right now. We’ve just got to keep pushing.” From a technical standpoint, Cincinnati is 9-1-1 ATS in its last eleven conference games, 7-3-1 ATS in its last eleven games off a win and 5-0 ATS in its last five November contests.

The Bearcats are also 5-1-1 ATS in this series, 3-0-1 ATS versus undefeated opposition from Game 6 out and 4-1-1 ATS as conference road underdogs of of seven or more points. With the underdog standing at 5-2-1 ATS in this series, grab the generous points with the Bearcats as Oskeim Sports Free College Football Pick for Saturday. Good luck!

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