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The Battle for the Keg of Nails: Louisville at Cincinnati

This will be the last game played at Nippert Stadium before it undergoes a much-needed renovation and expansion. Surprisingly, the only team with something to play for is Cincinnati as the Bearcats have an outside chance of winning the conference title if Central Florida loses Saturday.  “Football gets a little bit long and old this time of year.  It’s kind of a grind for everybody,” Cincinnati coach Tommy Tuberville said.  “When your last game really means something – whether it’s a chance to go to a different bowl, or the possibility for a chance of a piece of a championship, it makes it a lot more fun.”  Meanwhile, coach Tuberville is 11-9-1 ATS at home versus ranked opponents since 2001,  but he has pulled ten outright upsets, including nine over Top 10 opposition.

Cincinnati is also one of the hottest teams in the nation as the Bearcats have won six straight games, while also going 16-2 in their last eighteen home games over which time they have outscored opponents by an average of 23.4 points per game.  Let’s take a closer look at how both teams matchup from a fundamental standpoint:

Cincinnati Offense:

  • The Bearcats are averaging 34.2 points per game at 4.3 yards per rush play, 8.9 yards per pass attempt and 6.4 yards per play.  At home, Cincinnati is averaging 43.0 points per game at 4.9 yards per rush play, 10.4 yards per pass attempt, 7.1 yards per play and 11.9 yards per point;
  • Overall, Cincinnati is 1.0 yards per pass attempt and 0.3 yards per play better than average offensively this season, while also being 0.2 yards per rush play worse than average.

Cincinnati Defense:

  • Cincinnati is allowing 18.5 points per game at 3.0 yards per rush play, 6.3 yards per pass attempt and 4.7 yards per play.  At home, the Bearcats are limiting opponents to just 15.4 points per game at 3.2 yards per rush play, 6.8 yards per pass play and 5.2 yards per play.
  • Overall, the Bearcats are 0.5 yards per rush play, 0.1 yards per pass play and 0.2 yards per play better than average defensively in 2013.

Meanwhile, Louisville takes the field with an offense that is 0.2 yards per rush play, 1.5 yards per pass attempt and 0.9 yards per play better than average this season.  The Cardinals also possess an outstanding defense that is 0.8 yards per rush play, 1.1 yards per pass play and 0.9 yards per play better than average.  “I don’t think it’s deflating (not going to a BCS game), because you’re looking at a team right now who’s won 10 games,” coach Charlie Strong said.  “You’re sitting there 10-1, so we don’t get to the BCS.  We’re going to get to another bowl game, but you can’t take away what we’ve already accomplished with 10 wins.”

From the line of scrimmage there is no question that Louisville is the better team.  Specifically, the Cardinals are +1.8 yards per play better than average, while Cincinnati is +0.5 yards per play better than average.  The visitor stands at 7-1 ATS in this series, but coach Tuberville is always a dangerous home underdog.

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