The Tulsa at Cincinnati pick is finally going down, after these two teams had a schedule contest in October postponed, and then a rescheduled meeting in December flipped around a couple times before ultimately getting canceled. Now the squads will meet for all the marbles in the AAC Championship Game.
The Bearcats (8-0) have an undefeated season lying in the balance, although ranked at #9 in the country Cincinnati still can’t make the College Football Playoff even without a loss. #23 Tulsa can give their AAC foe their only blemish on the season, but they’ll have to do so as +14 point underdogs.
Tulsa’s Defense Faces Test
Cincinnati has been the cream of the crop in the AAC all season, but Tulsa has flown under the radar with a 6-1 record while ranked #23 in the nation. How the Golden Hurricane got to this point is intriguing, because their offense really doesn’t impress anybody. Tulsa’s last game was a 19-6 win over Navy two weeks ago.
The Golden Hurricane are 6th in the AAC in yards/game, but they can score when they need to as evidenced by a 34-26 signature win at UCF in week 5 as +20.5 favorites. Tulsa also hung with another top-notch competitor Oklahoma State in the season opener, losing just 16-7 as +24 point road underdogs.
It’s the Golden Hurricane defense that can keep them close in the Tulsa at Cincinnati pick. Aside from being one of the better units in the AAC, Tulsa ranks 20th nationally in yards allowed and is 14th vs. the pass. The Bearcats are going to try and get theirs on the ground, but Tulsa held Navy to 126 yards on a whopping 53 carries last week.
Is Cincinnati Rusty Here?
The Bearcats have done everything asked of them, coming into the AAC Championship Game undefeated. One of the major reasons Cincinnati hasn’t had a chance to rise in the rankings however is because they haven’t played since November 21st due to COVID postponements.
Could the long layoff be a hindrance to the Bearcats on Saturday night (8PM ET, ABC)? On a positive side, Cincinnati relies on running the ball (12th) and playing solid defense (9th in total yards) so it’s easy to keep those facets of the game sharp compared to a complicated passing attack. Desmond Ridder should be in line for a big game, as he had 2 TD passes and another 2 scores on the ground last time out against UCF.
The Bearcats defense is also ready for a step-up game, as Tulsa QB Zach Smith threw for just 168 yards in his return to the lineup last week. The leading rusher for the Golden Hurricane has barely over 350 yards.
Free Tulsa at Cincinnati Pick
The Bearcats have been off for a month, and it’s always tough to know how a team is going to respond after a layoff like that. Tulsa has played just once over that time though, the win over Navy two weeks ago.
Cincinnati has a dynamic offense, but expect this one to be decided by the defenses (O/U 44.5). The Bearcats won 24-13 at home in this matchup last season, and we could see very similar results in the 2020 rematch.
Cincinnati 26 – Tulsa 16
Free Pick: Tulsa +14