Tennessee Volunteers vs. Cincinnati Bearcats
The Tennessee Volunteers and the Cincinnati Bearcats meet up for a a game that may not mean a lot in the grand scheme of College Football but is a huge measuring stick as to where these programs are this year. The Volunteers are -6 point favorites over the Bearcats with an over/under point total set at 51.
It’s year two of the Derek Dooley era in Knoxville and while last season the Vols had a few chances to do some good things and squandered most of them, the Knoxville faithful will be a little less patient this season. Tennessee won their last four games of the regular season but how much of it had to do with the switch to Tyler Bray at QB and how much of it had to do with their softer schedule, remains to be seen. Bray looked solid in the season opener against Montana going 17 of 24 for 293 yards and three touchdowns but that was against FCS competition. The same thing could be said for Taren Poole who ran for 98 yards and a touchdown. Justin Hunter and Da’Rick Rogers both had big openers and scored touchdowns but the competition level goes up fast in this one. Probably the best news out of the opener was no turnovers as the Vols are going to not beat themselves, something they found a way to do often last season.
Like his counterpart in this one, it’s year two as Head Coach for the Cincinnati Bearcats Butch Jones and after a year of “getting to know you”, the expectations become real. Like Tennessee Cincinnati opened against a FCS opponent, Austin Peay, and like the Vols, they drilled them. The Bearcats didn’t return a lot of their players on offense but they did return their key skill position players, QB Zach Collaros , running back Isaiah Pead, and receiver D.J. Woods. Collaros has been seeing action for two years after filling in for an injured Tony Pike on the undefeated team that went to the Sugar Bowl two years ago and he can do it with his feet and his arm. Pead was injured much of last year but he is a difference maker. Woods is one of those guys who just seems to get open but he needs to make the plays. Defensively Cincinnati returned just about everyone but the defense was a sieve last season and they can only hope the experience of playing together as a unit will help. They allowed 275 yards to Austin Peay but forced five turnovers.
Tennessee is 6-8 against the spread at home over the past three years, 3-6 against the spread in their last seven non-conference games, and 2-5 against the spread in their last seven September games. Cincinnati is 2-5 against the spread in their last seven games, 1-5 against the spread in their last six road games, and 3-6 against the spread in their last nine games as an underdog.
The line in this one is six but it seems at least three points two high in a game that could easily be decided by a field goal or less with either team emerging as the victor. Tennessee has the higher top level talent but Cincinnati has the playmakers at the skill positions to move the ball on offense and they aren’t going to back down from anyone. I am not sold on Dooley’s coaching ability and have no choice here but to take the Bearcats and the points in a game they may win outright.
Cincinnati Bearcats +6 Tennessee Volunteers