College Football Pick - Cincinnati Worth a Look Against Highly Ranked Houston

Cincinnatti Bearcats celebrating with the bell

Doug Upstone

Tuesday, September 13, 2016 5:53 PM UTC

Tuesday, Sep. 13, 2016 5:53 PM UTC

Houston's quest for 12-0 season takes to the road in a very a very challenging environment, where nothing will come easy, as they open AAC play against Cincinnati, who has bad intentions.

Let's not kid ourselves, while the American Conference hierarchy is excited about showcase contest, the idea of the Cougars running the table, being in the news all season as a possible Final Four participant and quarterback Greg Ward Jr. in Heisman conversations, this is publicity this conference could not buy, even though they might just be renting the space for Houston, who could be headed to Big 12 before long.

But Cincinnati has other designs, like trying to win the AAC themselves and while the college football odds have the Bearcats as 7.5-point home underdogs at SportsBetting, let's not lose sight of the fact Cincy is exceptional 8-2 ATS in the role the last decade.

This ESPN encounter on Thursday at 7:30 EDT should be something to see and here is our look at the game.


Houston Needs Ward to Roll
Greg Ward Jr. sat out against Lamar on Saturday, as it was reported as early as last Monday he had a shoulder injury. Ward is a dynamic performer, who can beat you with his arm or legs. Coach Tom Herman inherited a lot of talent when he got to H-Town and he has molded it meticulously and added big players with the same amount of speed he required.

However, he needs Ward to be able to go at full strength, as we saw what happens last year when he could not play and the Cougars lost at Connecticut 20-17 as 10-point road favorites.

That is not to say his backup Kyle Postman cannot do the job, but even last year, a healthy Ward and Houston had to hold on to defeat Cincinnati 33-30 at home as nine-point favorites.


Cincinnati Believes They Can Engineer Upset
There were those that thought coach Tommy Tuberville's club could have their hands full, playing at Purdue. With QB Hayden Moore accounting for five touchdowns ( 3-passing and 2- running), Cincinnati built 31-7 lead and coasted to 38-20 victory.

Moore will be facing a team with more speed than he will take on all year and will have to be mentally and physically on top of his game. Realistically, Moore and the offense hold the keys to victory and that is controlling the ball, converting on third down and keeping the Houston offense off the field.

If they do this do and the defense can force enough negative plays to keep the Cougars offense off-balance, backed with a rollicking crowd at venerable Nippert Stadium, this could be a wild affair.


What To Watch For and Outcome
From a talent perspective, Houston has the better team, is 18-6 ATS after scoring 40 or more points in the previous contest and is superlative 8-1-1 ATS on the road against foes with a winning home record.

Unfortunately, what we don't know about is what the health of Ward is. Will be hampered in throwing long or short or will he be able to make throws out of the pocket from different arm angles to speedy pass catchers? This is important for those putting together college football picks and sportsbooks are presuming Ward will go, just not at what level.

But Cincinnati is no slouch and is 11-3-1 ATS in recent conference clashes and the underdog is solid 6-2-1 ATS in this series. With spread at 7.5, you can take the hook with home underdog which is worth the look.


Free College Football Pick: Cincinnati covers (-105)
Best Line Offered: at Heritage, which offers a 50% Cash Bonus!


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