College Football Pick: SMU +9½ over Cincinnati

LT Profits Sports Group

Tuesday, November 5, 2013 5:00 AM GMT

The SMU Mustangs have turned their year around under June Jones and despite being 3-4, they can pass the 6-2 Cincinnati Bearcats in the AAC standings with a win Saturday.

A strong passing attack could help keep the nearly double-digit road underdog close Saturday afternoon when those SMU Mustangs (3-4, 1-2 away) pay a visit to the Cincinnati Bearcats (6-2, 4-0 home) at Nippert Stadium in Cincinnati, OH at 12:00 Noon ET in a game available on ESPN3.

The point spread at Pinnacle Sports has SMU as a nice underdog for this contest with the current line at +9½ with odds of -106.

This is the first ever meeting between these two schools as conference mates, as they are now members of the American Athletic Conference in its first season, and SMU has turned its season around nicely under Coach June Jones after an ambitious non-conference schedule led to a 1-4 start.

Cincinnati may be 6-2 overall compared to just 3-4 for SMU, but it is just one-half game ahead of the Mustangs in the AAC at 3-1, as one of its two losses came to a bad South Florida team in conference.

SMU lost to Texas Tech, Texas A&M and TCU before beginning its first AAC season, and it even struggled in its lone non-conference win just barely edging Montana State out of the FCS 31-30. However, Coach Jones has been a winner at every stop he has made and the Mustangs have looked much better since the start of conference play, even while losing their conference opener 55-52 in triple overtime to Rutgers.

The Mustangs have since won two straight in the AAC, winning 34-29 on the road in Memphis and 59-49 over Temple at home, and they have had two full weeks to prepare for this game since beating the Owls. SMU has the passing attack to give any team fits, which has been a common theme across all of Jones’s stops, as the Mustangs are ranked fifth in the country with 380.7 passing yards per game with former Texas Longhorn quarterback Garrett Gilbert at the helm.

Cincinnati comes off of a nationally televised 34-21 win at Memphis last Wednesday night, evening their ATS record at 4-4. The Bearcats may grade out well statistically, ranking an amazing fourth in the country in total defense and 32nd in total offense, but keep in mind they have done that vs. the easiest schedule in the AAC by a fairly wide margin as it is ranked 140th in SOS nationally. Comparatively, SMU has faced a schedule ranked 57th in SOS.

Also the Bearcats have not faced a passing attack like the Mustangs possess all year, so this will be an acid test for Cincinnati’s seventh ranked passing defense. Given the caliber of teams that the Bearcats have faced to this point, we expect SMU to have at least some success putting points on the board with Gilbert under center, as he has completed 64.1 percent of his passes while passing for over 2600 yards in seven games.

Now whether or not SMU will score enough points to pull the upset is debatable, but we do feel that will score enough to hang within single-digits and cover this spread on the road in Cincinnati Saturday.

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College Football Pick: SMU +9½ (-106)