Big East Against the Spread Picks: Cincinnati Bearcats at Syracuse Orange

Cincinnati Bearcats at Syracuse Orange
Carrier Dome – Syracuse, New York
Saturday, November 26, 2011, 12:00 pm Eastern, TV: SNY, MASN,
Altitude, ESPN Game Plan
Opening Line: Cincinnati -3
Current Line: Cincinnati -2
Opening Total: 50 1/2
Current Total: 49 1/2
Opening Money Line: Cincinnati -130 / Syracuse +110
Current Money Line: Cincinnati -125 / Syracuse +105

The Cincinnati Bearcats are 2 point road favorites at Syracuse in Big East action Saturday. They are playing without quarterback Zach Collaros who is out for the season with a broken ankle.

Two weeks ago Cincinnati was in control of the Big East with a 7-1 overall record and 3-0 record in the Big East. However, two straight Bearcat losses have opened up the conference race. Every team has at least 2 conference losses and five teams are tied for first or within a half game. Cincinnati is now 3-2 in conference and tied with West Virginia and Pitt. All three are tied for second behind Rutgers and Louisville. The Bearcats are coached by Butch Jones as they travel to Syracuse. Syracuse is 5-5 overall and 1-4 in conference under coach Doug Marrone, and can become bowl eligible with a win here. Cincinnati leads the series 6-5 against Syracuse including 3-3 in the Carrier Dome. Syracuse won 31-10 last year in Cincinnati.

Two weeks ago, Cincinnati hosted West Virginia. Not only did Cincinnati lose 24-21 but they lost quarterback Zach Collaros to a broken ankle. Collaros had surgery and is out for the season. Last week the Bearcats played their first game without Collaros as they traveled to Rutgers. The Bearcats were 3 point favorites. Rutgers took a 7-3 lead at the end of the first. The Scarlet Knights scored 13 unanswered points to win 20-3. Cincinnati had 225 yards, including 158 passing yards from new starter Munchie Lagaux who threw an interception. LeGaux was also the leading rusher for the Bearcats with 12 carries for 31 yards. Cincinnati had 2 turnovers. Cincinnati had only 11 first downs. Rutgers had 385 total yards including 203 rushing yards. Rutgers had 9 penalties for 70 yards.

Cincinnati is averaging 403.2 total yards including 180.9 rushing yards and 222.3 passing yards. Cincinnati is averaging 33.7 points a game which is the 24th best scoring offense in the country. The Bearcats have allowed 16 sacks and have 16 turnovers. Cincinnati is 59/148 on third and fourth down conversions, and 35/44 scoring in the red zone with 28 touchdowns. Cincinnati is allowing 369.5 total yards a game including the fifth ranked rushing defense allowing only 92.3 yards a game. Unfortunately, the passing defense allows 277.2 yards a game which is #110 out of 120 teams. The Bearcats allow 20 points a game. Cincinnati has forced 34 sacks and 26 turnovers this season. Bearcat opponents are 57/164 on third and fourth down conversions, and 24/28 scoring in the red zone with 16 touchdowns. Cincinnati has 4 defensive touchdowns this season.

Collaros was 154/243 passing (63.4% completions) with 1,854 yards, 14 touchdowns, and 8 interceptions, along 76 carries, 242 yards, and 8 scores.  Lagaux is 27/59 passing for 363 yards, and 2 interceptions, along with 28 carries, 146 yards and 2 touchdowns. Pead has 162 carries, 962 yards, and 10 touchdowns along with 24 catches, 193 yards, and 2 touchdown catches. Five other players besides Collaros, Lagaux, and Pead have rushing touchdowns this season. Anthony McClung has 40 catches, 533 yards, and 3 touchdowns.  Receiver Kenbrell Thompkins has 42 catches, 515 yards, and 2 touchdowns.    D.J. Woods has 34 catches, 396 yards, and 2 touchdowns.  Adrien Robinson has only 7 catches, but has 152 yards and 3 scores. Kicker Tony Miliano is 35/38 on extra points and 13/18 on field goals with a long of 48 yards. Cincinnati defensive back Dominique Battle is out for the season with a torn ACL.

Syracuse was a 3 point underdog two weeks ago at home to South Florida on the college football betting line. South Florida took a 3-0 lead early in the first quarter. The Bulls expanded their lead to 20-10 at halftime, and ended up winning 37-17. Syracuse had 405 total yards including 297 passing yards from quarterback Ryan Nassib who had 2 touchdowns. Nassib also rushed for 30 yards. Receiver Alec Lemon had 10 catches, 179 yards and 2 touchdowns. Syracuse had 7 penalties for 86 yards. South Florida had 490 total yards including 236 rushing yards. The Bulls had the only turnover of the game.

Syracuse is averaging 346 yards a game including 230.5 passing yards and 115.5 rushing yards a game. The Orange are averaging 25.7 points a game. The Orange have 12 turnovers and have allowed 22 sacks this season. Syracuse is 72/162 on third and fourth down conversions, and 35/44 scoring in the red zone with 24 touchdowns. The Orange are allowing 393.6 total yards a game including 266.1 passing yards and 127.5 rushing yards. Syracuse is allowing 27.9 points a game. The Orange have forced 20 turnovers and 24 sacks this season. Syracuse opponents are 70/156 on third and fourth down conversions, and 32/37 scoring in the red zone with 18 touchdowns. The Orange have two defensive/special teams touchdowns this season.

Nassib is 217/345 passing (62.9% completions) with 2,257 yards, 20 touchdowns and 6 interceptions. He also has 2 rushing touchdowns. Running back Antwon Bailey has 195 carries, 863 yards, and 6 touchdowns, along with 19 catches for 114 yards. Back-up Prince Tyson-Gulley is out for the season with a broken collarbone, but he only had 18 carries for 89 yards. Lemon has 57 catches, 710 yards and 6 touchdowns. Nick Provo has 43 catches, 453 yards, and 6 touchdowns. Van Chew has 29 catches, 379 yards, and 3 touchdowns. Dorian Graham has 23 catches and 2 touchdowns. Kicker Ross Krautman is 30/31 on extra points and 11/15 on field goals with a long of 34 yards. Seven players are listed as doubtful or out for the Orange.

Syracuse is 3-7 against the spread and the total is 7-3 this season. Cincinnati is 5-5 ATS and the total is 4-6 this season. The underdog is 6-2-1 ATS in this series and 7 of the last 8 meetings have gone under the total.  The Bearcats are 10-4-1 ATS after scoring 20 points or less, 5-14 after failing to cover, 3-9 in road games, 1-4 overall, and after a bye week, 1-6 in conference games, 0-4 as a favorite and 1-8 in November games. The Orange 6-0 ATS after a bye week , 6-13 after a double digit home loss, 2-5 as a home dog, 1-4 as an underdog, 1-5 in conference games, and overall, 0-4 in November, and 0-4 as an underdog of 3 points or less.

Cincinnati struggled on offense last week against Rutgers with Lagaux under center. Of course, Rutgers has a much better defense than Syracuse, so the Bearcats should improve on offense this week. The Orange have problems of their own as they have lost 3 straight. I don’t like either side until I see more from Lagaux. Recent history says this game will go under, and I like that trend to continue.

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