College Football Week #15 Betting: #19 Louisville Cardinals at Cincinnati Bearcats

#19 Louisville Cardinals at Cincinnati Bearcats
Nippert Stadium – Cincinnati, Ohio

Thursday, December 5, 2013, 7:30 pm Eastern, TV: ESPN
Opening Line: Louisville -7
Current Line: Louisville -3 1/2
Opening Total: 51
Current Line: 51
Opening Money Line: Louisville -170 / Cincinnati +145
Current Money Line: Louisville -170 / Cincinnati +145 

Louisville travels to Cincinnati Thursday in the last scheduled meeting between the two long time rivals. Louisville is a 3.5 point road favorite.
Louisville travels to Cincinnati Thursday in the last scheduled meeting between the two long time rivals. Louisville is a 3.5 point road favorite.

The 10-1 Louisville Cardinals and 9-2 Cincinnati Bearcats are both 6-1 in the American Athletic Conference as they close out the regular season against each other. Both teams are behind 7-0 Central Florida in the standings. If UCF loses to SMU, Saturday, then the winner of Louisville and Cincinnati will clinch a share of the conference title. Louisville is looking for at least a share of their third straight Big East/AAC title. Cincinnati has an outside shot of winning the AAC  automatic BCS berth if they win and are somehow able to pass UCF in the BCS standings. UCF clinches the bid with a win or a Louisville win, because they beat the Cardinals earlier in the season. UCF and Cincinnati did not play each other this season.

Cincinnati leads the series against Louisville 29-22-1 including 16-12 in Cincinnati. Louisville won last year at home 34-31 in overtime to snap a four game losing streak to the Bearcats. The series dates back to 1929, but this is the last scheduled meeting between the teams because Louisville moves to the ACC next season. The two teams play for the Keg Of Nails Trophy.

Louisville is coached by Charlie Strong. The only loss for the Cardinals came at home to Central Florida 38-35. Louisville has home wins over Ohio 49-7, Eastern Kentucky 44-7, Florida International 72-0, Rutgers 24-10, Houston 20-13, and two weeks ago against Memphis 24-17. The Cardinals have road wins at Kentucky 27-13,  Temple 30-7, South Florida  34-3, and UConn 31-10. The Cardinals have won four straight games. Louisville is 4-7 ATS and the total is 2-9 this season. Louisville was a 23.5 point favorite against Memphis and the total was 43.5.

Louisville took a 7-0 lead in the first against Memphis on a 48 yard fumble return. The Cardinals would expand the lead to 17-3 by halftime. Louisville added a third quarter touchdown to go up 24-3. The Tigers would score two fourth quarter touchdowns to pull within 24-17 with 6:07 left. Memphis kicked off deep for a touchback. Louisville drove from their own 25 to the Memphis 15. In stead of kicking the field goal, the Cardinals went for it on fourth and 10, and gained 9 yards. The Tigers took over at their own six with 37 seconds left and no timeouts, but couldn’t do much before the clock ran out. Louisville had 342 total yards including 220 passing yards. Memphis had 279 total yards including 135 rushing yards. The Tigers had two turnovers, but the Cardinals had 8 penalties for 72 yards.

Louisville is outscoring teams 36-11 this season. The Cardinals #3 nationally in points allowed and #28 in points scored. Louisville is #32 in total offense at 455 yards per game including the #17 passing attack at 307.3 yards per game and 147.7 rushing yards.  On defense, the Cardinals are allowing 242.7 yards per game including 159.6 passing and 83.1 rushing yards. Louisville is #2 nationally in all three categories. The Cardinals are +15 in turnovers with 24 takeaways. Louisville averages 63 penalty yards per game and opponents average 33. The Cardinals are 85/153 on third and fourth down conversions and opponents are 48/162. Louisville has forced 38 sacks and allowed 22 this season. The Cardinals are 44/50 scoring in the red zone with 29 touchdowns and opponents are 21/31 with 13 touchdowns. The Cardinals have one kick return, and one punt return both for touchdowns, plus four defensive touchdowns.

Louisville quarterback Teddy Bridgewater entered the season as a Heisman contender and likely #1 pick in the NFL draft. He has had a good season , but really hasn’t lived up to those lofty expectations. He has completed 71% of his passes for 3,268 yards with 25 touchdowns and 3 picks, along with 51 carries for 37 yards. Back-up Will Gardner has thrown for 112 yards and 2 touchdowns, mostly in garbage time of blowouts.

Running back Dominique Brown has 128 carries, 704 yards and 7 touchdowns, along with 21 catches for 200 yards and a touchdown. Senorise Perry has 119 carries, 550 yards and 6 touchdowns, along with 12 catches for 115 yards. Michael Dyer has 44 carries, 223 yards and 2 touchdowns, along with 2 catches. Little used running back Corvin Lamb is out for the season with a knee injury.

Receiver Damian Copeland has 49 catches, 655 yards and 4 touchdowns.  DeVante Parker has 37 carries, 639 yards and 9 touchdowns. Eli Rogers has 37 catches, 466 yards and 4 touchdowns. Gerald Christian has 24 catches, 377 yards and 4 touchdowns. Kai De La Cruz has 15 catches, 271 yards and 3 touchdowns. He is questionable with a groin injury. Robert Clark has 22 catches, 195 yards and a touchdown. Tight end Hunter Bowles is out for the season with a neck injury.

Cincinnati is coached by Tommy Tuberville. The Bearcats have losses at Illinois 45-17 and South Florida 26-20. Cincinnati has home wins over Purdue 42-7, Northwestern State 66-9, Temple 38-20, UConn 41-16, and SMU 28-25, Cincinnati has road wins at Miami-(OH) 14-0, Memphis 34-21., Rutgers 52-17, and two weeks ago at Houston 24-17. The Bearcats have won six straight games since the South Florida loss. Cincinnati is 6-5 ATS and the total is also 6-5 this season. The Bearcats were 2.5 point underdogs at Houston and the total was 60.

After a scoreless first quarter, Cincinnati took a 17-7 lead into halftime at Houston. The Bearcats expanded the lead to 24-7 midway through the third. The Cougars would score 2 touchdowns before the end of the third, including a 15 yard fumble return for a touchdown. Cincinnati missed 2 field goals in the fourth quarter, but Houston didn’t really come close to scoring in the quarter. The game ended with a Houston rush to the Cincinnati 38. The Bearcats had 573 total yards including 401 passing. The Cougars had 278 total yards including 245 passing yards. Cincinnati had 3 turnovers and Houston had two. The Bearcats missed 3 of 4 field goals attempted.

Cincinnati is outscoring teams 34-19 this season. The Bearcats are #10 nationally in points allowed and #34 in scoring. Cincinnati is averaging 487.3 yards per game on offense including 314.9 passing and 172.4.8 rushing yards. The Bearcats are #18 nationally in total offense and #15 in passing. On defense, the Bearcats are allowing 302.4 yards per game including 210.8 passing and 91.5 rushing yards per game. Cincinnati is #8 in total defense, #24 against the pass, and #4 against the rush.  The Bearcats are -5 in turnovers with 24 giveaways. Cincinnati is averaging 64 penalty yards per game and opponents are averaging 54. The Bearcats are 87/174 on third and fourth down conversions and opponents are 58/172. Cincinnati has forced 32 sacks and allowed 11 this season. The Bearcats are 35/48 scoring in the red zone with 31 touchdowns and opponents are 20/28 with 13 touchdowns. Cincinnati has allowed 4 defensive touchdowns and a special teams touchdown. The Bearcats have one pick six this season.

Cincinnati quarterback Munchie Legaux broke his leg early in the season and is out for the year. Legaux was splitting the snaps with Brendon Kay, and Kay is now the full time starter. Kay has completed 70.3% of his passes for 2,817 yards with 22 touchdowns and 9 interceptions, along with 53 carries, 129 rushing yards and 4 touchdowns.Fullback Jordan Luallen has thrown for 129 yards with two touchdowns and a pick. Third string quarterback Bennie Coney has thrown a touchdown and a pick in limited action.

Running back Hosey Williams has 97 carries, 575 yards and 4 touchdowns, along with 3 catches. Ralph Abernathy has 113 carries, 433 yards, and 7 touchdowns, along with 17 catches for 129 yards. Tion Green has 81 carries, 377 yards and 7 touchdowns, plus 2 catches. Luallen has 44 carries for 203 yards and 3 touchdowns.

Receiver Anthony McClung has 61 catches, 811 yards and 5 touchdowns. Shaq Washington has 74 catches for 736 yards and a touchdown, along with a touchdown pass.  Chris Moore has 36 catches for 507 yards and 9 touchdowns. Max Morrison has 27 catches, 418 yards and 3 touchdowns.  Mekale McKay has 14 catches for 405 yards with 7 touchdowns. Blake Annen has 14 catches for 173 yards and 2 touchdowns. Four little used wide receivers and 2 defensive backs are listed as questionable or out Thursday night against Louisville.

Louisville is 12-3 ATS against teams with with winning records, 18-7 in road games, 1-4 after failing to cover, and on after a bye week, 1-6 in AAC games and overall, 0-6 after a straight up win and after allowing less than 20 points, 0-4 against teams with winning records and on fieldturf. The road team is 7-1 ATS in this series recently. The favorite is 11-5 ATS in the series. The Cardinals are 6-1 ATS in their last 7 trips to Cincinnati.

Cincinnati is 4-0 ATS in December, 4-1 in Thursday games, in AAC games, after a straight up win, overall and on fieldturf, 7-2 after passing for more than 280 total yards, 9-4 at home, and 0-4 after gaining more than 450 total yards. The Bearcats have covered four of the last five against Louisville.

Although both Louisville and Cincinnati have top 30 offenses, they also have top 10 defenses. I think that adds up to a low scoring game. It will be a long shot if SMU upsets Central Florida, but both the Bearcats and Cardinals have to treat this game like the winner will get a share of the Conference title. Both of these teams will go to mid-tier bowls but this should be an intense game between two bitter rivals playing for the last time in the foreseeable future. I think Louisville pulls off the road win in a close game.

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