Free Big East Against the Spread Picks: Cincinnati Bearcats at Rutgers Scarlet Knights

Cincinnati Bearcats at Rutgers Scarlet Knights
High Point Solutions Stadium – Piscataway, New Jersey
Saturday, November 19, 2011, 12:00 pm Eastern, TV: ESPNU
Opening Line: Cincinnati -2 1/2
Current Line: Cincinnati -3 (-105)
Opening Total: 48 1/2
Current Total: 47
Opening Money Line: Cincinnati -140 / Rutgers +120
Current Money Line: Cincinnati -150 / Rutgers +130

Zach Collaros is out for the season with a broken ankle for the Cincinnati Bearcats. Cincinnati is a 3 point road favorite at Rutgers in a battle for first place in the Big East.

The 7-2 Cincinnati Bearcats are 3-1 in the Big East, while every other team in the Conference has at least 2 losses. Cincinnati is coming off their first Big East loss of the season last week at home to West Virginia 24-21. The loss snapped a 6 game winning streak for the Bearcats. Cincinnati looks to rebound as they travel to 7-3 Rutgers. The Scarlet Knights are 3-2 in conference and can move into first place with a win against Cincinnati. Rutgers is coached by Greg Schiano and has losses at North Carolina 24-22, Louisville 16-14, and at home to West Virginia 41-31. The Knights have home wins over North Carolina Central 48-0, Ohio 38-26, Pitt 34-10, Navy 21-20, South Florida 20-17 in overtime, and last week against Army 27-12 at Yankee Stadium. Rutgers has a road win at Syracuse 19-16 in double overtime. Cincinnati is coached by Butch Jones, and has a loss at Tennessee 45-23 in addition to the West Virginia loss. The Bearcats have home wins over Austin Peay 72-10, Akron 59-14, NC State 44-14, and Louisville 25-16, along with road wins at Miami (OH) 27-0, South Florida 37-34, and Pitt 26-23. The Bearcats have played 3 straight games decided by 3 points. Cincinnati leads the series against Rutgers 8-7-1 all time and has won 5 straight in the series including 69-38 last year at home.

Not only did Cincinnati lose at home to West Virginia last week, they lost quarterback Zach Collaros to a broken ankle. There is a small chance he could return for the Bearcats’ bowl game  that would improve a little if Cincinnati plays in a BCS Bowl. The Bearcats were 3 point favorites on the college football betting line against West Virginia. Collaros went down early after attempting only 11 passes. The Mountaineers took advantage of that and jumped out to a 17-7 lead at halftime. Cincinnati scored 14 straight points to take a 21-17 lead in the fourth quarter, but West Virginia scored with just under 9 minutes left to go to take the lead for good 24-21. Cincinnati kicker Tony Miliano missed two second half field goals including one with 2 minutes to go in the game that could have sent the game into overtime. The Bearcats also had 2 turnovers in the loss. West Virginia had 14 penalties and a turnover, and also missed two field goals. Cincinnati had 404 total yards including 190 rushing yards. Back-up quarterback Munchie Legaux threw for 144 yards and an interception, but he rushed for 77 yards and a touchdown. Running back Isaiah Pead had 19 carries, 113 yards and 2 touchdowns, and added 5 catches for 67 yards. Receiver Kenbrell Thompkins also had 5 catches for 67 yards. West Virginia had 404 total yards, including 372 passing yards.

Cincinnati is averaging 423 total yards including 193.6 rushing yards and 229.4 passing yards. Cincinnati is averaging 37.1 points a game which is the fifteenth best scoring offense in the country. The Bearcats have allowed 13 sacks and have 14 turnovers. Cincinnati is 53/130 on third and fourth down conversions, and 35/43 scoring in the red zone with 28 touchdowns. Cincinnati is allowing 367.8 total yards a game including the second ranked rushing defense allowing only 80 yards a game. Unfortunately, the passing defense allows 287.8 yards a game which is #115 out of 120 teams. The Bearcats allow 20 points a game. Cincinnati has forced 31 sacks and 26 turnovers this season. Bearcat opponents are 49/145 on third and fourth down conversions, and 21/25 scoring in the red zone with 14 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 has seen limited action this season but will be the starter now. Lagaux is 15/28 passing for 205 yards, and an interception, along with 16 carries, 115 yards and 2 touchdowns. Pead has 155 carries, 934 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.   Thompkins has 40 catches, 494 yards, and 2 touchdowns. Receiver Anthony McClung has 33 catches, 464 yards, and 3 touchdowns.   D.J. Woods has 33 catches, 391 yards, and 2 touchdowns.  Adrien Robinson has only 7 catches, but has 152 yards and 3 scores. Miliano is 35/38 on extra points and 12/17 on field goals with a long of 48 yards. Cincinnati defensive back Dominique Battle is out for the season with a torn ACL.

Last week Rutgers was a 9 point favorite against Army in a game played at Yankee Stadium. The two teams were tied at 6 at halftime, but Rutgers outscored them 21-6 in the second half to win 27-12. Rutgers overcame two penalties in the win. Both teams missed extra points. The Scarlet Knights blocked a punt in the fourth and ran it back for a touchdown. Rutgers had 314 total yards including 196 passing yards from quarterback Chas Dodd who had 2 touchdown passes and 2 interceptions. Running back Jeremy Deering had 14 carries for 64 yards. Jawan Jamison had 7 carries, 63 yards, and a touchdown. Mohamed Sanu had 13 catches, 129 yards, and a touchdown. Michael Coleman and Brandon Coleman each caught touchdown passes. Army had 305 total yards including 228 rushing yards.

Rutgers is 7-3 but they struggle to move the ball. The Knights average 322.3 yards a game including just 90.4 rushing yards a game and 231.9 passing yards a game. Only 2 other teams in the country rush for less yards a game than Rutgers. Rutgers is scoring 27.4 points a game. The Scarlet Knights have 22 turnovers and have allowed 21 sacks. Rutgers is 69/172 on third and fourth down conversions, and 31/40 scoring in the red zone with 22 touchdowns. Rutgers is allowing just 322.3 yards a game including 147.9 rushing yards and 174.4 passing yards. The pass defense and overall defense are in the top 20 nationally. The Knights allow just 18.2 points a game, which is #11 in the country. Rutgers has forced 28 turnovers and 30 sacks this season. Knight opponents are 51/153 on third and fourth down conversions, and 21/31 scoring in the red zone with 14 touchdowns. Rutgers has 6 defensive touchdowns this year.

Chas Dodd and Gary Nova have split the snaps at quarterback for Rutgers. Nova is 102/202 passing for 1,235 yards, 9 touchdowns and 7 interceptions. Dodd is 97/171 passing for 1,075 yards, 9 touchdowns and 6 interceptions. Jawan Jamison is the leading rusher with 165 carries, 547 yards, and 4 touchdowns, along with 7 catches for 59 yards. Savon Huggins  has 56 carries for 146 yards and has 5 rushing touchdowns for Rutgers. He missed the Army game with a knee injury and is out indefinitely. Deering has 36 carries for 132 yards. He has a kickoff return for a touchdown.  Sanu has 94 catches, 973 yards, and 7 touchdowns. The versatile  Sanu also returns punts, and has a handful of carries and pass attempts for the Knights. Mark Harrison, Joe Martinek, Quron Pratt, and Tim Wright also get significant catches. Coleman only has 8 catches for 210 yards, but has 3 touchdown catches.  Kicker San San Te is 31/32 on extra points and 15/25 on field goals with a long of 50 yards. Rutgers has 5 defensive players out for the season.

Rutgers is 7-3 against the spread this season and the total is 2-8 in those games. Cincinnati is 5-4 ATS this season and the total is 4-5. The Bearcats are 4-1 against the spread in the last 5 against Rutgers and the over is 4-1-1 in the last 6. Cincinnati is 11-5-1 ATS after a straight up loss, 5-13 after failing to cover, 3-8 in road games, 2-6 against teams with winning records, 1-5 in conference games, and 1-8 in November. Rutgers is 5-1 ATS following a cover, 5-1-1 against teams with winning records, and 7-3-1 overall.

This is a battle between Rutgers’ dominant defense and Cincinnati’s explosive offense. Of course, without Collaros, we don’t know if the offense will be as explosive. The jury is still out on Lagaux. He didn’t throw the ball well against West Virginia but he did run pretty well. I think Cincinnati will lean on Pead until Lagaux adapts to running the offense full time. I like the under in this game.

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