Cincinnati vs. Army Betting Odds & Pick: Bearcats and Black Knights Fit an Appealing Under Trend (Saturday, Sept. 26)
Joe Robbins/Getty Images. Pictured: The Cincinnati Bearcats.
- Army and Cincinnati meet in an epic, nationally televised top-25 showdown at 3:30pm ET on Saturday.
- The under has cashed in seven straight matchups between the Black Knights and an AP Top 25-ranked opponent. Will that trend continue or will we see fireworks on the Hudson?
- Check out Mike Calabrese’s betting guide with odds, analysis and his pick for Army-Cincinnati below.
Cincinnati vs. Army Odds
|Cincinnati Odds||-13.5 [BET NOW]|
|Army Odds||+13.5 [BET NOW]|
|Moneyline||+410/-590 [BET NOW]|
|Over/Under||45.5 [BET NOW]|
|Time||Saturday, 3:30 p.m. ET|
Army and Cincinnati’s 2020 trajectories may be too lofty for their own good. Luke Fickell and Jeff Monken were already on the Power Five radar entering the season, and fast starts accompanied by national rankings are only making them look more attractive to ADs with deep pockets.
What’s difficult to sort in the early going of a chaotic 2020 season is which statistics and trends are meaningful and which are fleeting. Army has thumped a pair of decidedly bad Group of Five teams, while Cincy toyed with an Austin Peay program that was more than happy to call it quits on a disastrous season after just three games. Not exactly the kind of measuring stick that can provide a gambler with a true read on a team.
Without a clear edge against the spread, I’m turning to the total and historical data that is pointing in one direction.
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Army Black Knights
As Collin Wilson pointed out earlier this week, generating havoc on defense and avoiding negative plays on offense is a winning formula in college football. Rarely does a team accomplish both at an elite level, but when a team achieves top-tier status in either metric, it becomes decidedly easier for gamblers to predict outcomes.
As you can see above, Army is doing a great job on both sides of the ball. Unsurprisingly, its buttoned-up option attack makes it difficult for defenses to generate sacks, defend passes, and come down with interceptions. The Black Knights have attempted just nine passes in two games, and frankly, they could have skated by just fine with zero attempts. This helps them avoid putting the ball or ball carriers in harm’s way. As a result of their risk-averse attack, neither of their games this season have come within a touchdown of eclipsing the total.
What is surprising has been their dominant defense. Through two games, Army has been living in opponents’ backfields and making play after play when the ball is in the air. Last season, Army ranked dead last in passes defended at the FBS level. It defended just 30 passes all season. In games against Middle Tennessee and UL-Monroe, the Black Knights have already defended nine passes and picked off three. This mixture of methodical offense and disruptive defense is an under bettor’s dream.
Historically, this under trend is far from an anomaly and aligns with the career performance of Monken-coached teams. Since he took over at West Point, the under has paid out 54% of the time, but it’s his performance against ranked opponents that caught my attention.
Under Monken, Army has played seven ranked opponents, and in those games, the under has hit all seven times. This includes a pair of overtime contests against Oklahoma and Michigan that still failed to exceed the closing number.
I’m banking on the same strategy out of Monken this time around. Control the clock, shorten the game, and hope for a bit of luck by way of turnovers. This bodes well for the under, particularly at its current number (45).
On the Cincinnati side, we have an offense that’s capable of putting up points, but it’s far from world-beaters. The Bearcats finished last season with the following offensive rankings:
- Total Offense (80th)
- Sacks Allowed (108th)
- Plays of 20+ yards (70th)
- Red-zone scoring % (69th)
Cincinnati doesn’t play at a breakneck pace, it fails to consistently create big plays, and it’s below average at finishing drives in the red zone. Even during the Bearcats’ 55-point outburst against Austin Peay last weekend, they put together four drives of at least seven plays. It’s those time-consuming drives that will pair perfectly with Army’s offensive strategy to limit scoring opportunities on Saturday afternoon.
The Bearcats are also down a starting wide receiver for Saturday afternoon’s contest. Alec Pierce led Cincinnati in receiving yards last season, but a knee injury and subsequent medical procedure will have him shelved for a few weeks. The Bearcats were already looking to replace the production of running back Michael Warren II, which makes this development painful for Cincy but potentially profitable for under backers.
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Betting Analysis & Pick
At the time of publication, this total sits at 45.5, but I anticipate that number to be bet down to 43 by kickoff. Early action on this game saw a 52/48 split in favor of the over, but 77% of the money is backing the under. That 29% differential is an indicator of sharp money siding with the under.
I would play this at any number north of 42.5. In light of the Pierce injury news, I’m also leaning toward the under on Cincinnati’s team total, which is as high as 30.5 at some books.
Pick: Under 46 / Lean Cincinnati Team Total Under 30.5