Cincinnati vs Louisville Odds & Prediction: The Fenway Bowl Bet to Make

Cincinnati vs Louisville Odds & Prediction: The Fenway Bowl Bet to Make article feature image

Wesley Hitt/Getty Images and James Black/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images. Pictured from left: Charles McClelland (10) of the Cincinnati Bearcats and Marshon Ford (5) of the Louisville Cardinals.

Cincinnati vs Louisville Odds

Saturday, Dec. 17
11 a.m. ET
Cincinnati Odds
-114o / -106u
Louisville Odds
-114o / -106u
Odds via FanDuel. Get up-to-the-minute college football odds here.

Welcome to the inaugural Wasabi Fenway Bowl, which includes teams from the AAC and ACC, and is played in one of baseball's most historic venues.

It’s always cool to see baseball stadiums retrofitted for collegiate sporting events, and this is the fourth active bowl game to be staged in a ballpark.

The actual football on the field will likely be less intriguing than the venue.

Both starting quarterbacks are hurt, shoving two backups into the spotlight. Cincinnati head coach Luke Fickell took off for the Wisconsin job, while Louisville head coach Scott Satterfield left for the … wait for it … Cincinnati job.

College football, what a world!

There's plenty more opt-out and coaching news to break down in this game. Either way, we should be able to navigate through the announcements — like a ninja through a hallway of lasers — to find a betting angle for Saturday’s game.

P.S. Yours truly will be in the audience for this sicko bowl game, so keep an eye on the television for my ugly mug.

Cincinnati Bearcats

It was nice while it lasted, Bearcat nation.

Fickell has departed and taken multiple members of the coaching staff with him. Defensive coordinator Mike Tressel, safeties coach Colin Hitschler and passing game coordinator Mike Brown will join Fickell at Wisconsin, leaving a coaching staff in need of complete repair.

Fickell is also bringing a pair of Cincinnati recruits to Wisconsin in three-star cornerback Jonas Duclona and four-star safety Braedyn Moore.

The Bearcats must also address all these issues while preparing to transfer to the Big 12. A daunting task, indeed.

But first, how will they navigate this game?

Special teams coach Kerry Coombs will lead the Bearcats in this game while backup quarterback Evan Prater will start. Coombs lost play-calling duties for Ohio State last season and Prater has just 62 career passing attempts.

Additionally, four of Cincinnati’s top five targets aren't available for this game. Kicker Ryan Coe also entered the transfer portal, leaving us to wonder who will handle those duties this weekend.

Here’s the good news: The Bearcats can likely still lean on their defense.

Only two defensive players hit the transfer portal and none opted out. The Bearcats had a down year but still led the AAC in scoring defense with a strong pass rush (fourth in PFF’s pass rush grades) and solid tackling (32nd in PFF’s tackling grades).

Wouldn’t you rather have the better defense in a game between two backup quarterbacks?

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Louisville Cardinals

Speaking of backup quarterbacks … Malik Cunningham's absence is a huge problem for Louisville.

If teams run against Cincinnati, they win. The Bearcats finished 1-3 this season against teams that ran for over 200 yards.

With Cunningham in the fold, Louisville can be a dangerous, dual-action rush attack. Cunningham dashed for over 550 yards this season behind an offensive line that finished top 50 in Line Yards.

Additionally, three key Cardinals running backs won’t be playing in the Fenway Bowl. Everything bodes poorly for Louisville's rushing attack.

In other news …

  • Satterfield took quarterbacks coach Pete Thomas with him to Cincinnati
  • Both co-defensive coordinators won’t be available for the game
  • Offensive coordinator Lance Taylor left for Western Michigan
  • Strength and conditioning coach Ben Sowders left for Arkansas

That leaves New England legend Deion Branch to coach the Cardinals as he returns home for a small level of glory. Meanwhile, backup Brock Domann will start under center. He threw three touchdowns and five interceptions this season.

The Cardinals should also lean on their defense as only two players opted out or hit the transfer portal. Louisville brings a strong pass rush (eighth in PFF’s pass rush grades), an ability to force Havoc (20th in Havoc) and a stout defense under pressure (fifth in Finishing Drives).

However, the Cardinals can’t tackle and rank 122nd in PFF’s tackling grades.

Cincinnati vs Louisville Matchup Analysis

Toggle the dropdowns below to hide or show how Cincinnati and Louisville match up statistically:

Cincinnati Offense vs. Louisville Defense
Rush Success10371
Line Yards4145
Pass Success5943
Pass Blocking**658
Finishing Drives715
** Pass Blocking (Off.) vs. Pass Rush (Def.)

Louisville Offense vs. Cincinnati Defense
Rush Success9326
Line Yards5333
Pass Success7214
Pass Blocking**454
Finishing Drives7647
** Pass Blocking (Off.) vs. Pass Rush (Def.)

Pace of Play / Other
PFF Tackling32122
PFF Coverage6898
SP+ Special Teams1427
Seconds per Play25.9 (49)26.4 (62)
Rush Rate49.2% (94)57.7% (35)
Data via (CFBD), FootballOutsiders, SP+, Pro Football Focus and SportSource Analytics.

Cincinnati vs Louisville Betting Pick

Again, in a game between two backup quarterbacks, wouldn’t you rather have the better defense?

Neither offense will have success with backup quarterbacks and ineffective, inexperienced play-calling. However, both defenses have a nucleus of experienced players.

But Cincinnati’s defense is just better. It has key advantages in tackling, coverage and Success Rate Allowed. It’s a unit that should maintain its form despite losing its mastermind.

The Action Network App has logged sharp movement on Cincinnati, and Brett McMurphy has already tracked a pick on Cincinnati +2.5.

I’ll back McMurphy, the sharps and the better defense in Boston on Saturday.

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