Notre Dame vs. Cincinnati Odds & Picks for Week 5: Why The Bearcats Are The Play

Notre Dame vs. Cincinnati Odds & Picks for Week 5: Why The Bearcats Are The Play article feature image

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  • Desmond Ridder and Cincinnati face off against Notre Dame in a top-10 matchup.
  • This will be the Bearcats' second road game of the season following their win over Indiana.
  • Collin Wilson previews the game and offers up his best bet.

Notre Dame vs. Cincinnati Odds

Notre Dame Odds+2 (-105)
Cincinnati Odds-2 (-115)
Moneyline+110 / -130
Over/Under50 (-115 / -105)
Time2:30 p.m. ET
Odds via BetRivers. Get up-to-the-minute college football odds here.

Notre Dame is undefeated, but its postgame win expectancies say there may be a bit of fool's gold behind the win-loss record.

The Irish's postgame win percentage includes 45% against Florida State, a fourth-quarter comeback against Toledo and -1.1 overall yards per play against Wisconsin.

Notre Dame ranks fourth in the nation in turnovers gained. Brian Kelly's team has seen some good fortune, as it ranks top-30 in average offensive starting field position.

Before coming to South Bend, Kelly was the head coach at Cincinnati. Those ties still run deep, as the Bearcats lost defensive coordinator Marcus Freeman to the Irish this past offseason.

That means there's plenty of familiarity between these two teams.

The Bearcats won and covered the spread against Indiana with a postgame win expectancy of 57%.

Head coach Luke Fickell still needs to sweep AAC play, but Indiana and Notre Dame represent the two biggest bullet points for the College Football Playoff committee if it was to select the first-ever Group of Five program.

Led by dual-threat quarterback Desmond Ridder, the Bearcats have a balanced offensive attack backed by one of the best defenses despite the loss of Freeman at coordinator.

Cincinnati vs. Notre Dame Betting Preview

Saturday, Oct. 2
2:30 p.m. ET

Cincinnati Bearcats

Can Ridder Stay on Schedule?

Cincinnati continues to pile victories with losses to only Georgia, Memphis and Ohio State since Thanksgiving 2018.

The key to success on the offensive side of the ball is a top-tier rank in Standard Downs Success Rate. The Bearcats' ability to find success in standard downs has forced the team into the second-lowest number of third downs in all of FBS.

Ridder gets a boost in the ground game from Jerome Ford, who has put up four explosive runs and an average of 4.3 yards after contact.

Jerome Ford gives Cincy their first 6️⃣

— PFF College (@PFF_College) September 18, 2021

The Bearcats rank ninth in the country in points per possession past the 40-yard line, averaging 4.7 points per attempt. In 14 red-zone attempts, Ridder has led his team to 12 touchdowns through three games.

While there is a lack of explosiveness in passing downs, the Bearcats have recorded only 57 attempts versus 129 in standard downs.

Freeman's biggest to-do when coaching the Irish defense in this game is to knock the Bearcats off schedule.

Sack the Irish Quarterback

Brian Kelly announced there is no quarterback controversy after freshman Drew Pyne filled in for Jack Coan in the victory over Wisconsin.

No matter the quarterback, the Irish offense ranks 123rd in Havoc Allowed and is second-to-last in FBS in tackles for loss allowed.

The Cincinnati defense will look to expose the Notre Dame offense, as the Bearcats defense sits 35th in coverage and is the best team in the nation in pass rush grading, per PFF.

Michael Penix Jr gets picked off by Arquon Bush!! #Cincinnati#Indiana

— Sideline CFB (@SidelineCFB) September 18, 2021

Led by Arquon Bush and a handful of names that will be on NFL rosters, the Cincinnati defense ranks fifth in the nation in pass breakups per game.

This is a heavy ask for a Notre Dame offense that has a Success Rate outside the top 100, ranks 128th in Line Yards and struggles to put points on the board in scoring position.

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Notre Dame Fighting Irish

Speeding up the Ridder's Release

The key to any success Coan has had as a passer is directly correlated to the speed of which the quarterback is able to detect pressure and hit the hot route.

The Wisconsin transfer has his highest NFL rating to the slot position, with an NFL rating over 100 when the ball is released within 1.5 to 1.75 seconds.

The passing game efficiency takes a dive when Coan holds on to the ball longer than 2.5 seconds.

Considering the pass rush coming from Cincinnati, Tommy Rees' game plan may include short routes to the slot if Notre Dame keeps the average third-down distance within seven yards per attempt.

Winning in Standard Downs

The biggest battle on the field is Cincinnati's offensive possession on standard downs. The Irish defense fields a rank of 11th in Success Rate and second in limiting explosiveness.

As mentioned above, the bread and butter of Ridder is moving the Cincinnati offense on schedule and avoiding passing downs.

Notre Dame has a steep fall-off in passing downs, ranking 60th in Success Rate and 105th against explosiveness. The Irish are 35th in tackles for loss per game but will need a maximum effort to limit the Cincinnati offense.

JD Bertrand and the Notre Dame defense devour Jordan Travis

— Justin Groc (@justgroc) September 6, 2021

Notre Dame has been the poster child of turnover luck through the first quarter of the season, a stat that could rear its head against Cincinnati. The Bearcats have committed three interceptions and coughed up four fumbles through three games.

The Irish have been opportunistic against offenses that make mistakes, so Cincinnati will depend on Ridder to play a clean game.

Cincinnati vs. Notre Dame Matchup Analysis

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

Cincinnati Offense vs. Notre Dame Defense




Rush Success
Line Yards
Pass Success
Pass Blocking**
Big Play
Finishing Drives
**Pass Blocking (Off.) vs. Pass Rush (Def.)

Notre Dame Offense vs. Cincinnati Defense




Rush Success
Line Yards
Pass Success
Pass Blocking**
Big Play
Finishing Drives
**Pass Blocking (Off.) vs. Pass Rush (Def.)

Pace of Play / Other
PFF Tackling
PFF Coverage
Middle 8
SP+ Special Teams
Plays per Minute
Rush Rate
53.2% (72)
50.% (95)

Data via College Football Data, FootballOutsiders, SP+, PFF and SportSource Analytics.

Cincinnati vs. Notre Dame Betting Pick

Mother Nature may have a big say in this game with rain and double-digit winds in the forecast. While the artificial turf at Notre Dame Stadium will weather any precipitation better than natural grass, this is a game that may be dictated on the ground.

There is a massive difference in Line Yards between the two offenses, with Cincinnati at 25th and Notre Dame at 128th.

Kyle Hamilton is the best safety in college football, which should eliminate ground explosiveness by Ridder and Ford. If there's precipitation, that would favor the team that controls the trench and the ground game — and that points heavily to Cincinnati.

The Bearcats also have the exclusive advantage in Finishing Drives on both sides of the ball, as well as the knowledge of a Freeman-called defense. New Bearcats defensive coordinator Mike Tressel comes in to replace Freeman, but Fickell is the architect of the 3-3-5 defense that sends blitz at a 32% rate.

The Action Network projects this game as a pick'em with a total of 51.5.

While there is no value in the total, there are too many advantages for Cincinnati on both sides of the ball that have factored into the market moving to the Bearcats -2.

There will be a steady flow of money backing Notre Dame at home in this spot, but the trench belongs to Cincinnati and its quest for a College Football Playoff appearance.

Pick: Cincinnati ML -130 or Better

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