SMU vs Cincinnati Odds, Picks, Predictions | How to Bet Saturday’s AAC Matchup

SMU vs Cincinnati Odds, Picks, Predictions | How to Bet Saturday’s AAC Matchup article feature image

Photo by George Walker/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images. Pictured: Tanner Mordecai (SMU)

SMU vs Cincinnati Odds

Saturday, Oct. 22
12 p.m. ET
SMU Odds
-110o / -110u
Cincinnati Odds
-110o / -110u
Odds via DraftKings. Get up-to-the-minute college football odds here.

Cincinnati lost its season opener to Arkansas and won't be headed back to the College Football Playoff this season. However, the Bearcats have reeled off yet another winning streak under head coach Luke Fickell.

Cincinnati is again the favorites in the AAC, but the Bearcats haven't really been tested since that opening-week game against the Hogs.

They will be tested on Saturday when the Bearcats travel to Dallas to take on SMU at 12 p.m. ET.

Both teams have underperformed expectations in the last handful of weeks and failed to beat the market spread. The Bearcats are now a bit inflated on the road against a struggling SMU team that has an explosive offense all over the field.

The Mustangs are one of the fastest offenses in the country and even though they lost three straight games to Maryland, TCU and UCF, they're in a prime all-in home spot here on Saturday afternoon.

Southern Methodist Mustangs

SMU has underperformed to this point in the season, but the biggest flaw has been the run defense. The Mustangs will struggle to contain the Cincy run game.

However, on the other side of the ball, SMU has an excellent passing attack led by Mordecai, and it uses its pace to wear out defenses.

The biggest strength of the Cincy defense by the metrics is the pass rush, but that's also the strength of SMU. The Mustangs rank top-15 in pass protection, finish drives with scores at a solid rate and can break off explosive plays from anywhere.

Mordecai has 15 Big Time Throws this season to just six Turnover Worthy Plays. For a quarterback that throws as much as he does, his Turnover Worthy Play Rate is a very low 2.2% this season. He's averaged 8.5 yards per attempt and completed 60% of his passes this season.

Given that his average depth of target (aDOT) is 10.2 yards, Mordecai is going to really test this secondary that isn't as talented as it was last year. While no quarterback has really been able to threaten Cincy since Sauce Gardner and Coby Bryant left for the NFL, Mordecai should be able to move the ball at will.

Cincinnati Bearcats

If you just look at the advanced numbers, Cincinnati's defense looks as good as it was last season. The Bearcats rank top-20 in the country in almost every defensive metric included in our matchup matrix below.

But you have to consider the list of opponents that the Bearcats have faced.

Cincinnati struggled mightily with a Tulsa team that hasn't been able to stop anyone all season. The Bearcats needed a pick-six to get the 10-point win, but had eight fewer first downs.

When Cincinnati played a terrible South Florida team and was a 20+ point favorite, the Bearcats won the yardage by just 50 yards and won the game by four points in come-from-behind fashion.

The Bearcats played a bad Indiana team that could easily be 1-5, and while the Bearcats ran away with the final score, the underlying box score was much more competitive.

Cincinnati had 40 more total yards and lost first downs 28-15. The Bearcats were completely unable to run the ball at all in that game and had 40 yards on 30 rush attempts.

The Bearcats' most impressive and complete victory came against a MAC team in a 38-17 win against Miami (OH).

I'm down on Indiana, Tulsa and South Florida as a whole. Given that the Bearcats struggled with those opponents, I think there's major regression coming for Cincinnati when it faces an excellent offensive opponent.

Cincinnati lost a ton of its defense to the NFL draft, including most of its secondary. It's not possible that the Bearcats still own a top-15 passing defense — they just haven't faced a good passing offense to this point in the season.

That changes Saturday with Tanner Mordecai.

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SMU vs Cincinnati Matchup Analysis

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

Cincinnati Offense vs. SMU Defense
Rush Success7383
Line Yards2261
Pass Success3930
Pass Blocking**91107
Finishing Drives6482
** Pass Blocking (Off.) vs. Pass Rush (Def.)

SMU Offense vs. Cincinnati Defense
Rush Success688
Line Yards7718
Pass Success6115
Pass Blocking**143
Finishing Drives3956
** Pass Blocking (Off.) vs. Pass Rush (Def.)

Pace of Play / Other
PFF Tackling3786
PFF Coverage8066
SP+ Special Teams7351
Seconds per Play25.8 (51)20.0 (2)
Rush Rate50.5% (82)43.2% (118)
Data via (CFBD), FootballOutsiders, SP+, Pro Football Focus and SportSource Analytics.

SMU vs Cincinnati Betting Pick

Cincinnati has gotten pretty fortunate on a bunch of high-leverage plays this season. The Bearcats have converted 5-of-7 fourth-down attempts and opponents are 1-of-11 on fourth down against them.

SMU isn't good along the defensive line in stopping the run, but the Bearcats' run game has been inconsistent in the last month and may not be able to take advantage of that weakness.

The Bearcats have struggled in the box scores against a much weaker schedule and that leaves them inflated in the market here.

I think this is the week regression finally catches up with the Bearcats on the road. I like SMU +3, but I wouldn't play it past this number in what should be a coin-flip game.

Don't be surprised if Mordecai finds a lot of success throwing downfield, as he's the first great passer Cincy has faced all season.

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