Today's Free Picks for
Posted at 10:30 AM EST.
Cincinnati +115 ML over SMU
Gerald J. Ford Stadium – Abilene, TX
Streaming: On ESPN2 in the Sports Group (Note: TV guide says 10 PM but start time is 9)
9:00 PM EST. The Mustangs own an eight-game home winning streak and have gone 4-1 ATS in their previous five tilts as a home favorite. Most recently on its own turf, SMU authored a 30-27 victory over a ranked Memphis team who incidentally is the reigning and defending AAC champion. In spite of the accolades that accompany the Pony Express’ success in Abilene as of late, Cincinnati opened laying a point to SMU which immediately grabbed our attention. Nevertheless, the market didn’t agree that Cincinnati should be the chalk and as a result the initial favorite has become the underdog. That is a significant turn of events and it translates to value.
On paper, this game is virtually a 50/50 proposition. Keyword is “on paper”. However, we are not convinced that Southern Methodist and the University of Cincinnati are as closely matched as the rankings, analysis, and tale of the tape may explicate. Yes, Cincinnati played two less games than Southern Methodist has this season so-far but then again who has SMU played besides Memphis? North Texas (a team that owns wins over a FCS team and Middle Tennessee State), Stephen F Austin (a FCS team), Texas State (a cupcake), and Tulane. Against Tulane most recently, Southern Methodist had trouble putting the Green Wave away as overtime was required to declare a victory against a team that blew two 17-point plus leads this season. Earlier this season, SMU also had trouble with Texas State when it opened up its campaign in San Marcos, edging out the Bobcats by a touchdown despite spotting 24½-points to T-State at kick-off. SMU can score points but that’s not the issue. The issue is that they more often than not, leave their defense at home.
By contrast. Cincinnati is a stingy bunch, giving up just 12.3 points per game. A highlight of Cincinnati’s capabilities defensively came when it controlled an Army offense that had scored 79 points in two games preceding the match to just 10 points when the two sides met in September. Memphis, Tulane, SFA, Texas State, and North Texas are not known for their defensive prowess so we suspect that this match-up for SMU could be a nightmare. At the very least, it’s a massive step up in class in facing the defense of the Bearcats.
Offensively, Cincinnati can counterpunch every time. Defensively, Cinci has a massive edge. That said, we are not one for breaking down X’s and O’s but when appropriate it is necessary to point out a mismatch when there is evidence. Cincinnati has all the makings of a New Year’s Six Bowl team while the Mustangs are not even close. This stage will serve as the perfect venue for the ‘Cats to demonstrate why this game not only has upset potential (if one can call it that) but Cincy can easily rout the Mustangs, while the opposite is almost impossible. Now, thanks to meaningless trends, market perception and media influence and misleading results, the wrong side is favored and we are getting the superior team at the superior price. Cincy outright is the call.
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Cincinnati +115 (Risking 2 units - To Win: 2.30)