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Last Updated Dec 22, 2021, 15:37 PM

Houston Cougars vs. Cincinnati Bearcats Picks, Predictions, Odds

Dec. 4, 2021
Jonathan Willis
VI Betting Expert
VegasInsider.com

The American Athletic Conference (AAC) Championship is set as the Houston Cougar head to Ohio to try and hand the Cincinnati Bearcats their first loss of the season. Kick off is set for 4:00 p.m. ET and will air on ABC from Nippert Stadium in Cincinnati, Ohio.

Score Prediction

Cincinnati 30, Houston 17

Best Bets

Cincinnati -10.5 (-110) at WynnBet

Under 53.5 (-110) at WynnBet

Houston Cougars vs. Cincinnati Bearcats Predictions

A win over the Houston Cougars on Saturday in the AAC Championship Game would cap off an unbeaten season for the Cincinnati Bearcats and likely pave the way for them to be the first Group of Five team to make the College Football Playoff. Cincinnati has been No. 4 in the CFP rankings for the last few weeks and should be in a “Win and in” situation. However, an Alabama win over Georgia in the SEC Championship Game and an Oklahoma State blowout of Baylor in the Big 12 Championship Game could make things very interesting for the Bearcats.

Luke Fickell looks to be staying in Cincinnati now that former defensive coordinator Marcus Freeman has been named the new head coach at Notre Dame. The Bearcats have an elite defense and a very solid offense, and they are double-digit favorites over the Houston Cougars on Saturday afternoon. They only beat Tulsa by three points for the AAC title last year, but they will be much more dominant this time.

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Houston Cougars vs. Cincinnati Bearcats Betting Odds

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Houston Cougars vs. Cincinnati Bearcats Betting Resources

  • Matchup: AAC Championship
  • Date: Saturday, December 4, 2021
  • Venue: Nippert Stadium
  • Location: Cincinnati, Ohio
  • TV-Time: ABC, 4:00 p.m. ET

Houston Cougars Betting Analysis

Straight Up - SU, Against the Spread - ATS, Over-Under (O/U)

  • SU: 11-1
  • ATS: 7-5
  • O/U: 7-5

Dana Holgorsen is known as an offensive guru, but Houston’s offense ranks 43rd in SP+. The Cougars are ninth in scoring offense (38.2 PPG), but they rank 40th in yards per play and 49th in total offense.

Clayton Tune has played well under center for Houston, topping 3,000 yards (8.5 YPA) with 26 touchdowns and eight interceptions after a down 2020 season. Tune has been sacked 27 times though, and the Cougars’ offensive line might have trouble holding off Cincinnati’s defensive line.

The top receiver for the Cougars is Nathaniel Dell. Dell has 71 receptions for 1,027 yards and 11 touchdowns. Jeremy Singleton is a deep ball threat to watch with 10 catches for 180 yards and a score in his last two games.

Houston’s defense ranks 15th in Defensive SP+. The Cougars are allowing 3.2 YPC and 6.5 YPA. Opponents are converting just 29.5% of their third downs against this defense, and it will be important for them to get off the field.

Cincinnati Bearcats Betting Analysis

Straight Up - SU, Against the Spread - ATS, Over-Under (O/U)

  • SU: 12-0
  • ATS: 7-5
  • O/U: 5-7

Desmond Ridder came into the season as a dark horse Heisman Trophy contender. Ridder has played well, completing 66% of his passes for exactly 3,000 yards with 27 touchdowns and eight interceptions, but he has not been a world beater. The senior quarterback has thrown five interceptions in his last five games, but he has averaged at least 10.8 YPA in three of his last four starts.

Ridder’s favorite target has been Alec Pierce. Pierce has 48 receptions for 802 yards and seven touchdowns. Tight end Josh Whyle is a red zone threat with six touchdown catches, but he has just one reception for two yards in Cincinnati’s last two games.

Jerome Ford is paving the way in the ground game. He has run for 1,055 yards (5.8 YPC) with 17 touchdowns this season. Ford can be a threat out of the backfield from time to time, but Cincinnati has just 28 completions to running backs this year.

The Bearcats have an elite defense. Cincinnati ranks 10th in Defensive SP+, fifth in scoring defense, and fourth in yards per play. Ahmad Gardner and Coby Bryant are excellent cornerbacks, and Arquon Bush has played well on the perimeter too.

One of the major concerns with Cincinnati is its kicking. Three different kickers have been used, but the Bearcats are 4 of 13 with field goals of 30 yards or longer.

Inside the Stats - Houston Cougars

  • Record: 11-1
  • VI Ranking: 18
  • Points Scored: 465
  • Points Allowed: 238
  • PS/G: 38.8 (10th)
  • PA/G: 19.8 (19th)

Inside the Stats - Cincinnati Bearcats

  • Record: 12-0
  • VI Ranking: 2
  • Points Scored: 475
  • Points Allowed: 189
  • PS/G: 39.6 (8th)
  • PA/G: 15.8 (3rd)

Key Players to Watch

  • UH: Clayton Tune - QB (244/355, 3,013 yards, 26 TD, 8 INT)
  • UH: Nathaniel Dell - WR (71 catches, 1,027 yards, 11 TD)
  • CIN: Desmond Ridder - QB (223/338, 3,000 yards, 33 Total TDs, 8 INT)
  • CIN: Alec Pierce - WR (48 catches, 802 yards, 7 TD)

Houston Cougars vs. Cincinnati Bearcats Betting Conclusion

It’s going to be tough for Houston to stay within the number at Nippert Stadium. The Cougars don’t run the ball particularly well, and Cincinnati has the cornerbacks to stop Dell and Singleton in the passing game.

Houston Cougars vs. Cincinnati Bearcats Betting Trends

  • Cincinnati has covered the spread in seven of its last eight games when facing an AP-ranked school.
  • Cincinnati has gone UNDER the point total in 10 of its last 11 games when facing an AP-ranked school.
  • Cincinnati has covered the spread in three of its last four games when facing Houston.
  • The point total has gone UNDER in three of the last four meetings.


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