Shake off that turkey coma. There’s football on TV! Join BetAmerica columnist Ken Willinger as he examines three of the most intriguing games from college football’s busy Friday schedule.
This game carries tons of postseason weight—AAC title implications, a Cotton Bowl invite and head coaches soon to be plucked by Power Five schools. I crunched a lot of numbers, and the spread is right on the money. So it now becomes a “listen to your gut” matchup.
Since its two-point loss at Temple, Memphis has averaged 47.4 points per game and won by an average margin of 18.8 points. In Cincinnati’s last five games, the Bearcats have scored 30.6 points per game and have won by an average margin of 12.8 points. If you throw out a 48-3 win over UConn, those numbers fall to 26.25 and 4.75, respectively.
Cincinnati has won three of its last four games by three points or less. The Bearcats lack big-game experience, while the Tigers have played against UCF in the past two AAC title games and won two ranked-versus-ranked AAC games this year (35-23 against Navy and 54-48 against SMU). Memphis is less likely to fall victim to the moment, and the Tigers’ explosiveness means they are never out of it.
Pick: Memphis -12
This time of year determining the more motivated team is sometimes all it takes to gamble successfully. Here we have a Boise State team trying to secure a Cotton Bowl bid and a Colorado State team that will not be going to a bowl game. The enthusiasm offered by the spoiler role can quickly dissipate if the Rams fall behind.
The current weather report calls for 1-3 inches of snow around game time. More importantly, I’ll look at line play in this matchup. Boise State is great in the trenches—17th and 14th, respectively, in offensive and defensive adjusted-line yards. Colorado State, by comparison, is terrible (107th and 119th). It will be cold and snowy, so it will be tough to pass the ball, and the Broncos are much more prepared to move the ball on the ground.
Pick: Boise State -14
Here we have another great “motivation” spot, as the Cornhuskers are hosting a ranked opponent that beat them in a close game last year, and Nebraska needs to win to secure bowl eligibility.
Iowa has won the last four games in this series. The Hawkeyes only average 23.5 points per game and could be without two of their top skill players—running back Tyler Goodson and wide receiver Brandon Smith. Nebraska lost wide receiver Kanawai Noa for the year to a knee injury, and fellow wideout Wan’Dale Robinson also might miss this game.
Cold, windy conditions also screams “offense killer” to me, and Iowa hasn’t needed any help killing offenses this year, anyway (the Hawkeyes have allowed 12.2 points per game). Still, I go back to the motivation factor. Whoever wants to live in the moment and play in these conditions more is the team that is going to cover. For my money that team will be Nebraska.