Odds taken from DraftKings sportsbook.
|SMU Mustangs||+10.5 (-115)
|O 65 (-110)
|Cincinnati Bearcats||-10.5 (-105)
|U 65 (-110)
The pressure is all on Cincinnati here. For weeks, people have eyed the Bearcats’ schedule and circled this game as a spot where they could possibly fall and lose their chances at a College Football Playoff appearance. However, after two losses in three weeks, SMU has fallen off the radar. The Bearcats just better hope they haven’t fallen too far off — or SMU can sneak in and steal it.
We don’t expect Cincinnati to falter — a win and they’re in the AAC title back — but SMU should cover the spread.
Garcia’s 2021 record: (20-18)
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If you’re a fan of old-school, smash-mouth football, you may want to avert your eyes.
This isn’t Eric Dickerson’s SMU — where the running back is galloping across defenses. No, this is Tanner Mordecai’s SMU (we’re not saying they’re the same thing) where passing yards and points come almost as quickly as one can count.
The senior signal-caller for the Ponies is second in the nation in passing touchdowns (37), seventh in passing yards (3,264), and 30th in QBR (70.4). There’s no doubt about the matchup to watch in this game — SMU’s receivers vs. the Bearcats’ defensive backfield.
The Mustangs duo of Danny Gray and Rashee Rice is prolific no matter the conference. Gray has more of the big-play capability and has reeled in 49 catches for 803 yards and nine touchdowns. That said, Gray is a question mark after leaving last week’s game vs. UCF early with an injury, though the hope is he can go.
Rice does have homerun capability but hasn’t been used deep as frequently, catching 51 passes for 599 yards and eight touchdowns. They will have to go against one of the best secondaries in the country, featuring lockdown corners Ahmad Gardner and Coby Bryant.
He’s the quarterback of an undefeated team. He came into the season in the Heisman conversation; not at the front of those talks, but in the mix. He’s led his team to 25 consecutive games at home.
Yet it somehow feels like Desmond Ridder isn’t being talked about enough in this game? Ridder, who earlier this week was named one of five finalists for the Johnny Unitas Golden Arm Award, enters play with 22 touchdowns and six interceptions on the season. Not to mention he is a legitimate dual-threat quarterback, currently second on the team with 288 rushing yards and five scores.
Yet because he ranks behind Mordecai in many passing categories, and the wins haven’t been coming by wide margins, conversation is that he hasn’t been quite as Bearcats fans had hoped.
However, in home games this year, Ridder has been fantastic, throwing 12 touchdowns and two interceptions in those games, with a QBR of 178.9 or better in four of five contests.
The X-factor for SMU is if it’s going to be able to move the ball on the ground. The Ponies have marched up and down the field through the air this season, but haven’t faced a defense as staunch against the pass to this point. That means it’s going to be up to running back Tre Siggers. A senior in his third season as one of the feature backs, Siggers has run 137 times for 663 yards (4.7 YPC) and eight touchdowns.
Speaking of x-factor running backs, look no farther than Cincnnatti’s Jerome Ford. A junior in his first season as the bell-cow back, Ford has run 142 times for 888 yards (6.3 yards per carry) and 15 touchdowns — all of which rank first or second in the conference.
Ridder has led the offense, but Ford takes them to the next level.
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|Teams||Southern Methodist University at No. 5 Cincinnati Bearcats|
|Location||Nippert Stadium, Cincinnati, Ohio.|
|Time||Saturday, Nov. 20, 3:30 p.m. EST|
|How to watch||ESPN|
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Tony writes about baseball for WSN.com after recently graduating with his Masters from the Medill School of Journalism at Northwestern University. Prior to that, Tony was a local sports reporter for MLive Media Group, based out of Jackson, Michigan where he covered everything from high school to professional sports. He graduated from Michigan State in 2015 with a degree in journalism. During his time there he covered the Michigan State football and men’s basketball teams from 2013-15 and hosted a sports radio show on WDBM 89FM.More info on Tony Garcia
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