Game time: 7 p.m. ET, October 8, 2021
Venue: Nippert Stadium, Cincinnati, OH
Where to watch: ESPN
Opening Odds at USA Sportsbooks
DraftKings: Cincinnati -28
BetMGM: Cincinnati -28.5
Caesars: Cincinnati -28.5
Temple: 3-2 (1-0 American Athletic Conference)
No. 5 Cincinnati: 4-0
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Temple - Cincinnati preview and analysis
Temple: won 34-31 vs. Memphis on Oct. 2
Cincinnati: won 24-13 at No. 14 Notre Dame on Oct. 2
A spot in the College Football Playoff is in reach for the Cincinnati Bearcats. Sure it would require eight more victories, but the toughest test is out of the way for the favorites in the American Conference.
Cincinnati will return home for its AAC opener after an impressive two-week road trip to take on the Temple Owls on Friday to continue their final-four push.
It took a few weeks, but the Bearcats did the country a favor in showing the Notre Dame Fighting Irish were not worthy of being a believable CFP contender. Cincinnati won 24-13 against the ninth-ranked team in the country, moved up two spots to a top-five positioning, and are now on the fast track to competing for a national championship.
Desmond Ridder threw for 297 yards and two touchdown passes on the road, and the Bearcats' defense held Notre Dame quarterback Drew Pyne to just 143 yards and a touchdown.
That's why this win for Cincy isn't considered a fraud. While Notre Dame's defense struggled at points this season, the offense carried them to the Irish's 4-0 start. But starting quarterback Jack Coan did not play due to an ankle injury sustained last week against the Wisconsin Badgers.
Cincinnati picked its spots on the road and held Notre Dame to 341 total yards, and the chance to run the table is in its own destiny.
But the Bearcats will be welcoming a Temple squad that has every right to feel great this week after a 3-point win over the Memphis Tigers at home. Not as dramatic as blowing a fourth-quarter lead against the UTSA Roadrunners, but still a dagger loss to the Owls, led by D'Wan Mathis' 322 yards and three touchdowns in one of his better games this season.
The weakness is the Temple’s defense. The Owls have reeled off three wins out of four since giving up 61 points to the Rutgers Scarlet Knights. That Rutgers game was weird because the Knights scored all those points on just 365 yards and forcing five turnovers.
Temple's pass defense has allowed only 147.2 yards this season, but just gave up 305 and three touchdowns to Memphis quarterback Seth Hanigan. Things change when you face a talented passing attack. Ridder is making a Heisman push and could further his case with a strong showing against a supposedly strong Temple defense.
It's going to be a fired-up crowd for a Cincinnati team that has higher hopes than just a fun Cinderella story. Ridder will have a big game and do enough to open the play-action for Jerome Ford to impose his will on the run. Cincinnati by 31
Temple is 1-2 this season against the spread as an underdog and 8-8 in its last 16 in that scenario.
Cincinnati is 13-9 ATS as a favorite and 22-0 straight up as a favorite.
Players to watch
Temple: Look for Amad Anderson Jr. to get more targets after a career-day last week. He had three receptions for a team-high 108 yards and a touchdown.
Cincinnati: Alec Pierce will continue to see a lot of targets his way, but keep an eye on Leonard Taylor as well. He had 70 yards and a touchdown on four receptions last Saturday. Although it seems one-sided in this Cincinnati offense, everyone gets touches.
Passing: D’Wan Mathis -- 762 yards, 5 TD, 1 INT
Rushing: Edward Saydee -- 165 yards, 1 TD
Receiving: Jose Barbon -- 280 yards, 1 TD
Passing: Desmond Ridder -- 1,045 yards, 9 TD, 2 INT
Rushing: Jerome Ford -- 367 yards, 6 TD
Receiving: Alec Pierce -- 294 yards, 1 TD
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