Time: Noon ET, October 16, 2021
Venue: Nippert Stadium, Cincinnati, OH
Where to watch: ABC
Opening Odds at USA Sportsbooks
DraftKings: Cincinnati -20.5
BetMGM: Cincinnati -21
Caesars: Cincinnati -21
Central Florida: 3-2 (1-1 American)
No. 3 Cincinnati: 5-0 (1-0 American)
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Central Florida - Cincinnati preview and analysis
UCF: won 20-16 vs. East Carolina on Oct. 9
Cincinnati: won 52-3 vs. Temple on Oct. 8
If life is this easy for the Cincinnati Bearcats in the coming weeks, life could be pretty heading into the College Football Playoff.
Still some time before the eventual showdown against the SMU Mustangs, but Cincinnati will try to move to 6-0 on Saturday when the Bearcats face the Central Florida Knights at home on ABC.
It's one of the rare times that Cincinnati is on national television for the world to see. Said world will get to see one of the more complete teams in the country continue to flex its muscle.
The Bearcats are coming off a convincing seven-touchdown win over the Temple Owls at home, six days after their biggest win at the Notre Dame Fighting Irish. Star quarterback Desmond Ridder continued his Heisman candidacy with 259 yards and three touchdown passes.
Temple kept things somewhat close in the first half down 17-3, but Cincy scored two touchdowns in the first four minutes of the third quarter -- including a 75-yard scamper from running back Jerome Ford -- to put the game out of reach. Ford carried it 15 times for 149 yards and two touchdowns.
“First time really playing a complete game,” Bearcats coach Luke Fickell said. “Not saying perfect by any means, but a complete game. We talked about keeping that pressure on.”
It was the 31st straight win for Cincinnati against unranked opponents, and once again, it was a complete effort on both sides. The Bearcats defense held Temple quarterback D'Wan Mathis to 120 yards and an interception while sacking him five times.
The Bearcats are also trying to extend their home winning streak to 24 straight when they face UCF. Only the Clemson Tigers have a longer streak than Cincy at this rate.
UCF has hit a snag since its 2-0 start found them inside the top-25. One-score losses to the Louisville Cardinals and Navy Midshipmen haven't helped the cause, but the Knights got back on track with a four-point home win against the East Carolina Pirates last Saturday.
It did require 10 points in the final 5:06 for UCF, but a one-yard score from Mark-Antony Richards with 23 seconds left preserved the win, but not the 10-point cover. Knights quarterback Mikey Keene had only 194 yards on 23 of 35 passing and also threw an interception.
If UCF is going to have any chance, Keene needs to play better than that. He got a lot of help from running back Johnny Richardson (104 yards, 1 TD), but in a potential scoring battle against this Cincinnati offense he needs to go off.
Something hasn't clicked for UCF as of late, and this has all the makings of Cincy overwhelming the Knights within the first 10 minutes. The Bearcats defense has averaged 12.2 points per game while holding offenses to under 300 total yards per game (294.4). Hard to think UCF does anything better than that. Cincinnati by 27
UCF is 4-14 against the spread the past three seasons against conference opponents, but 12-6 straight up.
UCF is 3-10 ATS since 1992 when an underdog between 21.5 and 31 points.
Passing: Dillon Gabriel -- 814 yards -- 9 TD, 3 INT
Rushing: Johnny Richardson -- 297 yards, 1 TD
Receiving: Ryan O’Keefe -- 315 yards, 1 TD
Passing: Desmond Ridder -- 1,304 yards, 12 TD, 2 INT
Rushing: Jerome Ford -- 520 yards, 8 TD
Receiving: Alec Pierce -- 387 yards, 2 TD
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