CFB: Big East programs with something to prove

CFB: Big East programs with something to prove

t won't be long before some big-time college football program is going to be ready to cough up the cash to have the services of Cincinnati coach Brian Kelly. Since taking over, Kelly is 27-6 (5-0 in 2009) and 17-12-1 against the spread. Last year's Big Ea


2009-10-16

t won't be long before some big-time college football program is going to be ready to cough up the cash to have the services of Cincinnati coach Brian Kelly. Since taking over, Kelly is 27-6 (5-0 in 2009) and 17-12-1 against the spread. Last year's Big East title and appearance in the Orange Bowl has the Queen City fired up about something besides college hoops finally. The Bearcats will continue their quest for a second straight conference crown when they take on South Florida in Tampa on Thursday night. Cincy is a 2.5-point favorite at last check on Sportsbook.com.

A few nay-sayers will complain that the Bearcats (3-2 ATS) have not played a Miami Hurricanes' schedule to this point, however how many teams would be undefeated today if they had ONE returning defensive starter? Quarterback Tony Pike is leading a sensational offense averaging 329.8 yards passing, often looking towards playmaker Mardy Gilyard. If teams try to double Gilyard, that has opened up chances for running back Jacob Ramsey to slice and dice the opposition. Coming into this game, Cincy is 6-0 ATS when playing against a team with a win percentage of 75 percent or higher over the last three seasons.

South Florida (5-0, 2-1 ATS) was on the edges of Big East title conversations coming into the season, after not meeting expectations a year ago. When senior quarterback Matt Grothe went down to injury, what supporters they had bailed faster than General Motors did on Saturn. However, redshirt freshman B.J. Daniels has stepped in under center and delivered big plays and wins against Florida State and Syracuse and all the sudden, more seats are being added to the Bulls bandwagon. They are 5-1 ATS in their last six lined games.

On defense, watch for defensive tackle George Selvie and safety Nate Allen, two outstanding talents. This gruesome twosome will have to get after Pike and their defense ranks fifth in scoring (9.4 PPG) and 10th in total yards allowed (263.0) nationally. They have forced 16 turnovers on the season.

"We'd be concerned if our defense was out there struggling, but as you can see the last two weeks, they've bowed up when they needed to and they're continuing to make plays," said Pike. "On offense, we're going to come out when we get the possessions and make the most out of it."

Cincy opened as 1.5-point favorites and were swiftly moved to -2.5 by the wagering public at Sportsbook.com, with total of 49.5. Cincinnati ranks third in the country in scoring with 43.2 points per game, with Pike throwing a TD pass in 15 consecutive games. The Bearcats are 15-6-1 ATS against teams with winnings records. South Florida has to contain the Cincinnati offense and hope to hit a few big plays to grab the momentum. The Bulls are only 3-9 ATS against winning teams in last the dozen tries.

This could be head-buster and a lower scoring than it appears. USF is 6-0 UNDER when playing against a team with a winning record and the Bearcats are 12-3 UNDER when the line is +3 to -3.

These are two programs that will showcase their considerable talents to a national cable audience and South Florida is 8-3 ATS at home against Big East competition the last three years. One of those losses has been against Cincinnati, whom they are 1-4 and 0-5 against the spread.

ESPN has this Big East showcase at 7:45 Eastern. The StatFox Power Line indicates South Florida by 3, meaning the wrong team may be favored.

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