AAC Championship Game: Tulsa vs. Cincinnati odds, preview, and pick
The Cincinnati Bearcats will look to remain unbeaten on the season with a matchup against the Tulsa Golden Hurricane on Saturday in the AAC Championship Game.
Let's break down the details of the title game and make a pick.
#23 Tulsa vs. #9 Cincinnati
Sun, December 20 2020, 1:00 AM
Tulsa Golden Hurricane
Tulsa looks to play spoiler
The Golden Hurricane is glad to get this chance, given its game with Cincinnati in mid-October was cancelled because of COVID-19 issues. Tulsa has just one loss on the season, an opening-game defeat to Oklahoma State, which it led heading into the fourth quarter.
Tulsa’s last game was a 19-6 victory over Navy two weeks ago, which ended a stretch of three straight wins by less than a touchdown, and Tulsa needed fourth-quarter comebacks in each of those three games.
That does not bode well for a matchup with Cincinnati, which is very talented on both sides of the ball.
Tulsa’s defense is led by linebacker Zaven Collins and rover Kendarin Ray, and it is among the top 20 teams in the nation in total yards and passing defense. However, Collins got injured in the Navy game, and might not be at full strength.
Offensively, Tulsa will rely on a trio of running backs who each have more than 60 carries and 300 yards this season, while quarterback Zach Smith had subpar performances in his last two outings.
Bearcats shooting for 'New Year’s Six' appearance
Many around the Cincinnati program feel the Bearcats should be fighting for a spot in the College Football Playoff, but it appears obvious that they will have to settle for a huge bowl game instead. They have not played in a month, because of COVID cancellations, and the CFP committee has taken that opportunity to drop them in the rankings.
Cincinnati's last win was a second-half comeback victory over Central Florida, and quarterback Desmond Ridder scored four touchdowns in the 36-33 thriller. Ridder has topped 300 yards passing in his last two games, with five touchdown passes and no interceptions. His ability to run combines with running back Gerrid Doaks to lead a rushing attack that ranks 12th in the nation, at 234 yards per game.
Cincinnati’s defense is no slouch, either. It has an FBS-leading, forced-turnover streak that sits at 18 games. The Bearcats also lead the AAC in scoring defense and have allowed the fewest total, passing, and rushing yards per game in the conference.
How they match up
This is a rough matchup for Tulsa. Cincinnati has an explosive offensive unit, and Tulsa will need to keep up. However, the Bearcats should not struggle terribly with Tulsa’s rushing attack, which will put pressure on Smith to make big plays.
Cincinnati is more well-rounded team, and it should just be a matter of time before the Bearcats pull away and move to 10-0 with their 19th consecutive home win.