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Cincinnati vs. Indiana: NCAAF Week 3 betting odds, preview, and pick

Profile Picture: Jason Ence

September 17th, 2021

The Cincinnati Bearcats will try to pick up an important win over a Power 5 school when they travel to Bloomington to take on the Indiana Hoosiers.

Sat, September 18 2021, 4:00 PM







O 50







U 50

Bearcats are off to a hot start

Cincinnati is expected to be one of the Group of Five teams that can crash the College Football Playoff this season, and beating Indiana would be a huge step in that direction. The Bearcats are 2-0 to start the year, with dominant wins over Miami of Ohio and Murray State that have seen them outscore their opponents 91-21 and allow just 258 yards passing per game, 10th-best in the nation.

Quarterback Desmond Ridder, the 2020 AAC Player of the Year, is one of the top six players in the Heisman Trophy futures for good reason. He has posted 538 passing yards with six touchdowns and one interception while adding another touchdown on the ground, and ranks fourth in the nation so far in passing efficiency. Running back Jerome Ford, an Alabama transfer, has also done well, with a pair of 100-yard games and four rushing touchdowns while averaging nearly eight yards per carry.

Head coach Luke Fickell is being mentioned for the open USC vacancy, in large part due to the defensive unit he has built at Cincinnati. Fast and aggressive, they ranked 13th in the nation last season in yards per game allowed, and they’ve shown already this year that they will be a problem for most offenses. They will likely borrow from Iowa’s gameplay in the Hawkeyes' opening week win over Indiana to prepare for Michael Penix, Jr., and will look to move to 3-0 to set up a huge matchup with Notre Dame in two weeks.

Indiana needs Penix to step up

Prior to his knee injury last season, Penix had thrown 24 touchdowns to just eight interceptions in his first two seasons at Indiana. This year, he has just two touchdowns and three picks to go along with a measly 224 passing yards. He was horrible against Iowa in the opener, and last week against Idaho he did not fare particularly well either as he threw for just 68 yards on 11 completions.

The Hoosiers will be up against a very strong run defense, and Stephen Carr will need to have a solid day to help take pressure off Penix. He has rushed for 175 yards and a touchdown so far this season, but he will be up against a defense allowing less than 3.2 yards per carry in 2021.

The biggest concern for Indiana is their defensive secondary. They lost Chris Keys to an ACL tear, and Devon Matthews is questionable after an injury last weekend. Forcing turnovers has been one of Indiana’s strengths on defense the past few seasons, but that will be tested with inexperienced players against a powerful offensive attack. However, despite their big loss to Iowa they allowed less than five yards per play in the game, so they could give Ridder enough problems to slow him down.

Cincinnati and Indiana Betting Trends

  • The Bearcats are 10-5 ATS in their last 15 games
  • The Under is 12-6 in Cincinnati’s last 18 games, and 4-1 in their last five on the road
  • The Hoosiers are 10-0 SU in their last 10 regular season games against non-conference foes
  • The Under is 4-1 in Indiana’s last five games
  • The Hoosiers are 1-40 in their last 41 games against opponents ranked in the AP top 10

Bearcats will win easily

Indiana’s offense struggled mightily against Iowa, and their performance against Idaho did little to instill confidence that Penix will fare well against the Bearcats’ swarming unit. While the Hoosiers have a decent defense of their own, the issues in their secondary will prove too costly in the end.

If Cincinnati is able to get a two-score lead and force the Hoosiers to abandon the run, it will put even more pressure on Penix, and it could lead to things getting a bit out of hand. I believe Cincinnati will put up a solid number of points, but the Hoosiers will struggle to change their number on the scoreboard.

Take the Bearcats to easily cover the spread, which should probably be closer to a touchdown. Additionally, build a Same Game Combo play of Cincinnati -4 and under 49.5 points for a very winnable parlay payout.

Score prediction: Cincinnati 31, Indiana 13

NCAAF Week 3 PICK: CINCINNATI -4 (-109); SAME GAME COMBO CIN -4 and UNDER 49.5 (+265)