Week 12 - Cincinnati at Rutgers

Posted Nov 15, 2013

Week 12 Fearless Predictions & Preview - Cincinnati at Rutgers

Cincinnati (7-2) at Rutgers (5-3) Nov. 16, 12:00, ESPNEWS

Why You Should Give A Hoot: Don't look now, but Cincinnati is still in the hunt for an American title, having lost just one league game a month ago to South Florida. The Bearcats won for the fourth straight time last week, holding off a furious charge from SMU. They can remain alive for a 10-win season and a January bowl game with a win in Piscataway this weekend. Rutgers returns to action following a much-needed bye week, needing to play at a higher level than it did in October. The Scarlet Knights have lost two of their last three games, while narrowly escaping one-win Temple, 23-20, before the break.

Why Cincinnati Might Win: The Bearcats are better—and more efficient—on both sides of the ball than the Scarlet Knights. Cincinnati sports arguably the American's top O-line to go along with a defense that ranks No. 17 nationally in sacks. It plans to pressure mistake-prone QB Gary Nova by unleashing DE Silverberry Mouhon and an aggressive collection of linebackers on a Rutgers front wall that's struggled all year in pass protection. When Nova feels the heat, he becomes one of the league's most erratic passers.

Why Rutgers Might Win: The Scarlet Knight front seven has come a long way since the beginning of the year. Rutgers will make Cincinnati earn every yard, smacking it with a defense yielding 3.2 yards a carry and picking up sacks in bunches. One of the chief catalysts has been LB Steve Longa, who's making a strong case for the Freshman All-American Team. Never far from the ball, he has 80 tackles, three sacks and a couple of forced fumbles.

Who To Watch Out For: The Scarlet Knights have had all kinds of problems defending the pass in 2013. This week, they'll go up against hyper-accurate Brendon Kay, who's hitting on 74% of his passes, but rarely airs out deep balls.

- When Paul James suffered a crack fibula on Sept. 21, he was No. 2 nationally in rushing. Seven weeks later, he still leads Rutgers in rushing. The Knights are hoping to finally have James back, especially since Justin Goodwin is doubtful with a hamstring injury.

- The Cincinnati corps of receivers doesn't boast a superstar, but it has deepened around mainstay Anthony McClung. Mekale McKay, Chris Moore, Max Morrison and Shaq Washington have all stepped up to make plays throughout the fall.

What Will Happen: The return of James will provide a boost, but not enough to overcome a more balanced opponent. Cincinnati does a lot of things well, including pull out close games. The Bearcats will hang on for a second straight week, prevailing on the strength of a couple of key turnovers.

Prediction: Cincinnati 28 … Rutgers 24
Line: Cincinnati -1 o/u: 53
Must See Rating: (5 The Challenger Disaster – 1 MTV EMAs) … 2
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