Week 13 - Cincinnati at Houston

Posted Nov 21, 2013

Week 13 Fearless Prediction & Preview - Cincinnati at Houston

Cincinnati (8-2) at Houston (7-3) Nov. 23, 12:00

Why You Should Give A Hoot: Louisville and UCF aren't playing in the game, yet the American is still staging a very interesting matchup in Week 13. The next best things to the Cards and the Knights have been Cincinnati and Houston, who meet at BBVA Compass Stadium on Saturday. Cincinnati head coach Tommy Tuberville returns to the Lone Star State, where he coached Texas Tech from 2010-12. He's done well in his debut with the Bearcats, leading the team to five straight wins. In fact, with a break, Cincy could still win a share of the league crown. Houston returns home after playing well against the conference's top two schools. The Cougars lost by five points to UCF and a touchdown to Louisville last Saturday. No moral victories here, but Houston's three losses have been by an average of only four points.

Why Cincinnati Might Win: The Bearcats do so many things well that they're a tough team to derail. They average 35 points a game, rank second in the league in points allowed and are plus-20 in sacks. Cincinnati brings balance to the offense, courtesy of the passing of Brendon Kay and a deep corps of running backs. The attack reached new heights last weekend, slapping Rutgers around for 619 yards and 52 points.

Why Houston Might Win: In consecutive weeks, the Cougars held UCF and Louisville two touchdowns below their season average. The Houston D is aggressive, improving and battle-tested. While the Cougs have been battling the American's best in recent weeks, Cincinnati hasn't faced a true quality opponent all season. The Bearcats might be a little stunned by the speed and tenacity that the Cougars bring to the field with the likes of FS Trevon Stewart and linebackers Derrick Mathews and Efrem Oliphant.

Who To Watch Out For: Testament to Houston's frenetic style of play, the team leads the league with 33 takeaways. If Cincinnati is at all careless with the ball, a Cougar will strip it and take it back the other way.

- The muscle of the Cincinnati O-line versus the speed of the Houston front seven—it's a matchup that'll go a long way toward determining a winner. Coordinator David Gibbs wants to flood the pocket with Cougars, but only eight teams have yielded fewer sacks than the Bearcats.

- No one is more interested in the health of Houston WR Deontay Greenberry than Houston QB John O'Korn. Greenberry suffered a concussion last week, and has yet to be cleared for contact.

What Will Happen: Houston has been battle-tested by its schedule. Cincinnati? Not so much. The Cougars are set to transform one of their solid efforts into a victory this weekend. They'll catch the Bearcats a little off guard with their closing speed on both sides of the ball. In one of the more entertaining, under-the-radar games of the weekend, Houston is going to stake its claim to the No. 3 position in the American.

Prediction: Houston 34 … Cincinnati 28
Line: Houston -3.5 o/u: 58
Must See Rating: (5 Tiebreaker – 1 A Medea Christmas) … 2.5
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