KICKOFF: 11:30 a.m.
TV: CBS Sports Network; Armed Forces Network
ANNOUNCERS: Dave Ryan (play-by-play), Corey Chavous (color analyst), Melanie Collins (sideline)
RADIO: UConn IMG Radio Network (WTIC 1080 AM, WILI 1400 AM, WAVZ 1300 AM, WGCH 1490 AM), SIRIUS 134, XM 201, XM 961 (Internet), TuneIn Radio app
ANNOUNCERS: Joe D'Ambrosio (play-by-play), Wayne Norman (color analyst), Ken Sweitzer (sideline)
POINT SPREAD: Cincinnati -3.0
SERIES HISTORY: Saturday marks the 13th time these two teams have met on the gridiron. The Bearcats hold a 10-2 advantage and are 3-0 against UConn in American Athletic Conference action. In the Big East, the Huskies went 2-6 against Cincinnati. UConn lost 37-13 to the Bearcats last season at Nippert Stadium.
While the last five UConn-Cincinnati games have been comfortable wins for the Bearcats, both the oddsmakers and the computer nerds are giving the Huskies more of a chance this year. Football Study Hall’s S&P+ has Cincinnati at a 54.1% chance to win on the road with a projected margin of 1.8 points while F/+ has it even closer, with a 0.9 point margin.
Cincinnati is ranked as the 75th-best team in the country while UConn is 90th, moving down from being No. 80 to start the season.
Fun With Numbers
24.5% - Transitioning from the projections section, this is Football Study Hall’s odds of UConn becoming bowl eligible in 2016, down from 37.1% last week. This underscores the need for a win Saturday, given the trip to South Florida coming up before what will be tough games against UCF, ECU and Temple after that.
97 - The highest ranking in S&P+ Five Factors, the components of the overall rankings, of the UConn offense, currently rated 99th in the country overall.
0.7%, 2.6% - The target rate (passing targets divided by total attempts) for wide receiver Tyraiq Beals and tight end Tommy Myers, respectively. Unacceptable.
47 - Tackles for Obi Melifonwu, 11 ahead of linebacker Junior Joseph for tops on the team. Vontae Diggs is third on the team with 33. It is not good to have a member of the secondary as the team’s leading tackler, by far.
2 - Turnovers forced by the Husky defense so far this season. Right now they have a -4 turnover margin.
Cincinnati Secondary vs. UConn “Passing Attack”
Once again a beleaguered secondary comes to the Rent and UConn desperately needs to take advantage of it. For all the in UConn’s offensive numbers, the passing game grades out quite well, confirming our observations that this offense is at its best spreading the field with the quick-pass attack.
UConn Secondary vs. Cincinnati’s Three-Headed Quarterback
Diaco’s defense isn’t necessarily sure which of Cincinnati’s three quarterbacks to prepare for, but with the Husky secondary prone to giving up big plays. Whoever it is, UConn needs to do a better job of preventing big plays through the air.
UConn Coaching Staff vs. Self
This was in here last week, and though it was against Houston, a tough team to beat no matter what, the coaches still failed to put the offense in the best position to win. Punting on 4th and short from Houston’s 38 with the game still close is super lame.
UConn offensive line vs. Cincinnati front seven
The O-line has not played very well as of late, and if the coaching staff continues to insist on being manly men and establishing the run this is a battle that UConn will need to win otherwise we’ll see the ever-so-frustrating sequence which is becoming way too familiar: plodding run-first offense for 1+ quarter, fall behind, open it up for the middle of the game and get back into it, end the game in disappointing fashion after reverting to the old strategy.
At first I was feeling like this would be a big loss, as we have come to expect when these two teams meet on the gridiron, but after further review I think UConn has a pretty good chance here to pull off the “upset.”
That said, UConn is clearly in the middle of an identity crisis offensively, and the defense has struggled as well. I don’t fully buy that the main reason is because of offensive ineptitude. The failure to limit big plays defensively throws a huge wrench into the bend-but-don’t-break defensive philosophy. I feel that even though Cincinnati has been struggling, the Bearcats will still get the best of UConn here, 24-21.