Cincinnati doesn't lack incentive to blow teams out at the moment, as dominant showings will only help its chase to be the first Group of Five team in the CFP.
However, triple-option offenses can keep games close, so will the Midshipmen throw a wrench in the Bearcats' plans?
Find out with our free college football picks and predictions for the Cincinnati Bearcats vs. Navy Midshipmen on October 23.
Cincinnati vs Navy odds
Odds via the Covers Line, an average comprised of odds from multiple sportsbooks.
The week’s earliest numbers opened with Cincinnati favored by 25.5 points, but that jumped to 27.0 in short order. For a few hours, that already large spread climbed as high as -28.5 before settling back down at -28.0
The total opened at 53.5 points on Sunday before respect for the ball-control inherent to Navy’s triple option knocked the number down as low as 48.0 on Tuesday. It quickly bounced from that valley, landing at 49.0 later that same afternoon and remaining there.
Cincinnati vs Navy picks
Picks made on 10/21/2021 at 3:35 a.m. ET.
Click on each pick to jump to the full analysis.
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Cincinnati vs Navy game info
• Location: Navy-Marin Corps Memorial Stadium, Annapolis, MD
• Date: Saturday, October 23, 2021
• Time: 12:00 p.m. ET
• TV: ESPN2
Cincinnati vs Navy betting preview
Be sure to monitor the gametime conditions with our NCAA football weather info.
Navy: Tai Lavatai QB (Questionable), Mitchell West S (Questionable)
Find our latest NCAA football injury reports.
Betting trend to know
Cincinnati is 4-0 ATS in its last four games – with the last two of those being spreads of 30 points and 21.5 points – and 5-1 ATS this season. Find more NCAA betting trends for Cincinnati vs. Navy.
Cincinnati vs Navy predictions
Cincinnati -28.0 (-110)
Full disclosure: Yours truly caught this at -26.5 on Sunday afternoon. Even when writing this exact sentence late Thursday evening, a -27.5 is available, but it is not widely available, so the proper offering is now -28.0.
Obviously, this number has grown for a reason, and -26.5 and -27.5 are both preferable to -28.0, but that should not be considered a dealbreaker, not when the Bearcats are on a mission. They are not going to give the College Football Playoff selection committee any excuse to turn them away.
Sure, that need to blowout opponents could lend itself to a mere three-touchdown victory, but Navy would need to succeed offensively for that to occur. In that respect, the triple-option offense may work against the Midshipmen.
Once down a few scores, and they will be down a few scores within the first half, there will be little reason to even try the desperate passes that Navy sometimes breaks out in the fourth quarter of a two-possession game. It will instead be content — well, maybe not content, but perhaps resigned — to running out the clock, literally. Thus, it will not have a chance for multiple garbage-time touchdowns. A single successful garbage-time tally from the Midshipmen would eat up too much time to leave an opportunity for more.
Up until such a low-stakes moment, Cincinnati’s run defense should make Navy’s life miserable. Opponents average 3.46 yards per carry against the Bearcats and just 122.8 rushing yards per game. That defense will force enough three-and-outs to avoid the scarcity of possessions that dooms so many triple-option opponents, particularly ones looking to win in a lopsided affair.
Cincinnati team total Over 38.5 (-115)
The expectation that Cincinnati will win by at least four touchdowns is a testament to both its offense and its defense. In many ways, so is this.
Avoiding the game total of 49.0 is a reflection of a lack of faith in Navy to score even twice. If it cannot, then assuming the Bearcats will indeed crack 50 for the third straight week is a bold bet. It may not be wrong, but it would be bold.
Instead, asking that offense to near 40 makes more sense, given it has scored at least 42 points against every non-Power Five team it has played this season.
Typically, that is too much to ask against a clock-eating triple-option offense, but if the Midshipmen cannot run — and considering they averaged 3.18 yards per rush against SMU and Memphis in their last two games, it is safe to assume they will not be able to run — then that clock will go uneaten, allowing Cincinnati enough possessions to impress the committee.
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