Technically speaking, Cincinnati has not yet sealed its fate for the AAC championship game. It would take a shocking collapse to keep the Bearcats out of the conference title showdown, but given how unconvincing Cincinnati has been over the last month, we can’t rule that out entirely.
SMU has hopes, even after falling to Houston three weeks ago. Those hopes begin, and could end, with this weekend’s journey north to Nippert Stadium.
Here are our free college football picks and predictions for SMU Mustangs at Cincinnati Bearcats on Saturday, November 20.
SMU vs Cincinnati odds
Odds via the Covers Line, an average comprised of odds from multiple sportsbooks.
While 12 is not necessarily a key number, this line flirted around it through most of the week. Cincinnati opened on Sunday as a 12.5-point favorite, but by the end of the day, it had fallen to -11.5. It would jump back over 12 on Monday, before falling to -10.5 on Tuesday. Jumping between -10.5 and -11.5 made more sense during the week, 11 a known key number, until this reached -10.0 on Friday.
The total began the week at 65.5 and toggled between that and 64.5 through the week.Use the live odds widget above to track any future line movements right up until kickoff and be sure to check out the full college football odds before placing your bets.
SMU vs Cincinnati predictions
Predictions made on 11/19/2021 at 2:50 a.m. ET.
Click on each prediction to jump to the full analysis.
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SMU vs Cincinnati game info
• Location: Nippert Stadium, Cincinnati, OH
• Date: Saturday, November 20, 2021
• Time: 3:30 p.m. ET
• TV: ESPN
SMU vs Cincinnati betting preview
Be sure to monitor the gametime conditions with our NCAA football weather info.
SMU: Danny Gray WR (Questionable), Jordan Kerley WR (Questionable), Alan Ali OL (Out), TJ McDaniel RB (Out).
Cincinnati: Cole Smith K (Questionable), Jerome Ford RB (Questionable).
Find our latest NCAA football injury reports.
Betting trend to know
Cincinnati is 0-4 ATS in its last four games, underperforming against the spread by an average of 13 points per game in that stretch. Find more NCAA betting trends for SMU vs. Cincinnati.
SMU vs Cincinnati picks and predictions
Our predictions are compiled from the analysis of the spread and total and are indications of where we are leaning for this game.
Our best bet is the play that we like the most for this game, which we would actually put some of our bankroll behind.
Until Cincinnati puts away another opponent with ease, it cannot be assumed the Bearcats are capable of it anymore. Failing to cover against lesser AAC foes like South Florida, Tulsa, Tulane and Navy inspires absolutely no confidence the Bearcats will find a way to cover against an AAC contender.
And SMU is, or at least was, an AAC contender. The Mustangs have suffered only two losses this year, one to an underrated Houston team that cost SMU the inside track at reaching the conference championship game, and then the next week at Memphis in a three-point loss that had all the earmarks of a classic letdown spot.
Past performances can influence future projections only so much, but this handicapper has no faith left in Cincinnati to do what is expected of it, even if a Playoff bid is possibly at stake.
Prediction: SMU +10 (-110)
The recent struggles from the Bearcats have not come from their defense. They have given up only 20 points per game in this stretch of doubt-inducing performances. It has been Cincinnati’s offense that can no longer find the rhythm that propelled it to back-to-back 50-point showings in mid-October.
That defense should slow down SMU enough to keep this Under the lofty number of 65. The Mustangs butter their proverbial bread through the air, letting quarterback Tanner Mordecai shine. Per cfb-graphs.com, SMU ranks No. 5 in the country in expected points added per pass play, compared to No. 86 when running the ball. Unfortunately for the Mustangs, Cincinnati’s defense ranks No. 6 against the pass in the same metrics.
A lackluster Bearcats offense combined with a still-worthwhile Cincinnati defense whose strength comes directly against SMU’s strength could turn this into a relatively low-scoring afternoon.
Prediction: Under 65 (-110)
The gutsy play would be to suggest the Mustangs money line, but rumors around Sonny Dykes’ possible departure to TCU could cloud SMU’s focus enough to jeopardize that aggressive decision.
Instead, doubling down on a sluggish game in the first half will be most prudent. Tight games (like this one should be) do not usually devolve into back-and-forth affairs until the second half, so focusing on the first half total will protect our best bet from this game possibly becoming an unexpectedly high-scoring affair if either team gets desperate.
In this month-long lackluster showing from Cincinnati, its first-half totals have averaged 26.5 points, with the high being 31. The Bearcats themselves have averaged 16.3 points in those first halves, the struggling offense taking at least 30 minutes to get moving.
With those doldrums in mind, it will take a special-teams or defensive score to send this first-half total past 33.5.
Pick: First Half Under 33.5 (-110)
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