American Athletic Conference Championship: Cincinnati vs. Memphis fearless prediction and game preview.
American Athletic Conference Championship: Cincinnati vs. Memphis Broadcast
Date: Saturday, December 7
Game Time: 3:30 ET
Live Stream: fuboTV (click to watch for free)
Venue: Liberty Bowl Memorial Stadium, Memphis, TN
Cincinnati (10-2) vs. Memphis (11-1) Game Preview
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Three Reasons Why You Should Watch The American Athletic Conference Championship
– Who’s going to the Cotton Bowl? So this is how this is going to work when it comes to which Group of Five champion ends up getting the New Year’s Six bowl slot, which this year will be the Cotton Bowl.
Louisiana and Appalachian State play for the Sun Belt Championship first on Saturday. If CFP No. 21 ASU wins, it’ll be in the hunt. If Louisiana wins, ASU is out.
Then comes the American Athletic Conference Championship, and while it’s not set in stone, Memphis will probably go to the Cotton with a win over Cincinnati to make it three straight trips to the big bowl game for the league – UCF went the last two seasons. If UC wins, that’s it, and that opens the door for – maybe – Appalachian State, and Boise State if it wins the Mountain West title game starting a half hour the AAC gets rolling.
Memphis is CFP No. 17, Boise State is No. 19. If UM squeaks by, and Boise State annihilates the Rainbow Warriors, this will get interesting. But …
Assume that Memphis gets the big bowl if it wins.
– These two put on a fun show last week. Cincinnati wasn’t quite at full strength, and it already had a spot in this game locked up, but it wanted the win to host the championship game and stay in the hunt for the Cotton Bowl. Memphis won 34-24, but there were several momentum swings, plenty of big plays, and overall, it was a good stage to set for this. Memphis did what it needed to, and now it’s here.
– These are two of the hottest head coaching prospects going. Memphis head man Mike Norvell has been rumored for several big openings including Ole Miss and Florida State, while Cincinnati’s Luke Fickell is in the mix for all of the main gigs, starting with Boston College. The winner of this will up his stock that much more.
CFN Podcast: American Athletic Conference Championship Discussion
Why Cincinnati Will Win
– It’s the cliché that it’s really hard to beat the same team twice. Double that if they play in back-to-back weeks. The Bearcats would’ve made this far closer and might have pulled it off, but they turned it over three times – they were a -2 in turnover margin – and were hit with too many explosive plays. They were playing catchup all game long, and that’s not this team’s style.
The turnovers were an aberration. UC in ninth in the nation in turnover margin thanks to a defense that comes up with a whole lot of them. Memphis was surprisingly stingy when it came to the mistakes – don’t be shocked if the mistake side of things flips.
– The running game worked. Michael Warren pounded away for 122 yards and a touchdown and the O averaged four yards per carry. Backup quarterback Ben Bryant threw two picks, but he was fine overall at keeping things moving. Starter Desmond Ridder is still questionable with a shoulder problem, but at least Bryant has seen what he’s dealing with.
– The Memphis offensive line beat the Cincinnati defensive line. Don’t expect that to happen again, at least at the level it was at last week. The Bearcats are usually much better at getting into the backfield, and UM normally has a tougher time handling the better lines. Expect more than the one sack and five tackles for loss UC came up with last time around.
Why Memphis Will Win
– Let’s flip this around. It’s the cliché that it’s really hard to beat the same team twice … well, why not? Memphis is still going to be the same team that got the job done by ten points last week when everything clicked, Cincinnati’s quarterback situation is still iffy, and the pass rush will still be fantastic. There are some things UC won’t be able to adjust for, and it starts with …
– Speed, speed, speed. Only seven teams average more yards per play than the Tigers do – Oklahoma, LSU, Alabama, Clemson, Washington State, Louisiana, and Ohio State. MU is in the prestigious 7-yards-per-play club, and that’s not about to stop now.
The Tigers are also in the top eight in yards per pass attempt, and average five yards per run. Cincinnati doesn’t have that kind of pop. But the real key should once again be …
– The Memphis pass rush will once again be a terror. Memphis can overcome sacks and negative offensive plays with a home run a whole lot easier than Cincinnati can. The Bearcats have a slew of problems with good pass rushing teams, and that was the case last week allowing five sacks and too many pressures.
What’s Going To Happen
Cincinnati will get Memphis in Round Two.
The Bearcat defensive front will have a better game.
In MU’s only loss of the season, Temple was able to hold up well enough against the run and dominated the plays behind the line. The Bearcats might not come up with three sacks and eight tackles for loss like the Owls did, but they’ll be more active and aggressive, especially against the run.
Memphis last week, Houston in a loss earlier in the year, and Ohio State were the only teams able to average five yards per pop against the UC D and come up with 190 rushing yards or more. That’s not happening twice.
The Bearcats will control the game a little bit better and overcome a few Memphis big plays with a few grinding drives in another terrific battle.
American Athletic Conference Championship: Cincinnati vs. Memphis Prediction, Line
Must See Rating: 4.5
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American Athletic Conference Championship History
2018 UCF 56, Memphis 41
2017 UCF 62, Memphis 55 2OT
2016 Temple 34, Navy 10
2015 Houston 24, Temple 13