Staff Picks; Bearcats and Mustangs

Justin Ford-USA TODAY Sports

Everyone is on the Bearcats bandwagon for the day, no one is particularly happy about it. Alot of nervous expressions throughout Bearcat land.

RepublicOfCinicnnati: Our defense will be tested, but Kaufman's schemes will prevail. Gilbert is the best QB that we've seen year to date, but he won't be able to make completions on his back.

The offense continues to improve, with Luallen playing a more significant role, giving the team the one-two punch that they expected from Kay & Munchie.

Bearcats put away the last team that they're "supposed to beat" and head into the gauntlet for a meaningful bowl game.

Bearcats - 28

Ponies - 20

Matt DuMont: Is everyone else as worried about this game as I am? Thinking back over the last few years, I don't think any of these players have defended an air raid offense. Where this really hurts UC is in the linebacker core. SMU is going to use 4 or 5 wide receiver sets on each play, meaning one of the Bearcats linebackers won't be in on every play. The play of Blair, Luc and Temple has been a huge key to the defense so far, this is worrisome to me.

The good news is that SMU's defense is getting shredded at an incredible rate. They're giving up 44 points a game, including surrendering 49 to Temple in their last game.

I'm going to optimistically pick the Bearcats 44-41, but I really think it could go either way.

Jeff Gentil: This team is such an enigma.  They look awful on the road no matter who the opponent.  But when they play in Nippert they are completely different and I think that holds true this weekend.  Brendon Kay has had a couple extra days to get healthy and he'll need to be healthy to sling it around 50 times Saturday.  Bearcats hold off SMU in a highly entertaining game (maybe not as entertaining as the Rutgers-SMU awesomeness) by a 38-31 score

bearcatlair: UC 42, SMU 28. Pretty good offenses without much in the back 7 defensively but Nippert Stadium really is a home field advantage whether it is full or not.

Justin Post: This game absolutely terrifies me. The Bearcats have faced only one offense ranked in the top 70 this year (Illinois). SMU has a top 20 offense. While it's true our beloved Bearcats are a different team at Nippert, I just don't have a good feeling about this one. If SMU pounded the ball on the ground all day, I'd feel a lot better. They don't. Hate to be the Debbie Downer of the group, but I'm going to say the 'Cats lose 38-33.

Matt Opper: It is almost always a gross oversimplification to say that a game comes down to a single factor. The Bearcats can not afford to turn the ball over at all against the Mustangs. SMU has managed to play pretty competitive football this year despite routinely getting hammered in turnover margin. For the year they are -10, and in their three wins they are -6. Ending up on the wrong side of the turnover margin could give a moribund Mustangs defense a bit of confidence, and their offense a short field to work with. I think the Bearcats keep it clean on offense and Brendon Kay outguns Garrett Gilbert and the Bearcats win a fun game 45-35.

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