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Cincinnati vs. Indiana Preview Article

VirginiaCavs

CTG Junior Moderator
Cincinnati vs. Indiana College Football Picks for Week 3

Cincinnati Bearcats vs. Indiana Hoosiers
Saturday, September 18 2021 at noon ET (ESPN) at Memorial Stadium in Bloomington, Indiana

Don't Overlook The Trenches


Because media talking heads find a negligible source of sensation in the trenches, the discussion tends to center around the other players.

But the trenches are important. In this game, in terms of predicting which team will cover the spread, I think that they will be decisive.

Indiana's Offensive Line

Pretty much any well-regarded Hoosier beat writer stated before the season that, heading into this season, the offensive line was Indiana's biggest question mark.

It's not too hard to see why: a lot of game footage and statistics speak against the apparent qualify of Hoosier offensive linemen.

Right tackle Matthew Bedford, for example, ranked fourth-worst last year among qualifying tackles in Power 5 conferences in pass-blocking. In seven games, he was responsible for 35 quarterback pressures and 26 quarterback hurries.

Similarly, among FBS tackles, Caleb Jones was graded as the second-worst tackle.

Overall, the Hoosiers ranked second-to-last out of 65 Power 5 teams in pass-blocking according to PFF.

If the run-blocking is supposed to be better, the Hoosiers haven't showed it yet.

In the season opener against Iowa, they generated 2.5 YPC on 31 attempts.

Against FCS Idaho, they were determined to establish the ground game as their offensive play-calling was heavily tilted towards running the ball.

Because Idaho is an FCS school, it's worrisome to see that Indiana could not even manage four YPC. They rushed for 3.6 YPC.

Cincinnati's Defensive Line

Besides considerations of sheer quality, match-up considerations are also valuable.

One specific element that bothered Indiana pass protection last year was speed rushers.

I like Cincinnati's defensive line especially because it boasts a star speed rusher in reigning All-AAC First-Teamer Myjai Sanders.

Last year, in the shortened season, Sanders amassed 10.5 tackles for loss and seven sacks.

Sanders, though, is just one of multiple studs, all of whom are proven and most of whom are also very experienced. They grace every position of the defensive line, thus not allowing opposing blockers to center on one guy in particular.

Last week, Cincinnati came out looking ahead to this Hoosier game. They clearly appeared disinterested. But the Bearcat defense shut Murray State down in a 35-0 second half. Similar patches of disinterest were manifest in the Bearcat opener, which were expected in another blowout-type game.

Compared with last year, as the stats show, the Bearcat pressure is getting home.

While the sack rate is not quite as high, this has to do less with disinterest than in the quick-hitting, short passes that opposing offenses were more interested in attempting.

Hoosier quarterback Michael Penix, though, likes to rely on his strong arm and enjoys throwing downfield. In doing so, he'll sometimes stand too long in the pocket. Even when he doesn't stand too long in the pocket, he'll be victimized by Cincinnati's plethora of pass rushers.

Bearcat Offense vs. Hoosier Defense

Cincinnati's offense is led by 2020 Offensive Player of the Year Desmond Ridder at quarterback.

Ridder is a well-established dual threat. He's dangerous both on the ground and in the air.

Unlike his Hoosier counterpart, who has looked lackluster and produced lackluster stats so far, Ridder flexes a 206.4 passer rating threw two games.

What I like about Ridder is not that he has dominated two soft opponents. But rather that he looks a lot better than Penix Jr did even against Idaho, his performances this season establish continuity with last season, and he's expanding himself as a passer.

What I mean by this last point is that his increase of 3.2 YPA shows that he is developing greater ease with his deep ball than ever before.

He'll look to feast against a Hoosier pass defense that allowed FCS Idaho's passing game to produce some worrisome numbers after All-Big Team first-teamer safety Jamar Johnson departed from Indiana during the offseason.

Best Bet: Bearcats -3.5 at -110 with BetOnline
 

KJ

KJ is my name, naps are my game.
Cincy has an off week before its Super Bowl in South Bend on Oct 2. But it's other P-5 opportunity is this weekend. Can't imagine them not putting forth a good effort.

Is Penix still battling last year's injury?
Get the feeling Cincy are all about playoffs this year and I simply can't make a case that they give a rip about Notre Dame. They are head and shoulders better and not like it's some rivalry. Will be a large wager for me.
 

Frank Costanza

Well-Known Member
Get the feeling Cincy are all about playoffs this year and I simply can't make a case that they give a rip about Notre Dame.

Not a rivalry. But playing the gold helmets, one of / the most storied programs in history, with Jesus waiving pom poms, in South Bend and on national television. The ultimate chance to make a statement this season in a run to the playoffs and they won't have been pointing to this game for a long time?
 

KJ

KJ is my name, naps are my game.
Not a rivalry. But playing the gold helmets, one of / the most storied programs in history, with Jesus waiving pom poms, in South Bend and on national television. The ultimate chance to make a statement this season in a run to the playoffs and they won't have been pointing to this game for a long time?
It's possible and while I try to understand motive in CFB, I just don't see this as the big one

Think their sights are set on UCF and Memphis really...of course gold helmets and all but if they play at 75% I think they handle ND....won't find one ND fan who thinks this is a big game which speaks for itself
 

Trash TD

Active Member
Great analysis as per usual - much appreciated, Cavs.

I think Cincy covers easily for what you said above as well as a "chip on their shoulder" mentality from the close Georgia loss last year in the bowl game and being in a non-Power 5 conference which yields little respect in the rankings and with the majority of pundits. This game plus the ND one are supposed to be the marquee non-conference games for the Bearcats. While the luster has dimmed for the Indiana matchup given the Hoosiers at the hands of Iowa, I still think Cincy has something to prove despite this not being a pair of top 15/20 teams facing off. Cincy needs to run the table to have any shot at CFP consideration and their power 5 wins need to be huge, arguably blowouts to bolster their resume. I think we see the same level of effort (very high) from Cincy as we did in their bowl game v Georgia to close the 2020 campaign.
 

2daBank

VC's Valentine
Great analysis as per usual - much appreciated, Cavs.

I think Cincy covers easily for what you said above as well as a "chip on their shoulder" mentality from the close Georgia loss last year in the bowl game and being in a non-Power 5 conference which yields little respect in the rankings and with the majority of pundits. This game plus the ND one are supposed to be the marquee non-conference games for the Bearcats. While the luster has dimmed for the Indiana matchup given the Hoosiers at the hands of Iowa, I still think Cincy has something to prove despite this not being a pair of top 15/20 teams facing off. Cincy needs to run the table to have any shot at CFP consideration and their power 5 wins need to be huge, arguably blowouts to bolster their resume. I think we see the same level of effort (very high) from Cincy as we did in their bowl game v Georgia to close the 2020 campaign.

this season really starting to set up for them to make the playoff.
 

Frank Costanza

Well-Known Member
I really want to play Cincy but this line stinks so much. I would fear for Penix's safety given his o-line and what Cincy can bring with its defensive front. Penix was once a dual threat but he's, what, 8 months removed from ACL surgery?
 

VirginiaCavs

CTG Junior Moderator
I really want to play Cincy but this line stinks so much. I would fear for Penix's safety given his o-line and what Cincy can bring with its defensive front. Penix was once a dual threat but he's, what, 8 months removed from ACL surgery?
I‘m just thinking of Indiana‘s historic success last season and thinking they‘re still just being overvalued as a result…I hope that‘s all it is
 

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