Desmond Ridder running with football

Cincinnati’s Desmond Ridder plays against Miami of Ohio during an NCAA college football game Saturday, Sept. 4, 2021, in Columbus, Ohio. (AP Photo/Jay LaPrete)

  • The 8th-ranked Cincinnati Bearcats take on the Indiana Hoosiers Saturday, Sept. 18
  • The Bearcats have scored 40+ points in each of their first two blowout wins this year
  • Read below for odds, analysis and a betting prediction

Just two weeks into the season, and there’s a path for the 8th-ranked Cincinnati Bearcats to contend for a College Football Playoff berth.

The Indiana Hoosiers could lay waste to those plans as early as Week 3, as the two teams clash in Bloomington Saturday afternoon (September 18).

Kickoff from Memorial Stadium goes at 12pm ET, and the game can be watched live on ESPN.

After covering some massive spreads in a pair of blowout wins to open the year, the Bearcats are just 3.5-point road favorites in this one.

Cincinnati vs Indiana Odds

Team Moneyline Spread Total
Cincinnati Bearcats -170 -3.5 (-105) O 50.5 (-105)
Indiana Hoosiers +150 +3.5(-115) U 50.5 (-115)

Odds as of  Sept. 13th at DraftKings

It should be a balmy 86 degrees and mostly sunny in the Hoosier state. Let’s break down this matchup and offer our best betting advice.

Bearcats Cruising to Start Year

Credit Cincinnati for smacking around their lightly regarded opponents in convincing fashion.

They opened by hammering Miami of Ohio 49-14, then followed that up with a 42-7 thrashing of the Murray State Racers.

Heisman candidate Desmond Ridder has led the way. He went 20-for-25 for 295 yards and four touchdowns with one interception against the Redhawks. The projected first-round NFL Draft pick followed that up by throwing for two more scores and 243 yards against the Racers.

They’ve been able to get good production on the ground from Jerome Ford. The junior has cracked 100 yards rushing in both contests, and is averaging 7.8 yards a tote to go along with four rushing TDs on the year.

Cincinnati enters the meatier part of their schedule starting Saturday. Indiana is no easy out, and they follow that up with a visit to Notre Dame — the only team currently on their schedule that is ranked. Two weeks after, they’ll have to contend with UCF. Escape unscathed, and the Bearcats could be en route to a special kind of season.

Which Hoosiers’ Team Are They?

Indiana couldn’t possibly have looked worse to open the season, when they got smoked by then 18th-ranked Iowa 34-6. That tumbled the Hoosiers from 17th to out of the top 25 altogether.

To their credit, they bounced back in Week 2, laying a beating on Idaho 56-14. Pummeled by a good team and dismantling a bad one, it’s fair to say Indiana lurks somewhere in the middle, and we’ll get a better idea as they host the Bearcats.

You’ll expect them to try to establish the run: the Hoosiers cranked out 50 carries for 179 yards to run all over the Vandals, paced by Stephen Carr, who piled up 118 yards on 22 carries and a touchdown.

One facet of the game where they may hold an edge is on special teams. IU had two blocked punts against Idaho, one leading directly to a Javon Swinton scoop-and-score, while DJ Matthews took a punt 81 yards to the house.

Cincinnati will likely do their best to force Indiana to show they can throw the football. It hasn’t been a banner start to the year for Michael Penix Jr. The junior pivot  was out of sorts in the loss to Iowa, going 14-for-31 for 156 yards and three interceptions. He didn’t need to do much at home against Idaho, and gave way to backup Jack Tuttle after completing 11-for-16 for 68 yards and two scores in the blowout win.

What’s the Best Bet?

We’re going to find out just how strong the Bearcats’ early-season defensive effort translates in this one. They enter the game ranked 18th in total defense in the NCAA, giving up just 3.74 yards per play (10th) and three total touchdowns. Even with the level-up in competition, expect them to stack the box to stop the run and see if Penix Jr can beat them throwing the ball.

Expect Ridder and Ford to continue to make the key plays for Cincinnati on offense. I don’t know if they crack the 40-point plateau a third week in a row, but they should do enough to stay in the mix to become the first non Power-5 team to make the College Football Playoff.

Pick: Cincinnati -3.5 (-115)

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Eric Rosales

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