Cincinnati vs. Notre Dame NCAAF Week 5: Huge for College Football Playoff

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Desmond Ridder #9 of the Cincinnati Bearcats. Dylan Buell/Getty Images/AFP

Maybe the most important college football game on Saturday regarding the College Football Playoff is No. 7 Cincinnati visiting No. 9 Notre Dame.

Which way to lean at BMR’s top-rated sportsbooks

Cincinnati Bearcats vs. Notre Dame Fighting Irish

Saturday, October 02, 2021 – 02:30 PM EDT at Notre Dame Stadium 

No Group of 5 school has made the College Football Playoff yet and it may never happen while it’s only a four-team field. However, if it’s going to this year then No. 7 Cincinnati has to win at No. 9 Notre Dame on Saturday in one of the marquee matchups. NBC has the 2:30 p.m. ET telecast. 

On the college football odds at BMR’s top-rated sportsbooks, Cincinnati is a +650 long shot to make the playoff and -1200 to miss. It definitely could happen, though, as the Bearcats will be heavily favored in every game the rest of the way – not a single ranked school remains on the schedule. Problem is, that will also hurt UC’s strength of schedule.  

Even though South Bend and Cincinnati are only about 245 miles apart, these schools have met just once: In 1900, the Irish won 58-0. Don’t think there are any against-the-spread numbers from back then. 

Biggest Cincinnati Game in Years 

At No. 7, Cincinnati (3-0) is easily the highest-ranked Group of 5 school; BYU is next at No. 13. Of course, those two, Houston and Central Florida are bound for the Big 12 in a few years. 

The Bearcats have the advantage of coming off a bye week. Their schedule has been quite weak with double-digit wins over Miami of Ohio, Murray State, and Indiana, although the Hoosiers aren’t terrible. UC had to rally from a 14-0 deficit in that one.  

Cincinnati coach Luke Fickell already is a rising star but that would reach another level if he beats the Irish in South Bend – Fickell has been linked to the USC job. His calling card is defense and UC has forced nine turnovers in three games.  

“This is what you’ve always dreamed of,” Fickell said. “This is what you want. This is what these guys have worked for. Not just to play Notre Dame because that’s always a big deal. But to have the matchup where you’re legitimately two top-10 teams that a lot of people are excited about watching.” 

Fickell and first-year Notre Dame defensive coordinator Marcus Freeman have been friends for years. Freeman was the DC at Cincinnati from 2017-20. 

Cincinnati has one of the nation’s top quarterbacks in Desmond Ridder, who is a +1600 third-favorite on the BetOnline NCAAF futures odds to win the Heisman Trophy. Pretty sure he won’t win that but could at least be a finalist and get a trip to New York.

Ridder is completing 65.1 percent of his passes for 748 yards, seven TDs, and two picks. He’s also second on the team with 72 yards rushing and two scores. Jerome Ford has carried 50 times for 300 yards and six TDs. He has scored at least one TD in five straight games dating to last year.  

The Bearcats are 2-5 ATS on the NCAAF odds in their past seven as road favorites. 

QB Coan Should Play for Irish 

The Irish (4-0) come off their best result of the season, a 41-13 rout of then-No. 18 Wisconsin last Saturday in Chicago. Although, that score is a bit misleading. The Irish totaled just 248 yards and rushed for only nine yards on 32 carries against the nation’s No. 1 rush defense. However, Notre Dame forced five Wisconsin turnovers

QB Jack Coan left with a left leg injury in the third quarter with the game tied at 10. Notre Dame fell behind 13-10 before scoring 31 unanswered points in the final 14:01. Linebackers Jack Kiser and Drew White both returned interceptions for touchdowns late in the fourth quarter. It was the first time since 2002 against Stanford that the Irish returned two picks for scores.  

Notre Dame tallied an offensive, defensive and special teams touchdown in the same game for the first time since 2005 against Tennessee. The Irish were just the second FBS team in the past 15 years to erase a deficit in the final quarter to win by 28 points or more. 

Coan is listed as the starting QB this week off that injury. Drew Pyne, who has attempted eleven passes in his NCAA career, is listed as the No. 2. He was 6-for-8 for 81 yards and a TD in relief of Coan against the Badgers. 

Irish coach Brian Kelly, who was the head coach at Cincinnati from 2007-09, is now the winningest coach in Notre Dame history with 106 victories, breaking a tie with Knute Rockne in the Wisconsin win. Under Kelly, the Irish have started 4-0 to start the season six times during his 12 years at Notre Dame. The Irish have won 24 straight games when they have scored 40 or more points. Notre Dame is 38-2 all-time under Kelly when it scores at least 40 points

Like Cincinnati, Notre Dame thrives at forcing turnovers as it has created 12, tied for second-most nationally. The team’s nine interceptions lead the country.  

The Irish have won 26 straight home games, two shy of the school record set from 1942-50. Clemson is the only Power 5 program that boasts a home streak of more than 26 games.

I’m frankly shocked that ND is getting points. We’ll take them assuming Coan plays.  

NCAAF pick: Notre Dame at +2.5 (-110) with BetOnline (visit our BetOnline Review)

Notre Dame +2.5 (-110)
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