The Daily Sweat: No. 5 Cincinnati needs to cover a big number vs. South Florida

·5-min read

How badly does Cincinnati need style points?

The 9-0 Bearcats moved up to No. 5 in the College Football Playoff rankings on Tuesday after Michigan State lost to Purdue. As of now, Cincinnati is just one spot outside of the provisional playoff field. Though it’s unlikely to get there on its own.

Instead, Cincinnati is going to probably need some help. How much help? We’re not sure. The Bearcats have to keep winning and a team or two above them has to lose. The basic equation seems pretty straightforward.

What also should be straightforward is a Cincinnati win on Friday night (6 p.m. ET, ESPN2). The Bearcats are favored by 23.5 points against a moribund South Florida squad. USF is 2-7 on the season and has won just one game against an FBS opponent since former Clemson assistant coach Jeff Scott was hired ahead of the 2020 season.

The adage good teams win and great teams cover especially applies to Cincinnati on Friday. After sneaking away with a 28-20 win over Tulsa and beating Navy by seven on Oct. 23, the Bearcats need to win big the rest of the way. Especially without any ranked teams on the schedule.

The playoff committee has seemed down on the AAC as a whole this season. Neither SMU nor Houston has been in the top 25 in either edition of the rankings, while a 6-2 Minnesota team with a loss to Bowling Green debuted at No. 20 and two Mountain West teams were in the first top 25.

Cincinnati plays 7-2 SMU next week before finishing with an East Carolina team that’s currently above .500. Then it’s a likely matchup with 8-1 Houston for the AAC title. South Florida is the only sub-.500 team left on the schedule. Cincinnati should win easily. And don’t be surprised if the Bearcats try to score as much as possible on Friday night.

The other college football game on Friday night is a Mountain West affair between Wyoming and Boise State (9 p.m. ET, FS1). The Broncos are having a down year at 5-4 and are 14-point favorites over a Wyoming team that’s also 5-4. Both teams have had confusing seasons. Wyoming was 4-0 before losing its first four MWC games. The Cowboys broke their losing streak last week against Colorado State.

Boise State hasn’t lost consecutive games all season and just won back-to-back games for the first time all year. After beating Colorado State in Week 10, the Broncos had their best win of the season a week ago with a 40-14 victory at Fresno State.

The Broncos should win this game but 14 is a lot of points to give against a decent Wyoming team playing at home. Take the Cowboys and the points.

Can the Warriors continue their hot start?

Golden State looks to move to 11-1 with a win over the Chicago Bulls on Friday night. The Warriors are 5.5-point favorites over the Bulls and the total is 221.5. The Warriors’ schedule has been pretty easy so far, but Golden State has graded out as a team that’s as good as its record indicates. The Bulls, meanwhile, have been fantastic so far this season too — though they’ll reportedly be without Nikola Vucevic because of COVID-19 protocols.

We like the over to hit in this one.

Elsewhere in the NBA, the scuffling Trail Blazers are 6.5-point favorites at the Rockets, the Bucks are 2.5-point favorites at the Celtics and the Nets are 7.5-point favorites at the Pelicans. There are 11 NBA games to bet on Friday night — plenty of options to find some action.

Lots of big college basketball lines ... and Villanova vs. UCLA

There are over 50 college basketball games on Friday night and dozens of them have spreads of 10 or more points. It’s hard to find a game that’s got a close line, though there's a marquee game if you're willing to stay up late.

Villanova travels to UCLA (11:30 p.m. ET, ESPN2) in a battle of top-five teams. The Bruins are favored by 3.5 points and we're inclined to take Villanova on the moneyline. 

The closest matchup may be Oregon State’s trip to Iowa State. The Cyclones are getting 1.5 points at home in their first season with coach T.J. Otzelberger.

Yale is a 1.5-point favorite at home against UMass, and Louisiana is a 1.5-point favorite against Southern Miss. BYU is giving 2.5 points to San Diego State and Pepperdine is giving 3.5 points to Idaho State.

Who cashed tickets Thursday?

Dolphins bettors were thrilled with what happened in Miami. The Dolphins improved to 3-7 with a 22-10 over the Baltimore Ravens. The win tightens the AFC North division race even more.

If you waited a while to get Pitt against North Carolina you were happy too. The Panthers closed as 6.5-point favorites against the Tar Heels and won 30-23 in overtime. Pitt was up 17-0 in the first half and then 23-7 at halftime before North Carolina scored 16 points in the second half to force the extra period.

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