Thursday Night Football

Thursday Night Football

South Florida Bulls vs. Cincinnati Bearcats

Oddsmakers currently have the Bulls listed as 2½-point favorites versus the Bearcats, while the game's total is sitting at 51.

South Florida's Matt Grothe threw for 344 yards and two touchdowns but it was not enough as they were upset 24-20 by Louisville in Week 9.

The Bulls failed to cover the 5.5-point spread, while the final score played UNDER the day's posted total of 52.

Tony Pike threw for 136 yards, one TD and one interception as Cincinnati lost 40-16 to Connecticut in Week 9.

The Bearcats failed to cover the 3-point spread, while the final score played OVER the day's posted total of 42.5.

Team records:
South Florida: 6-2 SU, 2-5 ATS
Cincinnati: 5-2 SU, 2-4 ATS

South Florida most recently:
When playing in October are 5-5
When playing on turf are 4-6
After outgaining opponent are 7-3
When playing within the conference are 5-5

Cincinnati most recently:
When playing in October are 6-4
When playing on turf are 8-2
After being outgained are 7-3
When playing within the conference are 6-4

A few trends to consider:
South Florida is 5-1 SU in its last 6 games on the road
South Florida is 6-2 SU in its last 8 games
South Florida is 3-6 ATS in its last 9 games on the road
South Florida is 2-5 ATS in its last 7 games
Cincinnati is 14-2 SU in its last 16 games at home
Cincinnati is 4-1 ATS in its last 5 games when playing South Florida
Cincinnati is 4-1 SU in its last 5 games
Cincinnati is 2-4 ATS in its last 6 games

Next up:
South Florida home to Rutgers, Saturday, November 15
Cincinnati at West Virginia, Saturday, November 8

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Re: Thursday Night Football

What bettors need to know: USF at Cincinnati
By CHRIS MARAKOVITZ

Head to Head

USF and Cincinnati have met five times with the Bearcats holding a 3-2 advantage. The Bulls have yet to win in two tries at Cincy’s Nippert Stadium.

Last year at Tampa, USF outgained Cincy but committed eight turnovers and gave up 31 first quarter points while losing outright 38-33 as a 5-point favorite.

The home team has won four of the five meetings by an average margin of 13 points.

Title Hopes on the Line

Consider this an elimination game for the Big East title. Both teams are still in the race but they each need to win out in order to win the league.

Banged Up Bulls

The Bulls are licking their wounds in more ways than one coming off last week’s 24-20 loss to Louisville.

The team could be without four starters on Thursday including LB Bruce Monpremier, RB Mike Ford, TE Trent Pupello and RT Marc Dial.

Dial, who is listed as doubtful, could be the biggest loss considering that QB Matt Grothe was sacked five times last week and four times in the team’s other loss to Pitt. If Dial cannot go freshman Jeremiah Warren will likely make his first career start.

QB Situation Up in the Air for Cincy

Cincinnati will make a game-time decision between first-string junior Tony Pike and redshirt frosh Chazz Anderson. Pike returned to action last week but left early after experiencing numbness in his injured non-throwing arm.

Cincinnati coach Brian Kelly claims that he has developed separate game plans (in four days no less) for each quarterback.

If Pike is able to play, the Bearcats will have the full arsenal of their spread offense at their disposal and may look to open things up. If Anderson goes, the game plan will likely consist of a greater emphasis on the running game complemented by a controlled passing attack.

Grothe Leads Strong Attack

USF is ranked first in the Big East in scoring and total offense. The unit is led by stellar QB Matt Grothe. Grothe has thrown for 14 TD’s thus far this year.

Last Weak

While the Bulls are surely disappointed with their loss to Louisville last week, the Bearcats are coming off a truly abysmal performance, losing 40-16 to UConn as a 3-point favorite.

On offense the team committed six turnovers and was 0 for 14 on third down conversions. On defense, the Bearcats completely fell apart in the fourth quarter in the process of allowing 153 yards on the ground and 349 in total.

That’s Mr. Selvie to You

The best player on the field will be USF DE George Selvie. Although Selvie’s numbers have been reduced this year due to constant double teams, he produced 14.5 sacks last season and led the nation with 31.5 tackles for a loss.

Selvie, a likely first round NFL pick, had two sacks last week for the first time this season. This could be bad news for a struggling Cincy offense with uncertainty at QB.

Turnovers Bouncing the Other Way for Bearcats

Is turnover margin a reflection of skill or just good fortune? If you believe the latter then things are starting to even out for Cincy. After relying heavily on their nation-leading 42 takeaways and a +16 TO margin last season, the Cats are -6 this year.

USF No Stranger to the Whistle

USF has consistently been among the nation leaders in penalties throughout this decade. The Bulls are currently ranked fourth overall coming off their 14 penalties last week against Louisville.

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Re: Thursday Night Football

(24) South Florida (6-2, 2-5 ATS) at Cincinnati (5-2, 2-4 ATS)

Two Big East teams coming off losses hook up when South Florida travels to Nippert Stadium for a nationally televised meeting with Cincinnati.

The Bulls dropped 10 spots in the rankings after their 24-20 loss to Louisville as a four-point road chalk Saturday, and they’ve now alternated ATS wins and losses over the past five games. QB Matt Grothe (30 of 40, 344 yards) put South Florida up 20-17 early in the fourth quarter with his second TD pass, but Louisville responded with the winning TD two minutes later. Grothe threw two INTs, including one late in the game that allowed the Cardinals to run out the clock.

The Bearcats got pounded 40-16 at Connecticut laying three points Saturday, snapping a four-game SU winning streak and giving Cincy its second straight ATS defeat. Cincinnati had an eye-popping six turnovers – losing three of six fumbles and tossing three INTs – with the last of those picks going the other way for a touchdown. The Bearcats rushed for just 30 yards, were outgained 349-289 overall and lost the time-of-possession battle by more than eight minutes.

Cincinnati coach Brian Kelly, who has been dealing with injuries at quarterback all season, is uncertain who will go under center tonight. Junior Tony Pike, who took over for incumbent starter Dustin Grutza (season-ending leg injury) in September, returned from a broken left forearm last week against UConn and went 10-for-27 for 136 yards, one TD and one INT, but had to leave the game after a half because of the injury. If Pike is unable to play tonight, redshirt freshman Chazz Anderson (61.3 percent completion rate, 520 yards, 2 TDs, 3 INTs) will likely make his third start of the season for an offense that puts up 27 points and 384 total yards per game.

South Florida has no issues at quarterback, as Grothe has been solid most of the season, completing 66.8 percent of his throws for 1,896 yards with 14 TDs and five INTs. He leads an offense that averages 33.5 points and 425.8 total yards per game.

Cincinnati is on a 4-0 ATS run (3-1 SU) in this rivalry, winning 38-33 last year at South Florida as a 4½-point pup as the Bulls committed an astounding eight turnovers and gave up all 38 points in the first half. Two years ago, the Bearcats claimed a 23-6 home win as a one-point favorite.

The Bulls are in a 2-6 ATS slide overall and are burdened by additional pointspread skids of 0-8 against winning teams and 3-6 as a road chalk. The Bearcats are 2-5 ATS in their last seven games, but the pointspread trends turn positive from there, including 10-3 at home, 6-1-1 after a SU loss, 4-1 on Thursday and 10-4-1 against winning teams.

The over for South Florida is on runs of 11-4-1 overall and 7-3 against winning teams, but the under for Cincinnati is on stretches of 5-1 at home, 6-0 on Thursday and 9-1-1 in October.

ATS ADVANTAGE: CINCINNATI

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Re: Thursday Night Football

South Florida at Cincinnati
By Christian Alexander

#24 South Florida (6-2, 1-2 Big East) at Cincinnati (5-2, 1-1 Big East)
Nippert Stadium (FieldTurf)
Sports.com Line: South Florida -2.5, O/U 51

I have to admit, when Auburn went up 17-3 in the second quarter last Thursday night, I was more than a little worried that my West Virginia (-2.5) play was in jeopardy of being a loser. However, the Mountaineers got things on track offensively in the second half and scored 31 unanswered points to coast to a 34-17 win.

That ‘W’ brings my Thursday night to 7-3 on the year, a very tidy 70% winning clip.

Of course, you never want to look at your stats too long when you’re on a winning streak so let’s just move on and discuss the game this Thursday night.
   
I’m entering this week with a little payback on my mind. That’s because South Florida is responsible for one of my three Thursday night losses this season when they laid an egg at home against Pittsburgh on October 2nd, losing outright as almost two touchdown favorites.

I backed the South Florida that night so I figure coach Jim Leavitt and the Bulls owe me. And I’ll be happy to collect this Thursday night when South Florida hits the road and visits Cincinnati.

But that of course raises the obvious question. Which side to take?

Well, if you believe that history repeats itself, you certainly might take a long look at fading South Florida the rest of the season. Why? Just look at 2007.

The Bulls were one of the media darlings of college football at the beginning of the 2007 season, making it into the top 10 of the AP poll for three weeks and rising as high as #2.

However, ending the season with three straight losses and then a Sun Bowl appearance that resulted in a 35-point blowout to Oregon left the Bulls unranked to end the year.

Given that up and down 2007 season, the voters have been a little more skeptical of South Florida this year and given that its somewhat surprising to see them still ranked considering they have lost two of their last three and sit near the bottom of the Big East standings.

Then again, the talent is obviously still there and the conference stats still look pretty favorable for South Florida.

Behind the dynamic QB Matt Grothe, who leads the league in passing yardage, passing efficiency, total offense and passing touchdowns, South Florida boasts the number one offense in the Big East. The Bulls can burn teams in multiple ways, averaging 171 yards rushing per game with the mobile Grothe and RB Mike Ford (ankle) as well as 254 yards per game through the air with targets Taurus Johnson and Jessie Hester.

While he doesn’t get nearly the publicity that Grothe garners, the Bulls also have a very impressive team leader on the defensive side of the ball in All-American defense end George Selvie. Selvie, who was the 2007 Big East defensive player of the year, has missed a couple game this season due to an ankle injury but he is 100% now and is once again wreaking havoc on opposing offenses. Behind Selvie and crew, South Florida has the number one ranked defense in the Big East.

It’s quite an offensive and defensive package but as I said, so far it hasn’t translated to much success in the Big East as South Florida sits at 1-2, just one spot above the winless Syracuse Orangemen in the cellar.

To get by the Bulls Thursday night, Bearcats coach Brian Kelly knows he must get consistent play from his quarterback position, something that didn’t happen last weekend in a 40-16 loss to Connecticut. Cincinnati had a four-game winning streak snapped against the Huskies and left the game with big questions around the QB position.

Tony Pike was able to make his first start last weekend since breaking his left (non-throwing) arm against Akron on Sept. 27. Unfortunately for the Bearcats, Pike was only able to play in the first half last week after he experienced numbness in his left hand and had trouble gripping the ball during halftime.

Kelly has said that Pike will be a gametime decision against South Florida and has prepared several options in case the junior signal caller can’t play. If Pike can’t go, redshirt freshman Chazz Anderson will likely get the nod although Zach Collaros and even Demetrius Jones got more reps in practice this week.

Whoever gets the call will have to end an ugly streak as the Cincinnati offense has 25 straight failed third-down conversions.

Cincinnati is 3-0 at home this season and has won three of five against the Bulls, including the last two and both meetings at Nippert Stadium.

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Re: Thursday Night Football

South Florida at Cincinnati Preview

Line: South Florida by 2 1/2.
   
Series Record: Cincinnati leads 3-2.

Last Meeting: 2007, Cincinnati 38, South Florida 33.

South Florida needs a win to keep the Big East represented in the Top 25. The Bulls are the conference's only ranked team, coming off a 24-20 loss at Louisville.

With Cincinnati unsure of its quarterback, South Florida's defense has a chance to decide the game. The Bulls have allowed the fewest yards overall and fewest yards passing in the conference. Cincinnati has failed to convert a third down (0-for-25) in its last two games.

SOUTH FLORIDA: DE George Selvie is healthy and disruptive again. He missed a game and a half with an ankle injury, but had a pair of sacks and four tackles in the backfield at Louisville. The All-American had 14.5 sacks last season.

CINCINNATI: QBs Tony Pike and Chazz Anderson. Pike is playing with a plate in his left (non-passing) forearm, helping a broken bone heal. He had to leave at halftime of a 40-16 loss at Connecticut on Saturday because his left hand was going numb. Anderson struggled in the second half.

Cincinnati has won the last two games in their series. ... South Florida QB Matt Grothe has thrown for at least two touchdowns in each of his last three games. He has 14 touchdown passes, one shy of his career high from 2006. ... South Florida has held opponents to three-and-out on 45 percent of their drives. Cincinnati went 0-for-11 on third downs against Rutgers and 0-for-14 against UConn.

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Re: Thursday Night Football

Tips and Trends

#24 South Florida at Cincinnati

South Florida (-2.5, O/U 51): The Bulls offensive line needs to play better against an aggressive Cincinnati defense. With RT Marc Dile leaving last week’s game with a foot injury, QB Matt Grothe was sacked a season-high five times. The Bulls also were held to a school-record low eight yards rushing. If Dile is unable to go this week, freshman Jeremiah Warren could make his first career start. RB Mike Ford is hobbled with an ankle injury and his availability for this game is in serious doubt. DE George Selvie has returned to last year’s form, but the rest of the defense hasn’t done much in recent games. The Bulls have forced only 10 turnovers in eight games.

South Florida is 1-4 ATS in its last 5 games in October.
South Florida is 2-6 ATS in its last 8 games overall.

Key Injuries - RB Mike Ford (ankle) is doubtful.
OT Mike Dile (foot) is probable.

PROJECTED SCORE: 27

Cincinnati: The Bearcats will have two offensive game plans ready to go for this week’s game against South Florida. The spread offense’s complete arsenal will be available if junior QB Tony Pike is healthy enough to start. If not, a more scaled-down version will be instituted for Chazz Anderson. Pike re-injured his non-throwing arm, making it a game-time decision between him and the redshirt freshman Anderson. Turnovers, once the calling card for Cincinnati’s defense, have been virtually non-existent this year. The Bearcats, who led the nation in turnover-margin last year at plus-16, are now minus-6. Cincy rank a surprisingly low sixth in total defense in the Big East.

Cincinnati is 4-1 ATS in its last 5 Thursday games.
Cincinnati is 6-1-1 ATS in its last 8 games following a SU loss.

Key Injuries - QB Tony Pike (arm) is questionable.

PROJECTED SCORE: 24


S FLORIDA (6 - 2) at CINCINNATI (5 - 2)
There are no Top Trends with records of significance that apply to this game.

Head-to-Head Series History
CINCINNATI is 2-0 against the spread versus S FLORIDA over the last 3 seasons
CINCINNATI is 2-0 straight up against S FLORIDA over the last 3 seasons
1 of 2 games in this series have gone OVER THE TOTAL over the last 3 seasons


South Florida at Cincinnati
South Florida: 1-6 ATS after gaining 325+ passing yards
Cincinnati: 6-0 ATS off road loss


SOUTH FLORIDA vs. CINCINNATI
South Florida is 1-4 ATS in its last 5 games when playing Cincinnati
South Florida is 3-6 ATS in its last 9 games on the road
Cincinnati is 2-4 ATS in its last 6 games
Cincinnati is 4-1 SU in its last 5 games

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Re: Thursday Night Football

Thursday Night Football
By Indiancowboy

South Florida vs. Cincinnati

Over 60% of the public favors South Florida here on the road at Cincinnati. In fact, that number is nearly around 67%. The total sits at 50.5 and the spread is around -2.5 for the road favorite here in the Bulls. This is the only game nationally televised today and on tap today as there is no football action on Friday. This is likely the case considering that there is a full slate of NBA on tap for Friday. Grothe has done a great job of quarterbacking as he has thrown for 14 touchdowns and just 5 interceptions. Keep in mind though that Tony Pike is no slouch and he has thrown for 7 touchdowns and 2 interceptions. Cincy beat Florida last year if you remember 38-33 on the road and covered the +4.5 spread outright. In fact, that was a game that South Florida had revenge in but the Bearcats have beat them in back to back games. Remember, these two teams play out of the Big East and this is a conference game for them. Cincy has covered the last 4 times these two teams have played. The Bearcats come off an ugly loss to Connecticut on the road as they return home and South Florida too comes off a close loss to Louisville on the road. I actually lean on the Bearcats here given that it is a solid public fade, but keep in mind it is tough to go against either team as they both come off tough losses and of course, South Florida has yet to lose back to back games this year and they do have revenge coming into this game.

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Re: Thursday Night Football

Are they for real? South Florida Bulls
Steve Merril Sports

South Florida burst onto the scene last year and climbed as high as No. 2 in the national polls by midseason. They faltered down the stretch, losing four of their final seven games, but still garnered a respectable 9-4 record. This year’s Bulls team isn’t surprising anyone, but that didn’t stop them from starting the season with five straight wins. The team is now 6-2 overall, but we must still ask if South Florida is for real?

When looking at South Florida’s schedule there is not much to talk about except for a 37-34 come-from-behind home win versus No. 13 Kansas last month. Non-conference victories over UCF, FIU and NC State do not exactly strike fear into anyone. Clearly home-field advantage wasn’t enough to beat Pittsburgh as the Panthers ran and passed the ball with success, gaining 374 total yards in a 26-21 win as a 13-point underdog. Despite this result, South Florida’s defense is still ranked 11th in the country, including eighth against the rush. The Bulls have kept a solid defensive ranking, despite losing both of their cornerbacks from last year. Future NFL first-round pick George Selvie is back with five sacks this season, despite the fact he is double-teamed on regular basis.

Last year’s team was all about the defense. This year’s version is all about Matt Grothe. The 6-foot quarterback is a dual threat using both his arm and his legs to threaten opposing defenses. Grothe has accounted for over 300 yards of total offense five times this season. His worst game of the season statistically, outside of an effort against UT-Martin, came in their loss to Pittsburgh. The signal caller has a good TD/INT ratio with 14 touchdowns to five interceptions and has a stable of backs to hand it off to including Mike Ford, Moise Plancher, Benjamin Williams and Jamar Taylor. The Bulls rushing offense is ranked 41st in the country and is currently averaging 171 yards per game (4.2 ypr).

Wide receivers Jessie Hester, Taurus Johnson, AJ Love, and Carlton Mitchell are all capable wideouts, but don't have overwhelming numbers. as Johnson averages the most receiving yards per game at 48.3, but overall the passing offense has been very efficient and averages 66.4 percent completions and 8.2 yards per pass (versus opponents that allow just 61.3 percent and 7.1 ypp). Overall, the Bulls are ranked 28th in the country in total offense, averaging 33.5 points per game and 5.9 yards per play.

South Florida has played a relatively easy schedule this year, but there are some challenges remaining which include road games at Cincinnati and West Virginia, plus home games versus inconsistent Rutgers and UConn squads. The lack of an offensive “go-to” guy outside of Grothe will ultimately hurt South Florida. They have put up high scores of 56, 41, 45 points so far this season offensively, but they’ve also had 17, 20 and 21 points in games as well. Last year’s squad used defense and Grothe to get to the Sun Bowl. This year South Florida is going to need a little more from the offensive side if they hope to make it to a better bowl game. Overall, the Bulls are a decent a team, but as far as the Top 20 is concerned, South Florida is not for real.

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