Two of the nation’s most prolific offenses meet in an American Athletic Conference showdown when Cincinnati visits Memphis on Thursday night. While Memphis quarterback Paxton Lynch looks to lead the Tigers to their 11th consecutive victory, Cincinnati signal-caller Gunner Kiel suffered a shoulder injury last Saturday and is considered day-to-day.
“He’ll have a good chance to play,” Bearcats coach Tommy Tuberville told reporters Tuesday of Kiel, who has thrown for 805 yards and five touchdowns in three games. Freshman Hayden Moore is the backup for Cincinnati, which has six players with at least 128 receiving yards. The 6-7 Lynch has completed 76.6 percent of his passes with six touchdown strikes and no interceptions for Memphis, which has totaled 162 points in three wins as it prepares for its toughest test yet. “I think we have one of the best offenses in the country,” Tigers running back Sam Craft told the Memphis Commercial Appeal. “We’re just trying to prove it day in and day out.”
TV: 7:30 p.m. ET, ESPN.
LINE HISTORY: Books opened Memphis as a 7-point fave but that has been moved to -9.5. The total opened at 67.5, but has come down to 66.5.
WEATHER: Temperatures expected to be in the mid-80s under partly cloudy skies. Wind will blow across the field at around four miles per hour.
INJURY REPORT: Cincinnati – RB Mike Boone (Probable, ankle), WR Shaq Washington (Probable, undisclosed), WR Mekale McKay (Probable, undisclosed), QB Gunner Kiel (Doubtful, head), OL Idarius Ray (Questionable, undisclosed), CB Leviticus Payne (Questionable, undisclosed). Memphis – OL Taylor Fallin (Questionable, undisclosed).
WHAT CAPPERS SAY: “Memphis won 41-14 in Cincinnati last season, and there’s a very good chance that the Tigers easily eclipse that point total in this game. Memphis’ offense has been unstoppable so far this season, and the Bearcats’ defense is reeling right now; they gave up 67 points combined to Miami (OH) and Temple in their last two games. Cincinnati also lost defensive captain Adrian Witty for the season to a broken ankle last week, and starting quarterback Gunner Kiel is listed as questionable with a head injury. If he can’t play, freshman Hayden Moore will start, and Cincinnati’s offense may be more conservative and try to control the clock by running the ball more often.” Covers Expert Steve Merril.
ABOUT CINCINNATI (2-1 SU, 0-3 ATS, 3-0 O/U): Kiel has completed 63 percent of his passes, but threw four interceptions in the Bearcats’ 34-26 loss to Temple on Sept. 12, and Moore had two picks in the 37-33 win over Miami (Ohio) last week. Cincinnati boasts three players with at least 220 rushing yards while Johnny Holton (eight catches, 167 yards) and Shaq Washington (17, 166) are the top receiving targets. The Bearcats, who are allowing a conference-best 152.3 yards per game through the air, lost senior cornerback Adrian Witty (ankle) indefinitely last week.
ABOUT MEMPHIS (3-0 SU, 2-1 ATS, 3-0 O/U): The Tigers average 570.3 yards to rank eighth in the country – one spot behind Cincinnati (579.3) – and never have scored more points in a three-game stretch in team history after the 44-41 win over Bowling Green last Saturday. Jarvis Cooper (174 yards, three TDs) leads a deep running back corps that has accumulated 12 rushing scores. Mose Frazier is Lynch’s first option with 17 receptions and 232 yards to go along with two touchdowns while the Tigers have recorded eight sacks – led by lineman Donald Pennington’s 2.5.
* Bearcats are 5-1 ATS in their last six meetings.
* Tigers are 4-1 ATS in their last five games overall.
* Over is 5-0 in Bearcats last five games overall.
* Over is 6-0 in Tigers last six home games.
COVERS CONSENSUS: Fifty-seven percent of Covers users are on the Bearcats.