If the players and coaches on these two teams were swapped and Desmond Ridder was quarterbacking Indiana under Luke Fickell and playing Cincinnati, this line would be more than 4. Cincinnati has been a top-10 team in college football for the past two years but still isn’t totally getting the respect because they’re a Group of 5 school. Cincinnati went 9-1 last year, their lone loss being to Georgia on a last-second field goal in the Sugar Bowl. They went 6-4 ATS last year despite being massive favorites in a lot of conference games. I think this Cincy team is the best G5 team we’ve seen in a long time, maybe ever in the current CFP format and they have something to prove this year. Despite their undefeated season last year they were never truly considered for the CFP because of their strength of schedule but this year they have Indiana and Notre Dame on their schedule and if they can pull out this win plus upset the Irish on the way to another undefeated season, I think they will be legitimately considered for the playoff.
Cincy has had two cupcake games so far this season and has looked dominant in both and with a bye week next week, they truly have had nothing to focus on but this matchup with the Hoosiers all season. Meanwhile, Indiana had to come out Week One against a really good Iowa team and got crushed by the Hawkeyes. I was down on Indiana already going into this year after having a lot of good luck last season and the Iowa game proved they were due for this negative regression. No matter what the little number next to Cincy says, there is no way Indiana will be as up for this game as they would a big-time Big Ten game whereas this is one of the two biggest games of the year for Cincy.
Michael Penix was atrocious against Iowa and Indiana just kept the ball on the ground for the most part against Idaho so I think Penix will have little to no confidence going against this Bearcats defense that was 3rd in the nation in defensive passing efficiency last season. The Bearcats should handle the Indiana offense handily and grind the Hoosiers defense down with the dual-threat attack of Desmond Ridder.