|Connecticut DE Trevardo Williams was a menace last week against Louisville. (US Presswire)|
Kickoff: Saturday, 3:30 p.m. ET (ABC)
Spread: Cincinnati by 5
Watchability: Surprisingly, this game has some juice for both teams. If Louisville beats Rutgers on Thursday, Cincinnati will be playing for a share of the Big East title -- its fourth in five years. With a win, UConn will be bowl eligible.
Shining stars: Cincinnati -- RB George Winn. At the season's start, few expected Cincinnati to be a team to lean on its run game. Quarterback Munchie Legaux was expected to be the offensive catalyst, but much has changed since then. Winn has been terrific, rushing for more than 1,100 yards in his senior year. Connecticut -- DE Trevardo Williams. The senior upped his sack total to 11.5 -- best in the Big East -- after a three-sack performance against Louisville last week. Williams will be hot on the trail of Cincinnati quarterback Brendon Kay on Saturday, though the Bearcats are one of the best team's nationally in terms of keeping their quarterback clean.
Who could steal the show: Cincinnati -- LB Greg Blair. If Connecticut is to be successful -- as it was a week ago -- the Huskies will need a solid run game. Blair has had seven games with 10 or more tackles, including a 19-tackle effort at Louisville. Connecticut -- RB Lyle McCombs. Blair's main target, McCombs has been coming on lately. In the Huskies' last two -- both wins -- McCombs rushed for better than 120 yards in both games. He'll need a similar output Saturday to keep UConn on its winning track.
You going? Ranking the road trip: This is a big game for fans of both teams (unless Rutgers wins Thursday, then it doesn't really matter for Cincy). UConn has played well in its last two, and now the Huskies, somehow, have a chance to become bowl eligible.
Magic number for Cincinnati: 20. In his last four games, Cincinnati tight end Travis Kelce has 20 catches and three touchdowns. He leads the Bearcats in catches overall (35) and has become a major part of the offense since Kay took over at quarterback. He could cause some matchup problems against UConn.
Magic number for Connecticut: 10. The Huskies are 10th nationally in total defense, and they've shown in their last two wins that they can hold any offense at bay. Both Pittsburgh (28.7 points per game average, scored 17 vs. UConn) and Louisville (31.1 points per game average, 20 vs. UConn in three overtimes) scored well below their respective season averages in losses to Connecticut.
The game comes down to: Defense and running. How effective will Winn be? McCombs? If the Huskies continue with the blueprint of shutting down the opposing offense and running effectively, they may be on their way to their fifth bowl game in six years.
Prediction: Cincinnati 23, Connecticut 21
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