American, Football

Showdown on the Mississippi: Can Memphis tackle Cincinnati?

So this is what it comes down to? Or at least maybe. At the start of the season most pundits thought it would UCF that would roll to another undefeated season, and most likely, another NY6 bowl game.

But that’s why they play the games, someone once said.

So here we are! It’s late November and the American Athletic Conference has a showcase game featuring No. 18-ranked Memphis (6-1 AAC, 10-1 overall) and No. 19 Cincinnati (7-0, 10-1). The winner will be in the driver’s seat for the coveted trip to Dallas to play in the Cotton Bowl.

But despite the hype, the oddsmakers think this one will be a tad one-sided as Memphis (as of Tuesday) is an 11-point favorite. Over at ESPN, its matchup predictor gives the Tigers a 66.7 percent chance of winning. So does Cincinnati even have a chance? Probably, and if you are a Boise State or Appalachian State fan, you hope it does.

Not so fast. Cincinnati already locked up the AAC East title, and even with a loss Friday, it still will get another shot at Memphis in the AAC title game. A loss by Memphis, however, would allow Navy (with a win over Houston on Saturday) would send the Midshipmen to the AAC title game. Whew. Did you get all that?

“This is a must-win for us,” Memphis coach Mike Norvell said

It sure is, but then so too would the next one. But in order to play for the AAC title and a possible NY6 berth, the cart cannot come before the horse.

“If we have the opportunity to get them again, we’ll focus on that when we get there,” Norvell said. “But right now, it’s all about this week and the opportunity in front of us.”

So will Cincinnati have a chance? Sure, but will the Bearcats come out on top? Doubtful, or at least in Round 1.

Prediction: Memphis 34, Cincinnati 24.

Photo: Courtesy of the University of Cincinnati

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