The Big Ten’s Purdue Boilermakers will open the 2013 football season with a high noon showdown against the Cincinnati Bearcats from the newly formed American Athletic Conference this Saturday afternoon at Nippert Stadium. The game will be broadcast nationally on ESPNU.
Purdue opened the 2012 season with three straight up wins in its first four games and closed things out with a 3-1 SU record down the stretch, but a five-game losing streak in Big Ten play led to an overall record of 6-7 and a 3-5 mark in conference play.
The Bearcats tied for a share of the final Big East title at 5-2 SU, and they finished last season at 10-3 SU overall after beating Duke 48-34 in the Belk Bowl as nine-point favorites. They come into this season as second favorites to Louisville to win the first-ever AAC title.
Purdue at Cincinnati Betting Storylines
Purdue decided to go in a new direction with the hiring of Darrell Hazell as its next head coach. He was able to turn the football program around at Kent State, and the Boilermakers are hoping he has what it takes to make this program a factor in the Big Ten title chase.
He will have his work cut out for him this season with a number of new starters, including quarterback Rob Henry, who threw a total of 38 passes in 2012. Akeem Hunt will also be relied upon as the leading rusher left from last year’s squad. He gained 335 yards on 42 carries as a backup to Akeem Shavers.
Defensively, the Boilermakers were ranked 89th in the nation in points allowed in 2012, giving up an average of 31.2 points a game. They return eight starters from that unit, including safety Landon Feichter and defensive end Ryan Russell. Feichter led the team in tackles (80) and interceptions (four), while Russell led the team in sacks with 4.5.
The Bearcats will also have a new face at the helm with Tommy Tuberville as their new head coach. Last season both Munchie Legaux and Brendon Kay split time at quarterback, and that appears to be the plan again for this season. Kay was more accurate throwing the ball, and both have the added ability of picking up yards with their legs.
The loss of running back George Winn will be a huge hole to fill in a rushing attack that averaged 201.5 yards a game, but Tuberville is counting on Ralph Abernathy to elevate his game this season.
Cincinnati’s defense was ranked 14th in the nation in points allowed (18.5). And while it did have some breakdowns in the secondary, the return of cornerback Deven Drane and safety Arryn Chenault should go a long way toward tightening things up in that area.
The one concern could be up front with a couple of key linemen gone from last year’s squad. The Bearcats will need a big effort from Silverberry Mouhon and Jordan Stepp to fill the gaps up front.
Week 1 Betting Odds and Trends
Point Spread: Cincinnati (-10.5)
Total Line: 50.5
The Boilermakers are 3-7 against the spread in their last 10 games and 3-6 SU in their last nine. The total has gone over in eight of their last 11 contests.
The Bearcats are 5-1 SU in their last six games, and they have won seven of their last eight home games SU. They went 9-4 ATS last season, and the total stayed under in three of five home games.
The last time these two teams met was in 2001, with Purdue coming away with a 19-14 win as a 7.5-point road favorite.
While you never like to give up more than 10 points in an opening weekend matchup between two unfamiliar teams, the clear advantage in talent is clearly with Cincinnati in this matchup.
The Boilermakers come into this game and this season with just too many question marks on both sides of the ball in what could easily turn into a double-digit romp for the Bearcats.
Take: No. 176 Cincinnati (-10.5) over Purdue (noon ET Saturday, Aug. 31)