The Cincinnati Bearcats will look for their first conference win of the season when they host the SMU Mustangs. Game time is 4:00 EST on Saturday, October 21 at Nippert Stadium in Cincinnati, Ohio. The game can be seen on ESPNU.

Early betting in favor of SMU has pushed the Mustangs from 7-point favorites to 8.5-point favorites. The game’s over/under is 54 points. Click here for a full list of Week 8 betting odds and links to game previews.

SMU vs Cincinnati Game Preview & Betting Odds

SMU is coming off a disappointing 35-22 loss to Houston last week. But the Mustangs remain very much alive in the American Conference West division. SMU’s only other loss this season came against TCU. At 4-2, the Mustangs are a quality team with one of the most dynamic offenses in the country, scoring close to 44 points per game.

Cincinnati, on the other hand, is still looking for their first conference win of the season. The Bearcats are in the middle of a four-game losing streak that has dropped them to 2-5 on the season and 0-3 in conference play. To be fair, three of Cincinnati’s losses have come against ranked teams. They are not as bad as their record may suggest. Nevertheless, one more loss and the Bearcats will have no margin for error if they hope to go bowling this year.

Free NCAAF Betting Prediction: Over

I like SMU to win the game and cover, but I like the over on total points a whole lot more. SMU has an up-tempo offense that averages better than 40 points per game. Against a defense that’s one of the worst in the country statistically, the Mustangs could threaten 54 points on their own. When you consider that SMU’s defense isn’t that great either, there’s great value in taking the over.

SMU’s sophomore quarterback Ben Hicks has taken off this year after getting his feet wet last season. In games the Mustangs have won, he’s only thrown one interception, so he’s taken care of the ball against average or below-average defenses.

Hicks also has one receiver in Trey Quinn who has already exceeded 500 yards receiving this year and another in Courtland Sutton who’s just a few yards shy of that mark. The Mustangs also have a competent rushing attack that averages nearly five yards per carry. This gives them an offense that is both balanced and capable of producing big plays.

Click on the link for more free NCAA football picks against the spread and total.

Based on recent history, the Cincinnati defense is not equipped to handle the SMU offense. During their current losing streak, the Bearcats are allowing 41 points per game. The Mustangs are no less dangerous offensively than any of the teams Cincinnati has played during that span. I would expect SMU to push 40 points in this game, at the very least.

Offensively, the Bearcats have struggled this year, but they should have some success against SMU. With the Mustangs pushing a high-tempo, it’ll lead to more possessions for Cincinnati and more opportunities to score points. Even in their wins, the SMU defense is giving up nearly 24 points per game. Plus, if the Bearcats have any chance to win, they’ll have to keep up with the Mustangs offensively. This will force Cincy to take some chances down the field in an effort to keep up with SMU.

The SMU defense is not nearly as good as the USF defense that held Cincinnati to just three points last week. The Bearcats will get enough going offensively to score at least 20 points. Between that and the high-powered SMU offense, these two teams can definitely come up with at least 55 points.