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How and what to watch for No. 23 Tulsa vs. No. 9 Cincinnati in AAC Championship Game

The AAC championship game features two teams with dominant defenses going head-to-head. But will Cincy be looking to send a message to the playoff committee?

Cincinnati Bearcats quarterback Desmond Ridder throws a pass against the UCF Knights during the second half at the Bounce House. Reinhold Matay-USA TODAY Sports

The 2020 American Athletic Conference champion will be crowned on Saturday at Nippert Stadium with the host Cincinnati Bearcats going toe-to-toe with the Tulsa Golden Hurricane poised to be a defensive slugfest.

Due to Covid-19 the No. 9 Bearcats have been sidelined for almost an entire month, with their last game being a gritty 36-33 win over UCF on Nov. 21. As their games have gotten canceled, the undefeated Bearcats have been forced to sit and watch as the College Football Playoff committee has effectively killed any chance of them crashing the party, the latest rankings with a two-loss Florida ranked two spots ahead of them being the latest slap in the face.

Before their hiatus, Cincy was turning things into high-gear by posting four straight blowout victories of 28 or more points. Quarterback Desmond Ridder shook off a slow start to the season to make big plays for the Bearcats while defensive coordinator Marcus Freeman’s defense imposed their will.

Speaking of defense, Tulsa’s surprise 6-1 run through the American was fueled by linebacker Zaven Collins, whose 52 tackles, four interceptions, four sacks and two forced fumbles earned him unanimous AAC Defensive Player of the Year honors and is quickly skyrocketing up NFL Draft boards as a potential first-round pick.

The Golden Hurricane defense is currently ranked 26th in SP+ and is holding opposing offenses to just 4.5 yards per play.

Game Time/TV Channel/Streaming

You can watch Tulsa vs. Cincinnati on Saturday, December 19th at 8:00 p.m. ET on ABC, or you can stream it via the ESPN app or here with a cable or streaming service login.

Point Spread, Totals, Odds, Trends

Point spread: Tulsa vs. Cincinnati -14
Point Total: 45
Money line: Tulsa +460, Cincinnati -670

  • Cincinnati is a perfect 8-0 against the spread this season while Tulsa is 6-1.
  • Tulsa is 2-0 against the spread as a road underdog this season.
  • Tulsa covered the spread as a 15.5 point underdog in last year’s matchup between the two schools. The UNDER of 47 hit in a 24-13 Cincinnati victory.

Betting splits

Tulsa: (33% of handle, 34% percent of bets)
Cincinnati: (67% of handle, 66% percent of bets)

The Best Bet

It’s the No. 5 and No. 26 defenses per SP+ taking the field in a championship bout. While this has the makings of a slugfest, Cincinnati will be out to make a statement after being disrespected by the committee.

Luke Fickell was on the Ohio State staff for the 59-0 bludgeoning of Wisconsin in the 2014 Big Ten Championship game that got them into the playoff. Chances are, he’ll want this Bearcat team to send a similar message with everyone watching.

Pick: Cincinnati (-14)

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