G.W. Gras

Senior Writer for The Bears Brawl and Lead Host of The Bears Brawl Podcast.

Memphis Tigers
Last season (8-4 in regular season; 8-6 counting bowl games)
This season O/U Win Total: 9

The Memphis Tigers have had to ride in the backseat of the American Athletic Conference while rival UCF has pretty much been the main event. Junior quarterback Brady White will be starting for the second straight season at Memphis, last year he racked up nearly 3,300 passing yards with 26 touchdowns and only 9 interceptions. Who won’t be returning, are running backs Darrell Henderson and Tony Pollard who are now in the NFL, but they still return a 1000 yard rusher from last season’s team in senior Patrick Taylor. Taylor is strong-back at 6’3” 223 pounds who will most certainly be the focus of the Tigers attack this season.

Source: Jonathan Bachman/Getty Images North America

Many think that with no Henderson and a new offensive coordinator, for second year starter at quarterback in White, this will be a hindrance to this team’s success. Think again. New offensive coordinator Kevin Johns has an impressive resume which includes being the OC and quarterbacks coach at Western Michigan in 2017, where they averaged 34 points per game; and a 2018 run at Texas Tech as offensive coordinator and wide receiver coach where the Red Raiders put up 37 points per contest. Memphis had no issue on offense last season, so expect the system to be remain generally consistent with a few nice tweaks added to their repertoire.

Defensively, Memphis is a work in progress and that side of the ball has a new coordinator as well in Adam Fuller, formally of Marshall. They have two consistent pass rushers in Bryce Huff and Joseph Dorceus and that may be all they need to flip field position against their opponents in the AAC.

Looking at their 12 game schedule and then looking at their magic number of “9,” it shouldn’t be a surprise to see them work out at least 10 wins this season. Last season they lost both games against Navy and UCF by a single point. This season, Navy has to come to Memphis and UCF is not even on their schedule. Tulane got the best of them last season but Memphis gets the advantage this season in hosting the match-up. Even their opener against SEC opponent Ole Miss is in Memphis, which should make that one a toss-up at worse.

The Pick: OVER 9 wins

 

 

Cincinnati Bearcats
Last Season (10-2 in regular season; 11-2 counting bowl game)
This Season O/U Win Total: 6.5

The Cincinnati Bearcats had somewhat of a “surprise-season,” in 2018. They went into UCLA and won 26-17, which seemed like a big deal but then we all saw what UCLA was for the remainder of the season. Yes, they clobbered Navy 42-0 but last year’s Navy team was nothing close to what we know them to be. The Bearcats had heart last year, you have to give them that, but last year was just an anomaly – nothing more, nothing less.

Quarterback Desmond Ridder finished the season with 2445 passing yards, 20 touchdowns and 5 interceptions. Not exactly the stat line one would expect to see from a 11-2 team playing in the AAC. Looking deeper into Ridder’s numbers, makes them look even more pedestrian. 7 of those touchdown passes came against NCAA doormats East Carolina and Alabama A&M. He only had two games of over 300 yards passing and that came against (no surprise here) East Carolina and an overtime game against SMU’s shaky defense.

Michael Warren is a good running back prospect who is currently under the national radar, and he is the one who the whole offense must rely on to move the ball.

Source: Getty Images North America)

The 2019 schedule for the Bearcats opens up pretty rough.  They open at home, against an improved UCLA team looking to get revenge; then it’s off to Ohio State to get destroyed; a breather against Miami of Ohio, then off to Marshall, home against UCF and then at Houston. In a 12 game schedule, they’d be lucky to pull off two wins in their first six games of the season.

Expect the Bearcats to be as mediocre as always. Remember: Last year was an anomaly.

The Pick: UNDER 6.5 Wins

G.W. Gras
Twitter @GeeSteelio