MEMPHIS, Tenn. – No. 18 Memphis looks for a win over No. 17 Cincinnati in its regular-season finale Friday, just to get a chance to play a rematch next week. The Bearcats have already clinched the American Athletic Conference's East Division and a spot in the AAC Championship Game next weekend, but the Tigers need a win in this game -- or a loss by Navy -- to earn the AAC West title and a spot against Cincinnati next week.
TV: 3:30 p.m. ET, ABC. LINE: Memphis -11
Cincinnati has only one loss this season, against the nation's No. 2 team, Ohio State, winning nine straight since that setback, including last week's 15-13 nail-biter over Temple. The Bearcats' defense has been the story of the team's success, holding opponents to 19.9 points per game (17.7 if you don't count the 42 points scored by the Buckeyes), which is tied for 23rd in the nation. It's the exact opposite story with Memphis, which is eighth in the country in scoring at 42.2 points per game behind the play of quarterback Brady White (3,074 yards, 30 TDs). Running back Kenneth Gainwell has been hard to stop as well, rushing for 1,294 yards and 12 touchdowns as well as making 38 catches for 472 yards and three more scores.
ABOUT CINCINNATI (10-1, 7-0 AAC)
As Cincinnati prepares to take on the highest-scoring team it has faced since losing to Ohio State, it needs a bit more out of its passing game if it hopes to stick with the Tigers. The Bearcats have failed to pass for more than 100 yards in consecutive games for the first time since 1997, throwing for 78 yards against South Florida and 62 against Temple. Sophomore quarterback Desmond Ridder has played in the last two games with a shoulder injury but the Bearcats’ passing game hasn’t been prolific all season long, averaging just 179.5 yards per contest.
ABOUT MEMPHIS (10-1, 6-1)
Weather could be a factor in Friday’s game, with rain possible, and the Tigers went 0-3 in rainy games last season. Memphis has a streak of five consecutive contsts of 40 or more points and three straight games with more than 510 yards of total offense, so even bad weather might not be a problem, but the Cincinnati defense could be. The Tigers -- and White in particular -- have to be patient against a tough Bearcats defense and not force things that can lead to turnovers, as Cincinnati is tied with Ohio State for seventh in the nation with 23 takeaways this season.
1. The winner of this game will be the host for next week's AAC Championship Game.
2. After starting the season 5-of-12 in red-zone trips, Cincinnati has scored in 35 of its last 38 trips inside the opposition's 20, including its last 19.
3. In just second game back after missing eight contests with injury, Memphis RB Patrick Taylor Jr. had a three-TD game in the win over South Florida.
PREDICTION: Memphis 35, Cincinnati 24