The stars may be aligning for the first non-Power 5 team to ever make the College Football Playoff. Clemson and Ohio State have both taken early season losses, Cincinnati returns basically everyone from last year's Peach Bowl team that almost beat Georgia, and the Bearcats have a great chance to win their league without a loss. If they can beat Indiana and Notre Dame on the road, might they earn one of those coveted four CFP bids?
For that reason, Saturday's game is arguably the most meaningful contest in Cincinnati program history. That's not hyperbole for a team that's played in some big games before.
Here's what the BuckeyesNow staff expects in a Saturday matinee in Bloomington.
CINCINNATI at INDIANA – Saturday, 12:00 p.m.
Spread: Cincinnati (-3.5)
O/U Total: 49.5
Brendan Gulick: Cincinnati 27, Indiana 25
I have a soft spot in my heart for the Bearcats and I love what Luke Fickell has done down there. Perhaps this is more of a pick with my heart than my head, but I also genuinely think the Bearcats have a powerhouse team this year. Desmond Ritter is a dude and I think a win over Indiana is in the cards.
The Hoosiers are very capable of winning this game, and boy do they need a boost after a sloppy start to the season. But I think Cincinnati keeps their CFP hopes alive with a win over Tom Allen's Hoosiers. The Bearcats athleticism and efficiency is awfully impressive this year.
Andrew Lind: Cincinnati 24, Indiana 21
This game lost some of its luster after the Hoosiers dropped their season opener at Iowa, but they can still end any hope of the Bearcats challenging for a College Football Playoff berth and prove that last year’s record was no fluke with a win.
This game could be a trap game for Cincinnati, which has a potential top-10 matchup with Notre Dame on the horizon. Head coach Luke Fickell will keep the Bearcats’ eyes on the prize, though, and a later turnover from Indiana quarterback Michael Penix Jr. will be the difference.
Brett Hiltbrand: Cincinnati 34, Indiana 21
If you read this every week, you certainly saw what has to be the best 'worst' pick of the year when I wrote that I liked Clay Helton. Happy job hunting, my friend - send me the invoice for jinxing that one into the ether. Why am I talking about USC? Because some genius decided to connect Cincinnati's Luke Fickell to that job which he absolutely would not take. I hope my luck with Clay Helton doesn't leak it's way into Nippert because I love what UC is building. Remember that Indiana hype going into the season? That was fun.
Caleb Spinner: Cincinnati 42, Indiana 28
I don’t think there’s much to say about this game. Cincinnati has a great team, and the Hoosiers seem to still be figuring things out this season. I spoke in Week 1 how the Hoosiers were building up to something great, and I still believe that. However, the opening loss to Iowa seems to have shaken their confidence. The Bearcats take the win over the Hoosiers, 42-28.
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