Boston College (6-6) is playing in its fifth bowl game during the seven-year Steve Addazio era, which ended earlier this season when Addazio was fired. Wide receivers coach Rich Gunnell will serve as the interim head coach in the bowl game. Jeff Hafley, the co-defensive coordinator at Ohio State, was hired to replace Addazio. Hafley was the co-defensive coordinator at Ohio State and admitted he did not plan on leaving Columbus after just one season. “But when this one opened, it felt special, it felt right,” Hafley said during his introductory press conference.
Cincinnati (10-3) is searching for its second straight 11-win season. The Bearcats only losses this season were to Ohio State very early on, and then Memphis in the American Athletic Conference Championship. This will be Luke Fickell’s second bowl game in his third year as head coach. Cincinnati defeated Virginia Tech 35-31 in the Military Bowl last season, Fickell’s first bowl win as head coach. Michael Warren II rushed for 166 yards and two scores in the bowl victory last year over the Hokies. Warren followed that up with his second straight 1,000-yard season in 2019 with 33 touchdowns.
ESPN’s FPI gives Cincinnati a 66.1% chance of winning this game. We break down the line and offer our best bets and analysis for Thursday’s Birmingham Bowl between the Eagles and Bearcats.
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Boston College vs. Cincinnati Game Details
Date: Thursday, January 2
Time: 3:00 p.m. ET
Location: Legion Field (Birmingham, Alabama)
Spread: Cincinnati -7.5
This line opened at Cincinnati -4.5 and has been bet up to Cincinnati -7.5 with the majority of the bets and money coming in on the Bearcats. This line is correlated with the action and is moving with the market.
- Boston College is 6-6 SU and 7-5 ATS this season
- Cincinnati is 10-3 SU and 8-5 ATS this season
- Over is 8-4 in Boston College games this season
- Under is 10-3 in Cincinnati games this season
Analysis & Pick
My first thought about the Birmingham Bowl is that it’s unfortunate we don’t get to see AJ Dillon. The junior running back will skip the game and instead focus on the NFL draft. Dillon finishes his career on Chestnut Hill with a school-record of 4,382 rushing yards. Dillon also led the ACC in rushing this season with 1,685 yards and will be one of the top running back prospects at the combine. Another loss for the Eagles is offensive coordinator Mike Bajakian, who will not coach in the game after taking the same position at Northwestern. Meanwhile, Cincinnati is adding pieces to the puzzle. I expect star quarterback Desmond Ridder to be fully recovered from a shoulder injury that hampered him in the AAC title game as he completed just 16-of-36 passes. Injuries have been an issue for Ridder, who was also forced to leave last year’s military bowl after tweaking his ankle. If Ridder is 100% and the Bearcats are fully focused on rebounding from a tough loss in the conference championship game, this should be a blowout. Add in a 100% chance of rain in Birmingham, which should slow down both offenses, and Cincinnati’s top-40 rushing defense, and there’s only one side to bet here regardless of Ridder’s health. Take the Bearcats.
PICK: Cincinnati -7.5
Follow Jared Smith on Twitter: @jaredleesmith