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Cincinnati a Touchdown Favorite Over Boston College in the 2019 Birmingham Bowl

Blair Johnson

by Blair Johnson in College Football

Dec 26, 2019 · 5:55 AM PST

Cincinnati Bearcats celebrating in the locker room
The AAC East Division champions are touchdown favorites in the Birmingham Bowl. Photo by @GoBearcatsFB (Twitter).
  • Cincinnati is a touchdown favorite over Boston College in the Birmingham Bowl on Jan. 2
  • The Bearcats narrowly missed out on an AAC title after losing to Memphis 29-24 in the conference championship game
  • The Eagles will be without running back A.J. Dillon, who led the ACC in rushing and will forego the bowl game to prepare for the 2020 NFL Draft

The Cincinnati Bearcats (10-3, 7-1 AAC) are a touchdown favorite over the Boston College Eagles (6-6, 4-4 ACC) in the Birmingham Bowl on January 2 at 3:00 PM ET.

The Bearcats narrowly missed out on an AAC title (and Cotton Bowl berth) after losing to Memphis 29-24 in the conference championship game. The Eagles will be without running back A.J. Dillon, who led the ACC in rushing and will forego the bowl game to prepare for the 2020 NFL Draft.

Boston College Eagles vs Cincinnati Bearcats odds

Team Moneyline Spread Over/Under
Boston College +220 +7.0 (-110) O 55.5 (-110)
Cincinnati -270 -7.0 (-110) U 55.5 (-110)

Odds taken Dec. 17 . 

When considering the Boston College vs Cincinnati odds, there are several factors to consider. How motivated will Cincy be after being missing out on a New Year’s Six bowl? How much will BC really miss Dillon with understudy David Bailey waiting in the wings?

Legion Field Isn’t AT&T Stadium

With all due respect to the good people of Birmingham and the folks that run the bowl played in Alabama’s biggest city, it’s not the Cotton Bowl. Cincinnati may very well have been on its way to Jerry World if it had taken care of business in the AAC championship game against Memphis. But the Bearcats lost that game 29-24 (after also losing to those same Tigers 34-24 in Week 14).

That said, there’s still much to play for on Jan. 2 for Cincy. A second-straight 11-win season is on the line, as is a ranked finish. Cincinnati has been a bit of a stepping-stone program over the last decade-plus, being the spot where Mark Dantonio, Brian Kelly, and Butch Jones all coached before moving on to a bigger gig.

But third-year head coach (and former Ohio State lifer) Luke Fickell seems to be putting roots down in the Queen City. Fickell told Cincinnati.com recently, “I knew when I came here that this was a place, at least I believed this was a place, that you could stay for a long time, and not just have success but enjoy.what it is that you’re doing.” This is comforting news for UC football fans. I don’t expect lack of motivation to be a factor against BC.

No Dillon, No Problem?

A.J. Dillon has been one of the best players in Boston College history. He’s the school’s all-time leading rusher with 4,382 yards and finished his junior season with an ACC-best 1,685 rushing yards (which is also fourth-best in college football this season). But he won’t play January 2.

The three-time All-ACC first-team running back gives way to sophomore David Bailey, who ran for 816 yards and seven touchdowns in 2019. He owns a 5.8 yards per carry average. These are solid numbers that illustrate how good the Eagles offensive line is.

Even though Dillon will be missed, I expect Bailey to take advantage of the situation. The 6-1, 240-pounder should play well in Birmingham and carry momentum into spring ball next year as the undisputed No. 1 tailback.

BC’s Record Might Be Deceiving

Yes, Boston College needed a 26-19 victory over Pittsburgh in its final game to become bowl eligible. And, yes, this is a team that got housed by Clemson 59-7, Notre Dame 40-7, and Kansas 48-24 in Chestnut Hill as a 21-point favorite.

That September loss to the Jayhawks was probably the final nail in the coffin for Steve Addazio, who was fired Dec. 1 even though he got BC to the postseason in six of his seven seasons at the helm.

But things are looking up for the Eagles. Current Ohio State co-defensive coordinator Jeff Hafley was just named new head coach. He’ll stay with the Buckeyes through their current College Football Playoff run, but the hire presents an interesting storyline to the Birmingham Bowl with Fickell once serving in the same capacity in Columbus.

BC’s late-season win over the Panthers, combined with what seems like a great hire, should provide a sense of calm to a program that experienced plenty of ups and downs this season.

Plus, remember what happened last year? BC was set to play Boise State in the First Responder Bowl in Dallas before lightning cancelled the game. Extra motivation! With all these factors taken into account, I think a relatively close game will play out Jan. 2.

Pick: Boston College +7 (-110)

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