Eastern Kentucky at Cincinnati odds preview: Point spread, prediction for Week 1 matchup

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Bearcat, the Cincinnati mascot, center, dances during an introduction for head coach Scott Satterfield at the NCAA college football Big 12 media days in Arlington, Texas, Thursday, July 13, 2023. (AP Photo/Emil T. Lippe)

The Cincinnati Bearcats are set to enter a new era for their football program during the 2023 campaign. It all begins on Saturday when Cincinnati hosts Eastern Kentucky at 3:30 p.m. ET for the season opener.

Saturday’s Week 1 matchup marks the debut for Bearcats head coach Scott Satterfield, who replaced Luke Fickell in the offseason to become the 43rd different head coach in program history. Satterfield was 76-48 in 10 years as head coach at Louisville and Appalachian State, earning a winning record in seven seasons to go along with a 4-1 clip in bowl games.

In addition, this will be the start of Cincinnati’s Big 12 tenure. While not playing a conference foe this weekend, the Bearcats will represent the Big 12 during a Week 1 nonconference slate where all 14 teams are in action. UCF, which is one of four Big 12 newcomers along with Cincinnati, started things off with a 55-6 victory over Kent State on Thursday.

Cincinnati, which is coming off a 9-4 season, should also dominate its tune-up game to begin the 2023 season. Eastern Kentucky is an FCS school that went 7-5 last season but knocked off Bowling Green for its seventh FBS victory.

Because of the FCS competition, betting lines haven’t been released for Saturday’s game as of this writing and likely won’t be available until closer to kickoff.

Let’s take a closer look at the odds and trends:

Cincinnati vs. Eastern Kentucky

Time/TV: 3:30 p.m. ET (ESPN+)

Point spread (from FanDuel): No line

Moneyline: No odds

Over/under: Not available

Analysis: While the betting market can’t tell us what to expect, it’s unlikely that this game will be particularly close. Bill Connelly’s SP+ is projecting a 40-16 affair, giving the Bearcats a 91% chance of victory in Week 1.

What is interesting about this game is just what Cincinnati will look like during this transition. The Bearcats have 33 new scholarship players while bringing back one returning offensive starter in center Gavin Gerhardt.

Emory Jones is expected to get the nod at quarterback for Cincinnati, which marks the third different Power Five program he has played for. Jones, who began his career with Florida in 2018, spent the last two seasons with Arizona State. He has thrown for 4,880 yards and 33 touchdowns on 631 attempts in his collegiate career.

Given all the newness, there could be some growing pains for the Bearcats. It might not show up in Week 1, but the opener could be a tad closer than most expect.

Prediction: Cincinnati 38, Eastern Kentucky 13

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