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The Cincinnati Bearcats have waited for what must seem like an eternity to kick off the 2014 season. They’ll get that opportunity when the Toledo Rockets come to town. Friday’s game will mark the long-awaited debut of quarterback Gunner Kiel as the Bearcats have lofty goals in the American Athletic Conference. The Rockets have quarterback anxiety, but of a much different kind.

Toledo v. Cincinnati College Football Preview

Date/Time: Friday September 12, 7:00 p.m. ET

TV: ESPNU

College Football Betting Odds from WagerWeb

College Football Betting Favorite: Cincinnati -11

Total: OFF

Cincinnati has yet to play a game this season, so the Bearcats have no record to speak of. Tommy Tuberville’s 9-4 straight up, but just 6-7 against the number last season. Tuberville was 21-17 SU/17-20-1 ATS at Texas Tech from 2010-12 and 47-16 SU/30-28-1 ATS in his last five seasons at Auburn from 2004-08. Matt Campbell’s Rockets are 1-1 SU/ATS this season and Campbell is 17-10 SU and 16-11 ATS. Campbell is 7-1 ATS as a road underdog with Toledo.

Toledo Rockets:

Excitement was high regarding the Toledo offense under the direction of Alabama transfer Phillip Ely, but Ely suffered a torn ACL in the team’s 49-24 loss to Toledo and his season is over. The job will be taken over by true sophomore Logan Woodside, who lost the quarterback competition before the season and had 41 passing attempts in relief of Terrance Owens last season. The Rockets may have to rely heavily on their defense in this game, including a terrific linebacking corps of Junior Sylvestre, Trent Voss, and Chase Murdock. Toledo returned 16 starters, including nine on defense, so this is an experienced team that shouldn’t be bothered by the atmosphere at Paul Brown Stadium. The Rockets are strong in the trenches, which could be a factor in this game.

Cincinnati Bearcats:

The spotlight will be on Notre Dame transfer Gunner Kiel as he makes his first collegiate start for the Bearcats. At 6’4”, 208 lbs., Kiel shows good mobility and a strong arm. Three of Cincinnati’s five offensive linemen and most of their key skill position guys return, so Kiel certainly has the talent necessary to be successful. Munchie Legaux could also be used in some two-QB packages to confuse the defense and Tuberville could use this first game to get creative. Defensively, the Bearcats return six starters have not allowed more than 21 points per game since 2010. There are two returning starters in each position group, so there’s experience throughout the defense. Despite the loss of last season’s defensive coordinator, there shouldn’t be a drop-off because in-house coaches were promoted to co-defensive coordinator.

Free Pick: Cincinnati Bearcats -11

The Bearcats have been waiting for this game for a long time and they enter this game healthy with the double bye to start the season. The Rockets have to go without their starting quarterback into a hostile road environment. The Bearcats won by a combined score of 108-16 in their first two home games last season and, while they play a better team, they’ll look to make some noise early in Kiel’s first game.

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