A New American Athletic Conference Champion is Set to be Crowned
There will be no 3-peat in the American Athletic Conference championship game as two-time defending champion Cincinnati did not reach the title tilt.
Tulane, coming off a two-win season, made a surprising run to the first title game appearance and that included a matchup against Cincinnati on the final day of the regular season with the winner moving onto the championship game. Now the AAC Championship Odds favor the Green Wave.
UCF, looking to become the first team to win three AAC title games before leaving for the Big 12, is back in the championship contest for the first time since 2018.
Tulane is ranked 18th in both national polls while UCF is 22nd in the Associated Press poll and 23rd in the American Football Coaches Association ranking. The winner of the game might secure the Group of Five conference’s spot in one of the New Year’s Day bowls.
Tulane moved up one spot to No. 18 in the latest College Football Playoff rankings while UCF remained at No. 22.
UCF 9-3 (6-2 in the AAC), Tulane 10-2 (7-1)
Date, time (TV):
Location: Yulman Stadium, New Orleans
Streaming: Live Stream Sports
After uncharacteristically finishing seventh in the conference in total offense during the 2021 season, UCF was back to having the best offense in the AAC. Still, the AAC championship odds list the Knights as the underdogs.
The arrival of quarterback John Rhys Plumlee has added a boost to the running game as he leads UCF with 848 rushing yards and he also has 13 touchdown passes to go with his 11 scoring runs.
RJ Harvey and Isaiah Bowser have combined for more than 1,400 rushing yards and 18 TD runs.
Mikey Keene is the better passer of the UCF quarterbacks. He is completing 72% of his passes with six TDs and an interception.
UCF has touchdowns on 36 of 57 drives into the red zone. The Knights scored TDs on just four of 11 red-zone drives in the three losses.
Jason Johnson leads the defense with 114 tackles. Tre’Mon Morris-Brash has six sacks and 12 tackles for loss.
If you are looking for a reason why Tulane defied the AAC championship odds by reaching the title game, start with one of the most improved defenses in the country.
Tulane was 10th in the conference a season ago when the Green Wave allowed 430 yards and 5.8 yards per play. Now Tulane is in the top 30 nationally in total defense, giving up 337 yards per game and 4.87 yards per play.
The top four tacklers are seniors with Dorian Williams (104 tackles, four sacks, two interceptions) and Nick Anderson (100 tackles) leading the way. Duke transfer Lummie Young IV has added some experience in the secondary while four sophomores and two freshmen have more than 20 tackles.
Michael Pratt, in his third season as the starting quarterback, has 21 TD passes and four interceptions and has added nine touchdown runs.
Tyjae Spears has run for 1,177 yards, the most for a Tulane back since Matt Forte’s 2,127 yards in 2007. Spears had 130 yards on just eight carries in the regular season matchup.
Tulane vs UCF Injury Update
When looking at the college football injury report, both teams are in pretty good shape.
Tight end Jordan Davis (ankle) and receiver Amari Johnson (leg) are out for UCF.
Running back Cameron Carroll (leg) is out for Tulane.
Tulane vs UCF Head to Head
UCF has won the last five meetings against Tulane and that includes a 38-31 win as a one-point underdog on the road on Nov. 12 when John Rhys Plumlee threw for one score and ran for two others. That game had a total of 57 and that is what Saturday’s matchup is currently showing as a total.
Three of the last four games in the series have been decided by seven points or less.
Tulane has covered in five of the last seven meetings.
This is the second game in a row when Tulane is favored against UCF after the Knights were listed as the favorite in the previous eight matchups.
Tulane vs UCF Betting Preview
The American Athletic Conference title game was a different feel to it since it is at the site of one of the participating teams rather than at a predetermined location.
Tulane has covered in the NCAAF picks against the spread in five of its seven home games this season while UCF is 3-2 against the spread on the road.
The total has gone over in nine of the Knights’ last 11 road games and in four of the last five Tulane home contests.
The teams were 16 for 30 on third downs in the regular-season meeting. Will the defenses offer more resistance in the rematch?
The line opened with Tulane favored by two points and it is now at -3.5.
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