- Can Houston or UCF end Cincinnati's run atop the American Athletic Conference?
- Cincinnati Bearcats (+180 to win conference title)
- Houston Cougars (+225 to win conference title)
- UCF Knights (+300 to win conference title)
- Memphis Tigers (+1400 to win conference title)
- Southern Methodist Mustangs (+1000 to win conference title)
- East Carolina Pirates (+2500 to win conference title)
- Tulsa Golden Hurricanes (+3300 to win conference title)
- Tulane Green Wave (+4000 to win conference title)
- South Florida Bulls (+6000 to win conference title)
- Navy Midshipmen (+8000 to win conference title)
- Temple Owls (+20000 to win conference title)
Can Houston or UCF end Cincinnati’s Run Atop the American Athletic Conference?
Consider this the calm before the storm in the American Athletic Conference. Cincinnati, Houston, and UCF are considered to be the top three title contenders. They also happen to be leading the Big 12. Let’s take a look at the AAC regular season odds.
With the incredible run by Cincinnati that resulted in the Bearcats earning a spot in the College Football Playoff field and Houston not far behind Cincinnati, it will be hard for the conference to top what was accomplished a season ago.
Cincinnati is tied for 24th in the odds to win the national championship while Houston is tied for 43rd.
Even before the ACC college football schedule gets rolling, there will be some intriguing Week 1 matchups featuring American Athletic Conference teams, including East Carolina meeting North Carolina State, Cincinnati facing Arkansas and Memphis set to play Mississippi State.
Here is the team-by-team breakdown in the American Athletic Conference
Cincinnati Bearcats (+180 to win conference title)
Cincinnati is not expected to be quite as powerful as last year’s team. However, the Bearcats still have -145 odds to go over the expected regular season win total of nine.
Cincinnati made history by being the first team, not in a Power-5 Conference (not named Notre Dame) to earn a spot in the College Football Playoff field. Now there are plenty of holes to fill, but not enough to prevent Cincinnati from topping the AAC regular season odds.
Nine players were selected in the 2022 NFL Draft, led by cornerback Ahmed “Sauce” Gardner. The offense will look much different without quarterback Desmond Ridder, running back Jerome Ford, and receiver Alec Pierce.
Linebackers Bryan Cook and Darrian Beavers, defensive linemen Myjai Sanders, Curtis Brooks, and cornerback Coby Bryant were also drafted. Linebacker Deshawn Pace is coming off a season with 95 tackles and four interceptions.
Houston Cougars (+225 to win conference title)
Houston is showing a Moneyline of -135 to go over nine wins during the regular season. The Cougars’ odds to win the AAC title have been holding steady at +225 according to the AAC regular season odds.
Quarterback Clayton Tune completed 68% of his passes for 3546 yards and 30 touchdowns. Nathaniel Dell was his favorite receiver as he finished his sophomore season with 1329 yards on 90 catches. Keep an eye on the updates on star running back Alton McCaskill, who tore his ACL in the spring.
The defense will certainly love defensive back Marcus Jones, who was also one of the most dynamic returners in the country, and defensive lineman Logan Hall as they were both selected in April’s NFL Draft.
UCF Knights (+300 to win conference title)
Are the Knights ready to return to the top of the conference? The expected win total is set at 8.5 during the regular season with the odds at -150 to go over that mark. The odds to win the conference title have moved from +350 to +300 in the last month.
Mikey Keene had 17 touchdown passes after replacing injured starting quarterback Dillon Gabriel. Ryan O’Keefe also returns after leading the Knights with 84 catches and 812 receiving yards. The running game should be in good shape with Johnny Richardson and Isaiah Bowser both coming back.
Cornerback Davonte Brown, safety Divaad Wilson, and linemen Tre’mon Morris-Brash and Ricky Barber will lead the defense. It is no wonder that the AAC college football Conference odds view the Knights as a contender once again.
Memphis Tigers (+1400 to win conference title)
While it won’t be easy to play receiver Calvin Austin, Seth Henigan figures to be one of the top quarterbacks in the conference. He threw for 3322 yards and 25 touchdowns a season ago. He won’t have to do it all by himself. Jay Drucker comes in after rushing for 1184 yards as a freshman at Northern Illinois.
Safety Quindell Johnson (104 tackles) returns to lead the defense.
Memphis was 2-5 against the spread in the final seven games of the 2021 season.
Southern Methodist Mustangs (+1000 to win conference title)
SMU should be able to put up the yards and the points in Rhett Lashlee’s first season at the head coach thanks to the return of quarterback Tanner Mordecai, who completed 68% of his passes with 3628 yards and 39 touchdowns, and receiver Rashee Rice (64 catches, 670 yards). Receivers Danny Gray and Reggie Roberson as well as tight end Grant Calcaterra are off to the NFL.
The defense could be a work in progress, but keep an eye on defensive linemen Elijah Chatman and DeVere Levelston. If that unit comes together, the expected regular-season win total of seven will be easy pickings for the Mustangs.
The Mustangs failed to cover in four of their last five games a season ago.
East Carolina Pirates (+2500 to win conference title)
The projections have East Carolina flirting with bowl eligibility with the expected regular-season win total at six. The odds are at -125 for the Pirates to go over that number and -105 to finish under. The AAC title odds have tumbled from +2200 to +2500.
Running back Keaton Mitchell burst onto the scene and ran for 1132 yards as a redshirt freshman. Tight end Ryan Jones and quarterback Holton Ahlers are other top offensive players.
Cornerback Malik Fleming (34 tackles, nine pass breakups) and linebackers Jeremy Lewis and Xavier Smith will be players to watch on defense.
Tulsa Golden Hurricanes (+3300 to win conference title)
Tulsa also comes in with an expected win total of six. Unlike East Carolina, the Golden Hurricanes have much better odds (-140) to go under that total than to go over (+110).
Tulsa will miss NFL first-round draft pick, Tyler Smith, on the offensive line. Sincere Haynesworth and Gerard Wheeler will be key players on the line. Receiver Juan Carlos Santana (50 catches, 674 yards) is also coming back.
Leading tackler Justin Wright (82 tackles) is also returning while Tulsa could have the best kicking game in the AAC with the return of kicker Zack Long and punter Lachlan Wilson.
Tulane Green Wave (+4000 to win conference title)
Tulane’s expected win total is six as well with the Moneyline currently at -130 to finish under that number.
Quarterback Michael Pratt and running back Tyjae Spears return to lead the offense while linebacker Darius Hodges and Nick Anderson will be key contributors on defense.
South Florida Bulls (+6000 to win conference title)
Jaren Mangham ran for 15 touchdowns in 2021 after transferring in from Colorado. Leading receiver Xavier Weaver (715 yards on 41 catches) also returns as does leading tackler Antonio Grier (92 tackles, nine tackles for loss, two interceptions). However, USF is still coming in with an expected win total of 4.5 with -130 odds to fall under that total. The odds to win the conference title have improved from +6600 to +6000 in the last few weeks.
Navy Midshipmen (+8000 to win conference title)
Navy also comes in with an expected win total of 4.5 with -140 odds to finish with four wins or less.
Quarterback Tai Lavatai is back, but the other ball carriers in the option offense have moved on. Kip Frankland will lead the offensive line while John Marshall (54 tackles) returns to lead the defense.
Navy was 8-2 against the spread in the final 10 games of the 2021 campaign.
Temple Owls (+20000 to win conference title)
The good news is that the Moneyline is at -150 for Temple to top its projected win total. The bad news is that number is set at just 2.5 victories.
Defensive backs Keyshawn Paul and Cameron Ruiz are key returnees on defense.
Quarterback D’Wan Mathis is back for a Temple offense that was the only one in the AAC to average less than 20 points per game in 2021.Follow us on Twitter