Potential MAC Title: NCAAF Group of 5 Conference Championship Odds

Three American Athletic Conference Matchups Among Key Group of 5 Showdowns

Group of Five Conference Races are Starting to Heat Up

When looking at the NCAAF Group of 5 odds, there are first-place showdowns in the Sun Belt West Division, a matchup of Mid-American Conference division leaders and a battle for first place in the Conference USA. However, when it comes to the most compelling NCAAF matchups for teams outside of the Power-5 conferences, it is hard to top what will be taking place in the American Athletic Conference with three key contests on tap in Week 8.

There are 20 games involving teams from the Group of Five conference with college football betting lines of seven points or less so this could be a fun week for people looking for games outside the major conferences.

No. 21 Cincinnati and No. 25 Tulane are the only teams from the Group of Five conferences in the Associated Press Top 25 poll heading into College Football Week 8.

Game of the Week

Game Info:

Game: Toledo Rockets vs Buffalo Bulls
Date & Time & Streaming
Line: Toledo -7

A showdown of division leaders in the Mid-American Conference is set for Saturday afternoon. People think of high-flying offenses when it comes to the MAC but both of these teams have potential to stop people.

Toledo Rockets (5-2, 3-0) is second in the MAC with an average of 359 yards allowed per game with the 5.03 yards per play allowed is the best in the MAC.

Buffalo Bulls (4-3, 3-0) has allowed just eight touchdown passes, the fewest in the MAC and is one of two teams in the conference to keep opponents to a completion percentage under 60.

Buffalo’s Shaun Dolac is tied for sixth nationally with 73 tackles. When looking at the NCAAF Group of 5 odds, this is the Week 8 game that could top all the others.

Other Games to Watch

Game Info:

Game: Troy Trojans vs South Alabama Jaguars
Date & Time & Streaming:
Line: South Alabama -3

It will be strength against strength with Troy’s defense, second in the Sun Belt by allowing 4.76 yards per play going against a South Alabama team that is third in the conference with 462.2 yards per game.

The Jaguars (5-1, 2-0) are averaging nearly 100 more yards per game than they did a season ago. Toledo transfer Carter Bradley is completing 64% of his passes for 1,676 yards with 13 touchdowns and four interceptions. Caullin Lacy, Jalen Wayne and Devin Voisin have more than 25 receptions and have combined for nine TD catches.

T.J. Jackson and Richard Jibunor have 5.5 and 4 sacks to lead the defense for Troy (5-2, 3-1). Troy Trojans quarterback Gunnar Watson does have more interceptions than TD passes, but he has thrown for 1,691 yards.

Troy has won the last four games against South Alabama and covered against the college football scores and odds in each of those matchups.

Game Info:

Game: Cincinnati Bearcats vs Southern Methodist Mustangs
Date & Time & Streaming:
Line: Cincinnati -3

Cincinnati’s offense has taken a hit following the departures of key playmakers to the NFL. However, the defense is still among the best in the American Athletic Conference.

Cincinnati Bearcats (5-1, 2-0) have won 17 straight games against AAC teams. Is that streak going to be in jeopardy against an SMU team that leads the conference with an average of 351.8 passing yards per game?

SMU quarterback Tanner Mordecai was held to 66 passing yards and 2.5 yards per completion in last year’s loss to Cincinnati and will look to bounce back in this matchup.

Expect to see plenty of receiver Rashee Rice, who ranks in the top three with 8.2 catches per game and 126.8 receiving yards per contest for the Mustangs (3-3, 1-1).

The issue for SMU is on the other side of the ball as the Mustangs allow 432.3 yards per game.

Cincinnati has outscored SMU 90-27 in the last two games.

Game Info:

Game: Memphis Tigers vs Tulane Green Wave
Date & Time & Streaming:
Line: Tulane -7

There were plenty of teams given a chance to challenge for the American Athletic Conference title. However, Tulane Green Wave wasn’t among them after winning just one conference game a season ago.

Tulane has gone from ranking 10th in the conference in total defense, giving up nearly 430 yards per game and 5.8 yards per play, to seeing those numbers drop from 299.1 yards and 4.68 yards per play.

It helps that the top five tacklers are seniors with Dorian Williams, Nick Anderson and Larry Brooks ranking seventh, eighth and 11th in the conference in tackles.

The Green Wave will look to slow down Memphis Tigers quarterback Seth Henigan as he is third in the conference with 1,924 passing yards.

Quindell Johnson has a conference-best three interceptions for the Tigers (4-3, 2-2).

Memphis has won 13 of the last 15 games against Tulane. An average of 65.4 points have been scored in the last five meetings.

Game Info:

Game: UCF Knights vs East Carolina Pirates
Date & Time & Streaming:
Line: UCF -5

Two of the top three rushers in the American Athletic Conference will be headliners in this showdown and that alone is one to watch when looking at the NCAAF Group of 5 odds.

East Carolina’s Keaton Mitchell has 582 yards on 6.9 yards per carry while UCF quarterback John Rhys Plumlee has 468 yards to go with seven TD runs.

East Carolina (4-3, 2-2) ranks second and UCF Knights (5-1, 2-0) is fourth in the AAC in rushing defense. Both teams can also throw the ball as they have combined for 28 TD passes and eight interceptions.

UCF has won six games in a row in the series. However,  East Carolina has covered in each of the last three meetings.

Game Info:

Game: Brigham Young Cougars vs Liberty Flames
Date & Time & Streaming:
Line: Brigham Young -6.5

BYU (4-3) and Liberty (6-1) combine for nearly 64 passing attempts per game. Plenty of eyes will be on BYU’s Jaren Hall, one of the top quarterback prospects in the 2023 NFL Draft. For Liberty, Kaidon Salter and Johnathan Bennett have struggled with consistency in their first season replacing Malik Willis. Demario Douglas (34 catches, 546 yards) is the top receiver.

BYU hasn’t fared well defending either the pass or the run. Facing a schedule with games against Baylor, Oregon, Notre Dame and Arkansas might have something to do with that.

Other than a matchup with Wake Forest, the Liberty schedule hasn’t been quite as challenging. Liberty Flames has held opponents to less than five yards per play in four of the last five games.

Game Info:

Game: Boise State Broncos vs Air Force Falcons
Date & Time & Streaming:
Line: Air Force -3.5

The running games will control this Mountain West showdown. Air Force Falcons (5-2, 2-2 in the Mountain West) leads the country with an average of 359.9 rushing yards per game. Boise State Broncos (4-2, 3-0) is second in the conference with 185.5 yards a game on the ground.

The Broncos have the best rushing defense in the Mountain West, giving up only 101.3 yards per contest. Linebacker DJ Schramm leads the defense with 49 tackles.

Air Force snapped a four-game losing streak to Boise State with a 24-17 win on the road in 2021 as a three-point underdog.

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