The American Athletic Conference begins play for the first time in 2013 and will undergo more changes in the seasons to come. The conference could very well see both a team in the BCS Title game in Louisville and a Heisman Trophy winner in Teddy Bridgewater.
Cincinnati 9 (-105 over/-125 under) – I’m not the biggest Tommy Tuberville fan but he does field competetive teams. He’ll have two senior QBs to work with this season in Munchie Legaux and Brandon Kay who will start the opener. All three non-conference games are winnable. They open with Purdue at homne and then go to Illinois. Both Big Ten teams, but bottom-dwellers. The AAC will be decided when the Bearcats host Lousiville in the season finale in December. I like the over for Cincy.
UConn 5.5 (-145 over/+115 under) – The Huskies were a disappointing 5-7 last year and face a schedule that could cause serious problems. They get Michigan, Louisville and South Florida at home but must hit the road for games at Cincinnati, UCF and SMU. I think UConn will struggle to get to five wins this year. I like the under.
Houston 5.5 (-175 over/+145 under) – QB David Piland returns to lead the 11th best passing offense in the nation. The Cougars finished a disappointing 5-7 last year and now enter AAC play trying to stay out of the bottom half. They should get three wins in four non-conference games with the loss probably coming to BYU. They have to go to UCF, Rutgers and Louisville and all three could be troublesome. I do like them to get to six wins though.
Louisville 11 (+170 over/-210 under) – The Cards return QB Teddy Bridgewater and a team still riding the wave of a Sugar Bowl win over Florida. There are two big games on the schedule that could keep this team from going unbeaten. Louisville plays at rival Kentucky and at Cincy in the season finale December fifth. I would also caution them with Ohio in the season-opener although I believe they’ll win that game. The Cards are the favorites to win the AAC but I think they’ll stumble because of high expectations. 11 is the correct number.
Memphis 4.5 (-140 over/+110 over) – The Tigers had one of the worst passing offenses in the country last year and the running game wasn’t much better. Giving up 30 points a game didn’t help either. They should go 2-2 in non-conference play but have to go to South Florida, UConn and Lousiville. I have to take the under.
Rutgers 7 (EVEN over/-130 under) – The Scarlet Knights have one final season before they head to the Big Ten in 2014. If they are to make any noise in the AAC they’ll need to ride a top-notch defense and get improved numbers from the offense. They have a three-game stretch that could be troublesome with Arkansas coming in and then road trips to SMU and Louisville. I think Rutgers gets to eight wins.
South Florida 5.5 (-135 over/+105 over) – The Bulls have a very difficult non-conference schedule with a trip to Michigan State and then Miami, FL at home. Last year’s 3-9 record cannot sit well South Florida and they do get Louisville and Cincinnati at home but getting to six wins may prove difficult. I’m taking the under.
SMU 5.5 (+120 over/-150 under) – The Mustangs must replace 1,200 yard rusher Zach Line but do have QB Garrett Gilbert back to run June Jones’ offense. The schedule is not favorable however. They have Texas Tech at home and #7 Texas A&M and #20 TCU on the road. They do have the good fortune of missing Lousiville in the AAC rotation which could help them over the hump. I like them to get over in 2013.
Temple 4.5 (+105 over/-135 under) – The Owls come off a 4-7 record and open with Notre Dame in South Bend. They have a five week stretch that concerns me a lot though when they get Louisville, Cincy, Army, SMU and Rutgers in successive weeks. Only the Cardinals and Blakc Knights are at home. I’m leaning towards the under.
Central Florida 8 (+145 over/-175 under) – The Golden Knights were 10-4 last season and that number is going to be a little more difficult to get to in 2013. They have to travel to Penn State, #9 Louisville and SMU and get #6 South Carolina at home. I like UCF to get to nine wins this season.