2022 AAC Title Odds, Predictions and Conference Preview

2022 AAC Title Odds, Predictions and Conference Preview

Luke Fickell and Cincinnati are the repeat favorites in the 2022 AAC Title odds

I only covered one Bearcats game this season and was so fortunate it was in New Orleans, my former home. I was excited to see the University of Cincinnati Bearcats head coach Luke Fickell and his team take the field to face Tulane University at Yulman Stadium in October and win 31-12.

Cara Fav 2

Two-time defending champion Cincinnati is a slight favorite to three-peat as AAC champion in 2022
Houston and Central Florida are the only other teams given much of a chance to unseat the Bearcats
Read below for 2022 AAC Title odds, analysis, and betting prediction for the upcoming season

Cincinnati is a small favorite to win its third straight AAC title in 2022 after becoming the first Group of Five team to make the College Football Playoff in 2021, when it finished fourth in the final AP poll. The Bearcats were 14-0 in the AAC in 2020-21 after losing one regular-season game in 2019.

Houston and Cincinnati finished 8-0 in the AAC in 2021, with the Bearcats winning the championship game 35-20 at home in Nippert Stadium. The two will miss each other again in the league’s unbalanced eight-game regular-season schedule this season.

Let’s take a look at the 2022 AAC Title odds and offer you our official pick for the upcoming season.

2022 AAC Championship Odds

Team
Odds
Cincinnati Bearcats
+190
Houston Cougars
+250
UCF Knights
+320
SMU Mustangs
+1000
Memphis Tigers
+1200
East Carolina Pirates
+2000
Tulsa Hurricane
+3000
Tulane Green Wave
+4500
South Florida Bulls
+5500
Navy Midshipmen
+8000
Temple Owls
+20000

Odds as of Aug. 8 at DraftKings Sportsbook. Claim this DraftKings Sportsbook promo code before wagering. 

 

 

The AAC has only one division, and the championship game in the 11-team league will match the top two regular-season finishers at the site of the No. 1 team.

The league appears wide open at the top. Houston received seven first-place votes and 243 points in the preseason media poll. Cincinnati received 10 first-place votes and 242 points and UCF received seven first-place points and 225 points.

Bearcats Reach Higher Ground

Luke Fickell has turned the Cincinnati program into a contender in the National Championship odds in his five seasons. After losing eight games in his first season, Fickell is 44-7.  All seven losses have been away from home, and they included defeats to Top 10 teams Alabama (27-13 in the Cotton Bowl national semifinal game last year), Ohio State and Georgia.

It is no surprise the Bearcats are favored again, although they face a major skill-position makeover. Gone is four-year starting quarterback Desmond Ridder (44-6 as a starter;12,419 career passing/rushing yards), leading rusher Jerome Ford and dynamic cornerbacks Sauce Gardner and  Coby Bryant.

Gardner, the fourth player taken in the NFL draft, did not yield a touchdown pass in more than 1,000 career targets and was a first-team All-American the last two seasons. Bryant won the Jim Thorpe Award. The 2022 roster, however, doesn’t feature any contenders in the Heisman odds.

Still, 13 starters return to a team that has a strong winning culture. Sophomore Evan Prater, Ridder’s backup in 2021, is the favorite to win the starting spot over Ben Bryant.  Returned Bryant started his career at Cincinnati before transferring to Eastern Michigan, where he passed for 3,121 yards. Linebacker DeShawn Pace is on the preseason Butkus, Nagurski and Bednarik watch lists.

Can Houston Take Final Step?

The Cougars have the most efficient returning quarterback in the AAC in Clayton Tune, who is not an elite athlete but whose precision passing helped Houston to an 11-game winning streak around a season-opening loss to Texas Tech and the loss to Cincinnati in the AAC title game a year ago.

Tune completed a league-high 68.3 percent of his passes with 30 touchdowns, and top NFL prospect receiver Nathaniel Dell (90 receptions, 1,329 yards, 12 touchdowns) is also back.

Arguably CFB’s most explosive player this year will be Tank Dell (@Tankdell4) for @UHCougarFB. ELITE twitch/vision as a runner, and he’s become a complete route running WR.

Watched him work w/@ClaytonTune7 in LA 2 weeks ago. Connection should be SPECIAL again in 2022 #ShrineBowl pic.twitter.com/9DwYDEwkda

— Eric Galko (@EricGalko) June 21, 2022

It is not all rosy. No. 1 running back Alton McCaskill, the 2021 AAC Rookie of the Year, suffered a torn ACL in spring practice, and Ta’Zhawn Henry will take over. A bigger loss will be cornerback/kick returner Marcus Jones, who had five interceptions a year ago and tied an NCAA career record with nine kick returns for touchdowns.

The Cougars miss both Cincinnati and UCF, giving them the easiest path to the title game. Houston’s easy schedule is one of the reasons they’re closing in on the Bearcats as the AAC favorite in the conference title odds.

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Other AAC Title Contenders

Central Florida ruled the league in 2017-18, and second-year coach  Gus Malzahn returns 16 starters to a team that lost starting quarterback Dillon Gabriel to Oklahoma in the Sooners’ quarterback shuffle. The Knights gained former Ole Miss runner/passer John Rhys Plumlee, who expected to win the competition over Mikey Keene.

“Right now it’s as even as it can get,” #UCF coach Gus Malzahn says on the QB battle between John Rhys Plumlee and Mikey Keene entering fall camp. “The good thing is, we have two guys we can win with… Hopefully we can name a starter sooner rather than later.”

— Jason Beede (@therealBeede) July 28, 2022

SMU returns Oklahoma transfer quarterback Tanner Mordecai, who led the AAC with 3,628 yards and 39 touchdown passes. The Mustangs came within a 100-yard kickoff return by Jones with 14 seconds remaining of beating Houston in a season-defining 44-37 road loss on Oct. 30. They lost four of the next five, and coach Sonny Dykes left for TCU immediately after the season.

East Carolina is the resident AAC sleeper. Senior starter quarterback Holton Ahlers has passed for 10,219 yards in his career, although he has thrown 29 interceptions in the last three years. The Pirates have a run-first mindset, however, with halfbacks Keaton Mitchell  (1,132 yards rushing, 6.5 average) and Rahjai Harris the primary ball-carriers.

You’ve had some time to look over the Preseason Watch List.

So which QBs did we miss? And who you think we will be adding to our Midseason Watch List as the 2022 season rolls along?#DaveyQBs pic.twitter.com/czqPdYeEMy

— Davey O’Brien National Quarterback Award (@daveyobrien) July 19, 2022

Memphis has eight straight bowl invitations (the 2021 Hawaii Bowl was cancelled because of COVID-19 in the Hawaii program), the best among Power Five programs, and returns quarterback Seth Henigan, who threw for 3,322 yards and 25 touchdowns as a true freshman.

2022 AAC Title Odds Pick & Prediction

In a league race that could be decided by who you don’t play, the Cougars have the easiest schedule and a tested quarterback. The heralded defensive line known as “Sack Avenue” has lost three NFL draft picks in the last four seasons but appears stocked again.

Given the roster talent and schedule, Houston to win the AAC at +250 is a great preseason wager to make. A $100 wager on the Cougars would payout $350 if Dana Holgorsen’s team is able to take that next step in 2022.

The pick: Houston (+250)

 

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Jack Magruder

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Jack has covered college and professional sports for various Arizona media outlets since the 1980s and has written for the Associated Press, USA Today and Baseball America, among others. He staffed the 2015-17 World Series and has staffed four Super Bowls.

NFL
NBA
MLB
NHL
NCAAF
NCAAB
Politics

Jack has covered college and professional sports for various Arizona media outlets since the 1980s and has written for the Associated Press, USA Today and Baseball America, among others. He staffed the 2015-17 World Series and has staffed four Super Bowls.

Author: Jesse Smith