2019 AAC win total picks, predictions: UCF, Memphis face biggest goals entering the season
What should we expect from the best Group of Five conference in the country?
The 2019 AAC season is set up to be one of the most historic in the history of the conference, as it will be the last year UConn is a member. OK, so maybe that's not historic. The talk surrounding the AAC this college football season will have a heavy focus on which school might replace UConn because it's actually an attractive conference to join.
UCF has helped the AAC reach a New Year's Six Bowl in each of the last two seasons, and the conference continues to widen the gap between itself and the remaining Group of Five conferences. Will that trend continue this season? I don't know. I can't predict the future, but I can try. So let's take a look at this season's win totals posted by FanDuel, and try to figure out which bets make the most sense with what we know now.
For those uninitiated on "prices," minus-odds of -120 mean you'd have to wager $120 to win $100, while plus-odds (+120) means wagering $100 would win you $120. An "EVEN" price would result in a $100 payout for a $100 wager. So it's not as simple as picking over or under. You have to consider the price you're paying on the bet. Let's get to it.
|6 wins: The Bearcats are coming off an 11-2 season, yet their win total for 2019 is set at only six. It makes sense, as they'll be facing a difficult schedule that includes both UCLA and Ohio State in nonconference and a road trip to Marshall that could prove tricky. In-conference, the Cats host UCF but will be on the road for Houston, USF and Memphis. Still, despite all of that, I think they're going to get to seven wins. So I like the over here, but I do not like that price, so I wouldn't bet it. (Over -225, Under +186)|
|3.5 wins: Can the Pirates get to four wins? They haven't done so since going 5-7 in 2015, winning three games each of the last three seasons. I'm not all that confident the Pirates will be able to do it this season, either. I see wins over Gardner-Webb and William & Mary, but considering the Pirates lost to North Carolina A&T last season, we can't assume it will happen. Also, ECU's picked up wins over Old Dominion and UConn last year, and play both again this year, with both of those games taking place on the road. I like the under here, particularly at the price. (Over -146, Under +124)|
|8 wins: Houston has been in the AAC for six seasons now. It has failed to win at least eight games in only one of those seasons (7-5 in 2017), so for that alone, I think we have a good "floor" here when considering the over. The Cougars have to replace Ed Oliver but still have D'Eriq King at quarterback, and that makes them dangerous. The problem is Houston has a difficult nonconference slate with games against Oklahoma, Washington State and even a tough road game against North Texas. It also gets UCF on the road, though at least Memphis comes to H-Town. I think we're in for a push here, but I would bet the over before the under. (Over -120, Under +102)|
|9 wins: Memphis has won 10 games in a season twice in its history, but those two seasons were recent, coming in 2014 and 2017. Can the Tigers do it again in 2019? While big names like Darrell Henderson and Tony Pollard are gone, the Tigers return a lot of production elsewhere, and I'm not worried about their offense; they're going to score points. The question is whether this defense can be counted on to help this team get to 10 wins. I'm skeptical, as I think nine wins is more likely the best-case scenario than the baseline, so I'm taking the under at this price. (Over -184, Under +154)|
|6 wins: Navy has been headed in the wrong direction. It joined the AAC in 2015 and won 11 games as the newest member. It followed that up with nine wins in 2016, seven in 2017 and only three last year. So to reach this over we'd need a four-win improvement, and with everything this team needs to replace, I'm more than a little skeptical. That's not to say that it can't happen, but with this schedule, the under seems like the right play here despite the heavy juice. (Over +132, Under -156)|
|6 wins: I don't have a great read on the Mustangs heading into 2019. They took a small step backward last season in Sonny Dykes' first year, but most of the key players from last year's team return in 2019. The nonconference won't be easy, though, and a road game against TCU headlines it. I think the pivotal stretch of this season will come in consecutive home games against Tulsa and Temple. If the Mustangs don't win both of those games, they're going to have a very tough time reaching seven wins. I think the push is the most likely outcome, but if choosing a side in what's essentially a coin flip, I'll take the one with the better price. Give me the under. (Over -114, Under -102)|
|8 wins: The Bulls went from 10 wins in Charlie Strong's first season to only seven last year, and according to some advanced metrics, they weren't nearly as good as their record suggests. So it's hard to know what to expect in 2019. Most everybody is back on offense, but the defense must replace a lot of key parts, and Wisconsin, Georgia Tech and BYU are three tough nonconference games. In AAC play, the Bulls will be on the road for UCF but do get Temple, Cincinnati and Memphis at home. The problem is that Temple, Cincinnati, Memphis and UCF all come in consecutive weeks to finish the season. That's a hell of a tough way to finish, and it makes the under more appealing of a play. (Over -120, Under +102)|
|6.5 wins: Geoff Collins has left for Georgia Tech, and Rod Carey has come from Northern Illinois to take his place. While I think there are enough similarities between what Temple had already been doing and what Carey prefers to do that the adjustment shouldn't be too difficult, we still can't know for sure. Ironically enough, when I look at this schedule, it's that game against Collins and Georgia Tech that seems to be the fulcrum for the over or under. I'm leaning under, but I'm not very confident in the pick. (Over -108, Under -108)|
|5.5 wins: I'm a fan of Willie Fritz, was high on the Wave last season and things ended up going well enough. Tulane has improved its win total in each of Fritz's seasons, and entering his fourth, everything should be in place for another step forward. Whether that means an increase in last year's seven wins -- I'm not sure. The Wave face a difficult schedule, having to play FIU, Auburn, Houston, Army, Memphis and UCF. Still, I think they squeeze out six wins, but I'm not confident enough to bet it at this price. (Over -166, Under +140)|
|4.5 wins: Tulsa won 10 games in 2016, and has won only five games since. So can it get to five wins this season? I'm not sure. I think Tulsa is going to be a better team this year than it was in 2018, but the schedule isn't friendly. I can see it beating San Jose State, Wyoming, Navy and East Carolina. But where is that fifth win coming? The Hurricane are at home against Oklahoma State, Memphis, UCF and Houston, and will be on the road for Michigan State, SMU, Cincinnati and Tulane. SMU and Tulane seem like possible candidates, but both being on the road makes it more difficult. So I'm going to take the under here. (Over +112, Under -130)|
|9.5 wins: I think UCF will take a step backward this season. There's too much to replace not to expect some regression. Still, I don't know that the step back will be large enough to take the under here. The Knights might not win 12 or 13 games again, but I think they can get to 10 pretty easily as they're still the best team in the AAC. (Over -108, Under -108)|
|2.5 wins: How are we supposed to know what UConn is going to do? The Huskies coming off what might have been the worst season in history from an FBS program last year, and are now entering a lame duck season. Maybe the team rallies around the idea, or maybe they use it as an excuse not to care. We don't know. Either way, given what we've seen from the Huskies the last few years, it's nearly impossible to take this over. Take the under. (Over +106, Under -124)|
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