2013 American Athletic Predictions and College Football Futures Odds
by Robert Ferringo - 8/14/2013
I can’t believe its over.
The Big East is no more. The generically-sounding American Athletic Conference has picked up the pieces of the shattered B-East, added in rejects from Conference USA, and thrown them together to create this Franken-fiasco of a college football conference. The league will not have a title game but was able to inherit the Big East’s automatic BCS bowl berth. Despite that, I expect this conference to be completely ignored on the national level for most of the season.
Big East football was forever underrated. Over the past 10 years it boasted the top nonconference record of any league in the country against the spread, and Big East teams were always money as underdogs against teams from the ACC and Big Ten. That level of consistency and reliability is hard to come by in gambling – especially college football gambling – and it will be missed.
RIP Big East.
Here is a look at my 2013 American Athletic Conference predictions and college football futures odds, with the college football odds courtesy of Bovada:
The Favorite: Louisville (-175)
The Cardinals are one of the largest favorites in the country to win their conference, and for great reason. This team went 11-2 and finished ranked No. 13 in the country last year, a breakout performance for coach Charlie Strong, and they start the 2013 season No. 9. Strong, the former Florida defensive coordinator, has chiseled a rock-solid group in Kentucky, and they are building on one of the top defenses in football. The Cardinals have 14 of their top 16 tacklers from that group back in the fold and should post a Top-20 group. Quarterback Teddy Bridgewater is getting some fringe Heisman hype. But if Louisville is going to fulfill its marginal National Championship hopes, they will need the offense to be much more effective. The Cardinals were just No. 52 in total yards and No. 51 in points scored. And if this Cardinals team is going to be able to cover the mammoth spreads they will likely be shackled with this year, Bridgewater is going to have to step his game up.
The Challenger: Cincinnati (+400)
New coach Tommy Tuberville inherits one of the most underrated and undervalued programs in the nation. The Bearcats have posted double-digit wins in five of the past six years and are a solid 20-6 straight up and 19-8 against the spread in the past two seasons. Former coach Butch Jones bolted to Tennessee, and now Tuberville has a chance to rebuild his reputation after a weak showing at Texas Tech. The Bearcats have seven starters back on offense, including a pair of competent quarterbacks and one of the best offensive lines in the league. And this program has been able to find talent on defense, so I’m not worried about that side of the ball. Cincinnati hosts Louisville on Dec. 5 in what could be a de facto AAC title game.
The Dark Horse: Connecticut (+3300)
I am a little higher on the Huskies than a lot of people. After several seasons of overachieving under Randy Edsall (why did he ever leave?), the Huskies could sneak up on some people in the AAC this year. The Huskies boast a defense that finished No. 8 in the nation in total yards and No. 19 in points allowed last season. But the major question about this team is at quarterback. The Huskies have received some of the worst quarterback play that I have ever seen these past two years. It looks like they are going to keep banging their head against the wall with three-year starter Chandler Whitmer. If the lights click on, the Huskies could take off. But at this point Whitmer looks like a bona fide loser. Connecticut hosts Michigan, Louisville and Rutgers this season, and they avoid Houston in league play. Their league season may be defined by how they hold up in October, but I will be surprised if this team doesn’t go bowling after a two-year postseason hiatus.
The X-Factor: Central Florida (+750)
The Knights would’ve fit right in with the Big East the last few years. George O’Leary’s charges play a physical brand of football, and teams from bigger conferences won't push Central Florida around. UCF dominated CUSA in 2012 and 2010, going 15-3 SU in those seasons. They have 12 starters back from the team that lost in OT at Tulsa in the league championship game last year. That includes crafty quarterback Blake Bortles and a heavy offensive line. Central Florida’s defense will prefer to face the ground-and-pound Big East offenses, and I could see their numbers on that side improving as well. And this team has a shot at some national respect with nonconference games against Penn State and South Carolina. They get a bye week before a trip to Louisville on Oct. 18. Beyond that they get all of their toughest games at home. I don’t think they have the depth to hold on for a division title. But with November home games against Houston, Rutgers and South Florida, the Knights will have a say in how this league shakes out.
Rutgers (+400) –The Scarlet Knights are the Little Program That Could. Once a Big East laughingstock, the Scarlet Knights have gone a solid 54-32 over the past seven seasons. That said, I think Kyle Flood’s second effort in New Jersey will be a lot rockier than his first. Rutgers has the toughest schedule in the league and has to take on SMU, Louisville, Central Florida and Connecticut on the road while also facing Houston and Cincinnati. Mix in some tough nonconference games at Fresno State and against Arkansas, and the Scarlet Knights could have trouble scraping six wins together. Three-year starter Gary Nova is back after showing nice improvement last season. He also has a very solid offensive line protecting him. But the defense has just four starters back, and the secondary looks like an inexperienced mess. I feel like Rutgers’ odds are completely out of whack with their reality in this league this year.
South Florida (+3300) –The Bulls have been one of the biggest underachievers in the country the past two years, posting an 8-16 SU mark while going just 7-17 ATS. The Skip Holtz Era never materialized, and mercifully the Bulls are done with graduated quarterback B.J. Daniels. New coach Willie Taggert has moved up the ladder from Western Kentucky and comes highly-regarded. But we heard the same thing about Holtz when he was hired from East Carolina. This will be a complete rebuild for the Bulls, who lack both talent but no direction. They may be a better wager this year simply because the books will adjust their spreads down. But saying that a team will be better simply because things can’t get much worse isn’t exactly a ringing endorsement.
SMU (+2500) – June Jones has seemed poised for a breakout with this SMU program. He has clearly revived the Mustangs and has posted four straight seasons with seven or more wins, with three bowl wins thrown in for good measure. But Jones hasn’t been able to take the next step with SMU and get them to the consistent Top-25 level that he had at Hawaii. SMU is banking on improvement from Texas cast-off Garrett Gilbert at quarterback. But Gilbert is a loser, and my expectations are pretty low. And if SMU is going to make any noise in the AAC this year they will somehow need to match last year’s solid front seven play. They were No. 16 in the country in rush defense (No. 113 against the pass) but have just two starters back. Jones’ teams are always great underdogs. But they aren’t ready to compete for a league title.
Houston (+5000) –Some publications are high on Houston’s prospects in its new league. They have 11 starters back on offense, including stud runner Charles Sims, and just two seasons ago this program won 13 games and beat Penn State in a bowl game. However, second-year coach Tony Levine is not at the same level of former headmen Art Briles or Kevin Sumlin. That doesn’t mean that Houston won’t be feisty in the new league. Their schedule sets up so that they may be 6-0 before their first tilt against a former Big East opponent. But they have to face Rutgers, Central Florida and powerhouse Louisville all on the road. This looks like a bowl team to me, and they may end up being one of the best bets in the league this year.
Memphis (+6600) –The Tigers were one of the worst programs in the country from 2009-2011, going just 5-31 straight up and 11-24 ATS during that stretch. But coach Justin Fuente made some nice strides last season while coaxing four wins out of this rabble. Memphis has 16 starters back and the potential for its best offense in five years. The schedule isn’t that bad, either, and the Tigers could actually top last season’s win total if they could take down either Duke or Temple at home. Beyond that it could be another shaky year for this Conference USA cast-off.
Temple (+7500) – The Owls are kind of the anti-Memphis. Temple was pretty tough from 2009-2011. But other than that they have been one of the worst programs in the nation – and they are headed in the wrong direction. New coach Matt Rhule takes over a team that lost five of its last six games by an average of 25.4 points per game. That’s a lot of ground to make up. Rhule is now the third coach and thus third new system in four years for the Owls. There isn’t much talent on either side of the ball, and it looks like Temple will see its win total decrease for the third straight season.
2013 American Athletic Conference Predictions: Predicted Order of Finish
4. Central Florida
8. South Florida
Robert Ferringo is a lead writer for Doc’s Sport and he has earned over $9,000 in football profit for his clients over the last 15 football months. He went 5-1 last week with his NFL preseason selections and will have a 7-Unit and a 6-Unit NFL futures bet released this week. Also, for the first time ever, Robert will release selections from his incredible KING College Football Betting System. (Learn more HERE.) We are so confident that you will be amazed by this moneymaking system we are going to give you a free, no-strings-attached $60 credit to use toward a purchase of Robert’s football selections. CLICK HERE for $60 absolutely free!
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