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Analyzing the Vegas Win Totals for the AAC

Expectations are much lower for Cincinnati this season, but that doesn't mean you shouldn't bet the over.

Aaron Doster-USA TODAY Sports

Maybe Las Vegas isn't a good town for professional sports but it is still the best place on the planet to lay a wager. If over/unders are your thing there is good news: Vegas released its win totals for all 128 college football teams. If you also are a fan of the American Athletic Conference you are in double luck, as we are about to go on a journey through the win totals for each team in the conference, including the heroes we know as the Cincinnati Bearcats.

Cincinnati - 6.5 wins

Woof. Where did the last year go? Certainly not to a good place. As we anticipated the opening of the updated Nippert Stadium, expecations could not have been higher. It wasn't a question of if the Bearcats would win the AAC, it was by how much. It wasn't would they make a bowl game, it was would they crack into one of the big ones or, if the chips fell right, into the College Football Playoff. Instead, they scraped together seven wins and mailed in the effort in the postseason.

That brings us to today, when 6.5 wins isn't an insult to the Bearcat name but a reasonable number to toss out for the team's win total in 2016.

However, there is reason to believe that hitting the over won't be too tall a task. First off, the Bearcats have a relatively weak non-conference schedule. A game at home against BYU and a trip to Purdue are the marquee events, and the tilt with the Boilermakers is really just because of the Big 10 angle. Also aiding the cause, the Bearcats get Houston and USF (the league favorites) at home.

Woah, calm down now. That last paragraph wasn't supposed to get 10-win seasons spinning in your head. This team is still adjusting to a new offensive coordinator in Zac Taylor and who knows whats going to happen at quarterback and with the receivers. Is Hayden Moore going to be the guy or will Gunner Kiel? Even if the latter wins the job, will he stay healthy? And that's before we even get to the defense. For now, let's softly hammer the over, but keep those expectations realistic.

The bet - Just OVER

Houston - 9.5 wins

The buzz around the Cougars is palpable. That's what a 13-win season will do for you. They start with their toughest game of the season (vs. Oklahoma) but play three of their last four at home. Plus, Greg Ward Jr. is the darkhorse Heisman candidate that we all thought Gunner Kiel could be last year. (Hey, stop laughing. We know we were wrong).

The bet - OVER

USF - 8.5 wins

The Bulls haven't won more than eight games since 2007 but Vegas must have taken a look around the AAC and seen that there aren't many powerhouses lurking. The only one there (Houston) doesn't appear  on USF's schedule. Don't worry, there are still challenges to be faced (Florida State, at Temple). Willie Taggart has obviously done a great job resurrecting this program, but nine wins still seems a little too much.

The bet - Just UNDER

Temple - 8.5 wins

This is a big year for the Owls. When Al Golden built the program back up from the ashes, it appeared that it was ready to be a consistently competitive force. Then 2012 and 2014 happened and it looked like we were dealing with the same old Owls. Back-to-back winning seasons, including last year's 10-win squad, have the needle pointed back up, but with defensive leader Tyler Matakevich gone, there is a chance that Temple will step back once again. It probably will. However, there's enough left on the roster to expect a more modest one than the years following Golden's departure.

The bet - Just UNDER

Memphis - 6.5 wins

The Tigers find themselves in the same ambiguous zone as the Bearcats. Sure, winning around six games gets you a bowl, but that isn't really all that exciting when the fan base hungers for, nay, expects championship teams. Memphis has won 19 games over the last two seasons, but Justin Fuente (gone to Virginia Tech) and Paxton Lynch (playing in the NFL) are no longer around. That's a lot to overcome, even if much of the rest of the talent remains.

The bet - UNDER

Navy  - 6.5 wins

Navy knows a thing or two about having to replace a stud quarterback. A legitimate underground movement got brewing because of how good Keenan Reynolds was for the Midshipmen, running their option offense to the tune of six billion total yards (approximate). Even without Reynolds, the Midshipmen always seem to find a way to win eight games, something they have done in 12 of the last 13 years. A neutral site game against Notre Dame and a visit to Air Force are two tough tests on the schedule and there's the fact that they only play five true home games. Still, scraping together seven wins should be manageable.

The bet - Just OVER

Tulsa - 6.5

In 2012, Tulsa won 11 games, capping a stretch of five double-digit win seasons in seven years. The Golden Hurricane crash landed after that, winning a total of five games over the next two campaigns. A rejuvenated passing attack helped them get back to respectable in 2015 (6-7) and Vegas clearly thinks they can at least maintain that level of success. The regression that is expected for Memphis and Navy could end up being a boost for Tulsa, which doesn't have to deal with changes under center. Still, until they can prove that they can play a lick of defense, the Golden Hurricane aren't a sure thing just yet, especially with visits to Ohio State, Houston and Memphis on the calendar.

The bet - Just UNDER

East Carolina - 5.5 wins

The 2015 Pirates were the model for what happens the year after your franchise quarterback graduates. Without Shane Carden running the Lamborghini that is the ECU offense, the Pirates went an uninspiring 5-7. The administration then showed Ruffin McNeil the door, paving the way for Scottie Montgomery, who has to start from scratch for the most part, especially on offense after starting quarterback Blake Kemp decided to leave the program. That's not the kind of foundation bowl seasons are built on. Plus, that's before we even mention the team plays three teams from power five conferences and visits USF, Cincinnati and Temple.

The bet - UNDER

UCF - 5 wins

After last season, if new head coach Scott Frost can squeeze five wins out, he should be given a lifelong contract. Last year was a disaster for the Knights, who need to show that it was an anomaly. Odds are it was (UCF had won at least eight games in five of the previous six seasons) but projecting more than five wins seems too generous.

The bet - UNDER

UConn - 5 wins

Something's brewing up in the 'Cut. Perhaps its just the Big 12 rumors, but the Huskies are clearly dedicated to making the football program a strength. Sure, it will always be a basketball school first, but UConn has made great strides as a program in its less than two decades of existence. Bob Diaco turned a two-win team in 2014 into a bowl squad last season. Built on defense, the Huskies are on the up and up.

The bet - OVER

SMU - 3.5 wins

Projecting 3.5 wins for the Mustangs amounts to heavy expectations. With just three total wins in the last two seasons, SMU is still facing an uphill climb. It will always hurt how many teams from Texas the Mustangs play, as a visit to Baylor and a matchup against TCU make the conference schedule that much more important.

The bet - UNDER

Tulane - 3.5 wins

Tulane doesn't play a tough non-conference schedule, but that's about all you can say is on its side. The Green Wave has a new coach and a new quarterback and although linebacker Nico Marley (82 tackles, 13.0 TFL) and running back Dontrell Hilliard (913 yards from scrimmage) are nice building blocks, they aren't enough to inspire dreams of games in late December.

The bet - UNDER