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Examining the Over/Under 2015 Win Totals for the American Athletic Conference

Gunner Kiel

Gunner Kiel

The calendar has turned to June and college football fans who keep one eye on Las Vegas already have win totals to chew on for the upcoming season. While the Power 5 conferences receive their share of attention, here is a look at how the American Athletic Conference is shaping up in 2015.

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Related: American Athletic Conference 2015 Football Predictions

For the purposes of this exercise, projected win totals broken down into three categories — definite wins, definite losses and toss-ups. Most of the conference games will in the toss-up category, especially ones on the road. This preview will offer thoughts on each team and if there’s any value either over or under.

The AAC has several intriguing teams and several intriguing storylines. First off, the conference has split into an East and West division with each side having six teams. There's now a championship game at the end of the season and a new addition in the Naval Academy, who of course are in the West Division. The Midshipmen will have to contend with Houston, Memphis, SMU, Tulane and Tulsa. The East features Cincinnati, Temple, UCF, East Carolina, South Florida and UConn.

Note: Over/under odds courtesy of 5Dimes Sportsbook

AAC East

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Cincinnati Bearcats

(Over 7.5 wins -130...Under 7.5 wins -110)

Record Last Year: 9-4, 7-1

Returning Starters: 13 (8 on offense, 5 on defense)

Offense: Gunner Kiel is back and he led the nation’s 13th-ranked passing attack last year. Kiel has the majority of his wide receivers back along with Mike Boone who ran for nine touchdowns as a true freshman. The O-line is full of veterans although they will miss Eric Lefeld at tackle.

Defense: This is where some issues could occur. The unit allowed over 400 yards per game last year and will be without three of their studs in Jeff Luc, Nick Temple and Terrell Hartsfield.

Schedule: Out of conference the Bearcats have home games against Miami and Alabama A&M with road trips to BYU and Miami (Ohio). Getting the Canes at home will be nice after last year's 55-34 blowout loss in Miami. In conference, they get woeful Tulsa and UConn at home. November features three road games out of four including tough trips to East Carolina and Houston.

Selection: Small lean to the over, but those wins need to come early with the rough finishing stretch.

UConn Huskies

(Over 3 wins -160...Under 3 wins +120)

Record Last Year: 2-10, 1-7

Returning Starters: 11 (4 on offense, 7 on defense)

Offense: There's nowhere for UConn to go but up after last year. The Huskies averaged 15.5 points per game, which was good for 122nd overall in FBS. Quarterback is among the many question marks here. They don't return either of their top two receivers and will have to rely on Ron Johnson and Arkeel Newsome to get the ground game going. The OL should be a bit better then last year.

Defense: The unit has their top four tacklers back. The defense did its part especially against the pass, allowing just 208.8 yards per game through the air. The problem is how much time UConn defenders were on the field last year due to the many short possessions by the offense.

Schedule: It's going to be a rough year. Villanova is no cupcake to start out the year as many predict the Wildcats will be in the mix to play in the FCS title game. If UConn doesn’t get the win there, it will have to beat Army, whom the Huskies lost to (35-21) last year. Road games at Missouri and BYU mean UConn could go 0-4 if things don't break right. Huskies get Navy, East Carolina, USF and Houston at home, but by late October and November, how motivated will they be?

Selection: There's incredible value with the under. This is a team that could go 1-3 in September and not win again until Oct. 17 when the Bulls come to town. Worst-case scenario is you get a push at three, but UConn is at least another year away.

East Carolina Pirates

(Over 7 wins -120...Under 7 wins -120)

Record Last Year: 8-5, 5-3

Returning Starters: 11 (6 on offense, 5 on defense)

Offense: Shane Carden is no longer slinging it in Greenville. The experience level goes down big time under center with Kurt Benkert, who threw only 10 passes last year. Two of Carden's better receivers are also gone in Justin Hardy and Cam Worthy. Isaiah Jones and Bryce Williams are two weapons looking to step in and make Benkert's transition easier.

Defense: It's a senior-laden unit that stops the run really well. Last year ECU was 11th in the nation against the run. Because of that, the secondary was under siege as the Pirates were in a boatload of shootouts. Josh Hawkins leads the way at corner after picking off five passes in 2014.

Schedule: A bowl game rematch highlights the out-of-conference schedule. On Sept. 12, the Pirates will be in Gainesville to face Florida, who they lost 28-20 to in last season’s Birmingham Bowl. ECU also gets Towson and Virginia Tech at home to go with a road game at BYU. One of the best home-field advantages in the conference will help the team as ECU hosts contenders Temple and Cincinnati in AAC play.

Selection: No real lean on the total. September could spiral out of control after the opener against Towson. ECU doesn’t figure to win at Florida, which could then turn into a losing streak with only one week to prepare for Navy. Pirates will start slow, but they'll finish up strong with a weaker second half to the schedule.

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South Florida Bulls

(Over 4 wins -105...Under 4 wins -135)

Record Last Year: 4-8, 3-5

Returning Starters: 8 (5 on offense, 3 on defense)

Offense: Marlon Mack by himself is almost worth the price of admission. Mack had over 1,000 yards rushing and nine touchdowns on his way to earning AAC Rookie of the Year honors last season. If this team could get any sort of consistency under center, then the run game becomes even more dangerous. Until then, the Bulls will see plenty of stacked boxes and low-scoring outputs.

Defense: A new coordinator will try to breathe life into this unit. Tom Allen comes over from Ole Miss and is going to try and use a 4-2-5 alignment. The Bulls allowed 27 points or more in the majority of their road games. The front line is going to struggle with just Eric Lee returning at end.

Schedule: South Florida has a lot of big names out of conference with road games at Florida State and Maryland, but those will be ugly blowouts. The Bulls host Florida A&M and Syracuse with both representing win opportunities. They've got three home games out of five in October.

Selection: It's hard to go over with an unsettled quarterback position. There are plenty of win opportunities at home if they could figure out how to score. We'll agree with the money move and take the under, but we don't feel that comfortable with it. This could just be a four-win team.

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Temple Owls

(Over 7 wins -130...Under 7 wins -110)

Record Last Year: 6-6, 4-4

Returning Starters: 17 (7 on offense, 10 on defense)

Offense: P.J. Walker is the key. The quarterback had 11 interceptions in his last seven games, which contributed to a .500 record and no bowl game. He's got a host of running backs in the backfield that will provide different looks to their opponent. The WR corps will need someone to step up and take over while the offensive line will have to protect Walker.

Defense: Tyler Matakevich is a name for the nation to know. He's made 355 tackles in his career, the most by any active player. The majority of the unit is back from a defense that allowed just 17.5 points per game and 186.9 passing yards per contest.

Schedule: It's an odd out-of-conference schedule where the road games are more winnable then the home ones. Notre Dame and Penn State come to Lincoln Financial Field while the Owls play at UMass and Charlotte. The conference home slate is manageable with road games taking place at Cincinnati and East Carolina.

Selection: Expectations are high for this team and that's hard for fans to swallow. It's going to be a roller coaster with a 2-2 start most likely transitioning to a 4-4 record and then an important November. Once again the road games are winnable, but  my feeling here is that Temple will go under the total. I think the Owls will slip up in a winnable road game and don't make up the difference at home.

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UCF Knights

(Over 7 wins -120...Under 7 wins -120)

Record Last Year: 9-4, 7-1

Returning Starters: 10 (6 on offense, 4 on defense)

Offense: Justin Holman had a fine year for the Knights, as he tried to fill the shoes of the departed Blake Bortles. Holman threw for 23 touchdowns to just 14 interceptions and was helped by Breshad Perriman. Perriman has joined Bortles in the NFL, leaving UCF’s WR corps a complete mess. Luckily, running back William Stanback is back and the offensive line is filled with veterans.

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Defense: This was a great group last year, but a lot of those players are gone. The Knights were ninth in the country allowing just 19.2 points per game. Thomas Niles and his 7.5 sacks per game are now needed more then ever with so much uncertainty behind him.

Schedule: UCF will be making trips to Stanford and South Carolina while it hosts FIU and Furman. This is a team that does not spend two straight weeks at home until late November when the Knights host ECU and South Florida.

Selection: Another number spot on by Vegas. The Knights are going to be 2-2 after September. They've got winnable road games at Tulsa and Tulane with ECU and Houston coming to Orlando. No lean on this one.

AAC West

Houston Cougars

(Over 8.5 wins +105...Under 8.5 wins -140)

Record Last Year: 8-5, 5-3

Returning Starters: 11 (5 on offense, 6 on defense)

Offense: Kenneth Farrow is a good place to start, as he ran for over 1,000 yards while contributing 15 touchdowns. This is an offense that will miss Deontay Greenberry who was by far the No. 1 wide receiver last year. The good thing is that new head coach Tom Herman knows offense and should be able to figure out how to play to the Cougars’ strengths. They put up almost 30 points per game last year, but won't do that again this year most likely.

Defense: The back end of the defense will be the strength with the top corners and safeties returning. They'll need to hold strong with only one defensive lineman back. Last year Houston gave up over 30 points in three of its last five games.

Schedule: The out of conference has a nice mix of winnable games and stiff tests. The Cougs get Tennessee Tech, Texas State and Vanderbilt at home while they travel to Louisville. November is home-friendly with three of four in front of their fans.

Selection: The money move is right here. I think Houston is one year away as Herman recruits more of his own guys. I think the defense is vulnerable and the offense doesn't have enough weapons. At best, this seems like an eight-win team even with a semi-manageable schedule.

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Memphis Tigers

(Over 8.5 wins -105...Under 8.5 wins -135)

Record Last Year: 10-3, 7-1

Returning Starters: 10 (7 on offense, 3 on defense)

Offense: Paxton Lynch was really fun to watch last year and he's back again. The 6-foot-7 quarterback threw for over 3,000 yards and has a few of last year's weapons back. Mose Frazier and Alan Cross figure to get a lot of targets in this offense with the run game having to replace Brandon Hayes. The left side of the line is intact for the Tigers, who put up 36.2 points per game last year.

Defense: The defense lost a lot from last year's 11th-ranked unit. Jackson Dillon will try to help the linebackers out after a solid year last year. We don't talk about special teams too much here but kicker Jake Elliott is a difference-maker in close games.

Schedule: The Tigers host Missouri State and Ole Miss while traveling to Kansas and Bowling Green. Conference play brings them road games at Temple and Houston in November.

Selection: Small lean to the under for Memphis. The Bowling Green game will be huge in deciding if this actually does go over. The Falcons will be tough and since it's early, we may not see the same Tigers team we get in November.

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Navy Midshipmen

(Over 7.5 wins -130...Under 7.5 wins -110)

Record Last Year: 8-5

Returning Starters: 10 (4 on offense, 6 on defense)

Offense: Keenan Reynolds is back for his senior year and that's trouble for the rest of the AAC. He's got Chris Swain in the backfield among other weapons. The offensive line has two returners so that will take time to gel. How will the AAC handle preparing for the triple option though?

Defense: Paul Quessenberry is a big loss for this unit that allowed almost 200 yards rushing per game. The secondary should be a strong point along with Bernie Sarra up front.

Schedule: Colgate, Air Force, Notre Dame and Army are the school's non-conference games. Of this quartet, the only road game is against the Irish. Even better for the Midshipmen is the extra week off after the ND game giving them time to get ready for a heavy dose of conference play.

Selection: We love the over here. Five of their first seven are at home with really only East Carolina as the biggest challenge coming to Annapolis. The Middies are home just once after Halloween with the traditional neutral field game against Army to close things out.

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SMU Mustangs

(Over 2.5 wins -110...Under 2.5 wins -130)

Record Last Year: 1-11, 1-7

Returning Starters: 11 (5 on offense, 6 on defense)

Offense: Chad Morris' arrival should help out this anemic unit that averaged just 11.1 points per game last year. The team benefits from four returning offensive linemen who may be able to open some holes for Prescott Line and the run game. Darius Joseph was a solid wide receiver last year and should lead the way this season.

Defense: This is a team that's changing to a 4-2-5 alignment. The defense was non-existent at times giving up 41.3 points per game so anything new will be an improvement. The returnees should help, but they have a long way to go.

Schedule: Three of the first four are at home, but the opponents are Baylor, North Texas, TCU and James Madison. The Dukes are another plucky CAA team who won't go down easily and should make this a shootout. If the Mustangs don't slow JMU down, then this could be a long year. Even if they do pick up a win, it'll be tough sledding.

Selection: Small lean to the over in this one. North Texas and JMU are early potential wins in September. Home games with Tulsa and Tulane could push SMU over if the Mustangs pick up the two non-conference wins. I'll say this, we'll be on James Madison plus the points on Sept. 26.

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Tulane Green Wave

(Over 5 wins -120...Under 5 wins -120)

Record Last Year: 3-9, 2-6

Returning Starters: 13 (6 on offense, 7 on defense)

Offense: Tanner Lee has to solidify the position after a year where Tulane barely averaged over 200 yards passing per game. Sherman Badie leads a nice three-headed monster in the backfield. The line has four returning starters so if the Green Wave can get things going on the ground, that should result in less pressure on Lee, who really needs to build chemistry with his wideouts.

Defense: CB Lorenzo Doss is gone and that won't help the secondary. Nico Marley leads a solid group of linebackers. If Royce LaFrance can improve on his six sacks from last year then this could become an underrated unit.

Schedule: September features home games against Duke and Maine with a road trip to Georgia Tech in between. The fourth non-conference game is a road contest at Army in November. Five of Tulane’s last eight are on the road so things could be a bit rough down the stretch.

Selection: I like the under for the Green Wave. Maine and UConn are winnable home games, but there's not too many more that we can peg as sure victories. I just don't like how things line up and think Tulane will go under the five wins.

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Tulsa Golden Hurricane

(Over 5 wins -105...Under 5 wins -135)

Record Last Year: 2-10, 2-6

Returning Starters: 13 (8 on offense, 5 on defense)

Offense: Philip Montgomery comes over from Baylor and there are pieces for this unit to take off. Keevan Lucas and Keyarris Garrett are real good targets to have in the passing game. The offensive line is pretty much intact so this group has a chance to improve on its 24.7 points per game last year.

Defense: This was an awful group last year, allowing nearly 40 points and 500 yards per game. Derrick Alexander had 7.5 sacks last year while Michael Mudoh had 113 tackles. It could be rough on this side of the ball.

Schedule: Florida Atlantic kicks off Tulsa's slate and is followed up by road games at New Mexico and Oklahoma. October sees three home games out of five including Louisiana-Monroe.

Selection: We like the over for the Golden Hurricane. Literally and figuratively as this team will get in a lot of shootouts this season. Montgomery will get his weapons out in space, while the defense will get gashed. Tulsa needs to get wins early because a finish of UCF, at Cincinnati, Navy and at Tulane will be a test.

— Written by Matt Josephs, who is a part of the Athlon Sports Contributor Network. Josephs prefers non-Power 5 college football and may be the only one wagering on the Sun Belt. Follow him on Twitter @MidMajorMatt.