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American Athletic Conference Championship Betting Preview
The perfect 12-0 Cincinnati Bearcats will take on the 11-1 Houston Cougars for the American Conference Championship on Saturday afternoon at 4 p.m. at Nippert Stadium on ABC. Cincinnati held their stop at No. 4 in the latest College Football Playoff Rankings. Houston moved up to No. 21.
Both teams are coming off wins in their previous game. The Bearcats took care of East Carolina in a 35-13 contest in which Desmond Ridder threw for two touchdowns. Houston demolished Uconn by a score of 45-17 as Clayton Tune threw for four touchdowns.
Let’s look at the keys to victory for both teams and the betting lines going into this QB battle for the American Conference Championship.
Cincinnati is a 10 point favorite with odds of -113 of winning at that spread. Houston, at +10, has the same odds of covering at -108. The over/under for the game is set at 53 with odds of -112 to bet the over or -109 to bet the under.
The Bearcats are 2-4 against the spread in their last six games. The under hit four out of their last six matchups. The Cougars are 2-7 in their last nine matchups against the Bearcats. The under has hit in their last six games in the American.
Keys to Victory - Cincinnati Bearcats
It appears the Bearcats have everything to lose in this tough American Conference Championship matchup. Their hopes of becoming the first Group of 5 team to make the College Football Playoff will be destroyed with a loss.
Desmond Ridder and the sixth-ranked Bearcats offense will do everything in their power to not let that happen. Ridder’s connection with receiver Alec Pierce will be vital, especially in the big play as the Bearcats rank third in points per play. Running back Jerome Ford has scored in every game but one this season. Look for the Bearcats to establish him early.
The defense for the Bearcats has been exceptional, as well, ranking fifth in points allowed per game, fourth in opponent yards per play, and first in takeaways per game. The Bearcats will need to pressure Tune to get some needed turnovers to put this game away.
Keys to Victory - Houston Cougars
The Cougars are playing the role of the spoiler and looking to find some legitimacy within their team if they are able to beat the No. 4 team in the country and knock off the Bearcats.
Clayton Tune is leading this ninth-ranked Cougars offense as he has thrown for 26 touchdowns and 3013 total yards with only eight interceptions. The Cougars are efficient in their scoring as they rank seventh in points/play.
The defense for the Cougars, especially against the run, has been their bright spot of the season. They rank seventh in opponent yards per game with just over 300 total yards given up. They rank in the top ten in yards given up per rush, opponent rushes per game, and rush yards given up per game.
At a neutral site, I could see this going either way. At Nippert Stadium, in a game that sold out in less than a day, I don’t see the Bearcats losing. In their last game at Nippert against SMU, they took care of business, and they will do the same here. I expect them to win and cover the -10.5 spread behind an elite offense and tenacious defense.
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