AAC 2017 AAC COLLEGE FOOTBALL BETTING PREVIEW AND ODDS: RUNNING OF THE USF BULLS It may be Charlie Strong’s first season at USF, but expectations couldn’t be higher for the Bulls heading into 2017, who are dreaming of an AAC championship and potentially a “New Year’s Six” Bowl Game. Covers Expert Will Rogers breaks down their chances, plus the chances to win the AAC crown for every program as well as season win total picks.
East Division USF Bulls (2016: 11-2 SU, 7-5-1 ATS) Odds to Win The AAC: 8/5 Season Win Total: 10.0 Why to bet the Bulls: They enter 2017 as the overwhelming favorite, not just to win the East Division, but the entire AAC as well. They return 16 starters from what was arguably the best team in the conference last year and figure to be favored in every game. Despite a coaching change, this team has a very legitimate shot at finishing the regular season undefeated and playing in a “New Year’s Six” Bowl Game. Why not to be the Bulls: With expectations, the marketplace will adjust accordingly and thus it’s quite likely we’ll find USF “overvalued” on a game-by-game basis. Furthermore, the architect of the program (Willie Taggart) departed for Oregon. The cupboard is by no means bare for first year head man Charlie Strong, but there is a learning curve with a first year coach. Plus, Strong’s track record as a head coach isn’t all that great. USF should win the AAC, but don’t be surprised if they break their backers along the way. Season Win Total Pick: Under 10.0
Temple Owls: (2016: 10-4 SU, 12-2 ATS) Odds to Win the AAC: 15/1 Season Win Total: 6.5 Why to bet the Owls: It was this team, not USF, that represented the East Division in last year’s AAC Title Game (they won it). For the first time in program history, the Owls are coming off back to back 10-plus win seasons where they also won a bowl. Last year, they were by far and away the most dominant team in AAC play, outgaining their foes by almost 209 yards per game in conference play. Why not to bet the Owls: Most, if not all, signs are pointing down in 2017. They have some similarities with USF in that they’ll find it difficult to manage expectations under a first year coach. Matt Rhule left for Baylor and his replacement, Geoff Collins, steps into a far more challenging situation. Not only does Temple have to travel to USF this season, but they are the far less experienced of the two teams. In fact, with only 10 starters back, this is the least experienced team in the conference. On offense, they lose a four-year starter at QB and will go with a freshman as his replacement. On defense, they lost five of the six top tacklers from 2016. Season Win Total Pick: Over 6.5
UCF Golden Knights (2016: 6-7 SU, 8-5 ATS) Odds to win the AAC: 9/2 Season Win Total: 7.5 Why to bet the Knights: In his first year as a head coach, Scott Frost did an incredible job last season. He inherited a team that won zero games in 2015 and got them to a bowl. Frost will have nine starters back on offense this year. The program is on a 25-8 SU run in conference home games, which obviously pre-dates Frost’s tenure here. The record could have been even better last season were it not for an 0-3 record in games decided by seven points or less. Why not to bet the Knights: I hate to sound like a broken record here, but the prospect of dealing with increased expectations should prove difficult for the top three teams in the AAC East. Also, when a team makes a jump like the Knights did last year, you typically see regression in the win column the following year. They will have to play Temple (road) and USF (home) in the final two games of the regular season, in a six-day span. Season Win Total Pick: Under 7.5
UConn Huskies (2016: 3-9 SU, 3-8-1 ATS) Odds to win the AAC: 100/1 Season Win Total: 3.5 Why to bet the Huskies: Well, it can’t go much worse than it did last season, right? Randy Edsall, who guided the program to a Fiesta Bowl appearance back in 2010, returns to Storrs after a failed expe