College Football Picks: AAC Best Bets, Team Totals, Conference Champion Pick

College Football Picks: AAC Best Bets, Team Totals, Conference Champion Pick

This article is part of our College Football Picks series.

The AAC is once again an extremely top-heavy conference, with Cincinnati, Houston and UCF each holding their own in the fight for the title. Cincinnati hasn't lost a conference game since the 2019 season, boasting a 14-0 record over the last two seasons. After the big three, the AAC sees a massive dropoff. What does this mean? Taking each of the over win totals for Cincinnati, Houston and UCF as they have a chance at posting perfect conference records, besides for games they may play each other. Could this be a flawed system? Potentially. But for those three teams, it's their last year in the AAC before joining the Big 12 next season. With their final chance at being AAC conference champions on the line, I love these picks. These picks are extremely chalky, but so is the conference as of late. 

Check out RotoWire's AAC Odds and college football win totals odds for the most up-to-date prices as we head into the season. 

Cincinnati O9 Wins (-140 at FanDuel Sportsbook)

I'll admit it, this pick feels suspicious. Cincinnati has finished each of the last three seasons winning more than nine games, including last season's playoff berth. While they may have lost Desmond Ridder, Ahmad Gardner, Alec Pierce and Bryan Cook, this is still Luke Fickell's team. I wholeheartedly believe in Fickell's ability to replace talent year after year. Sure, Cincy may be due for some regression, but it's hard to imagine this team losing three games. 

Opening the season at No. 23, the Bearcats only play one preseason top-25 team, No. 19 Arkansas, in week one. After that, there's a very real chance that Cincinnati is favored in every one of their games. As long as their offense can find a rhythm early into the season, I see Cincinnati winning 10 or 11 games.

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Houston   O9 Wins (-125 at DraftKings Sportsbook)

Between the 2019 and 2020 seasons, Houston had a combined seven wins. In 2021, Houston went 12-2 with an 8-0 conference record. Last season, Houston won 11 straight games on their way to a bowl win over Auburn. This year, the Cougars are not scheduled to play against any preseason top-25 teams, while returning their top QB-WR duo of Clayton Tune and Nathaniel Dell

Not only are the Cougars returning practically everybody, but they also don't have to play Cincinnati or UCF. With the number being at nine, I'm all over this over, since I can push. 9.5 might scare me with a tough start to the season, playing UTSA and Texas Tech, with a late game against SMU. Assuming the Cougars win at least one of those three games and take care of business the rest of the way, they should end up with 10 or 11 wins as well.

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Central Florida   O8.5 wins (-150 at DraftKings Sportsbook)

UCF finished strong last season, defeating Florida 29-17 in the Gasparilla Bowl. The Knights have generally been at the top of the American Athletic Conference for years now, establishing themselves as a dominant force. Over the last couple of seasons, though, Cincinnati dethroned UCF as kings of the conference. Still, the Knights have hung around, finishing top three in each of the last three seasons. 

In 2019 and 2021, UCF won over nine games and still gets to take advantage of the lesser competition within the conference. Bounce House Stadium, home to the Knights, is secretly one of college football's best home-field advantages. UCF is 30-2 in home games over the last five years. The Knights have an immediate test in Week 1, taking on Spencer Rattler and the South Carolina Gamecocks in the Bounce House. If the Knights can come away with a victory in Week 1, they may roll through the rest of their schedule, until they run into Cincinnati.

This UCF team has a legitimate chance at reaching 9-11 wins. I sound like a broken record at this point, but they do. 

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Cincinnati   to win AAC +250 at FanDuel Sportsbook

I said it before and I'll say it again. I believe in Luke Fickell. Why shouldn't I? Admittedly, it truly feels like a three-way race between Cincy, Houston and UCF, but the Bearcats gained playoff experience last season against Alabama. Any and all reservations towards Cincinnati this year are valid, though I still feel like they have what it takes to win the AAC for a third straight season, solidifying their dynasty before making the step up to the Big 12. As much as I love Houston's growth into an AAC powerhouse and UCF's consistency, Cincinnati is simply too much of a powerhouse not to take them with that value.

Be sure to check out our college football custom rankings and our player rankings cheat sheet for up-to-date season-long rankings, as well as our college football weekly rankings to help guide your lineup decisions. During the season, our college football DFS optimizer and value report are powerful tools to help build DFS lineups on DraftKings and FanDuel. 

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Charlie Dern
Charlie Dern is a breaking news contributor for RotoWire, specializing in college sports. He formerly was a beat writer for the Lakeshore Chinooks and Sports News Editor for the Badger Herald, where he covered Wisconsin men's basketball, men's hockey, and football.
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