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UCF Opens with Best Odds to Claim the AAC Championship

UCF 2018 AAC Championship Betting Odds

In the five seasons that the American Athletic Conference has crowned a champion, the University of Central Florida Knights have been that team three times, including a three-way tie in 2014 before there was a championship game. UCF is coming off a perfect 13-0 season last year and is a +140 favorite to win back-to-back AAC titles this season.

AAC Betting Favorite: UCF Knights

In 2017, the Knights had the No. 1 offense in all of the NCAA, averaging 48.2 points per game. Then-sophomore McKenzie Milton set new school records for yards (4,037) and passing touchdowns (37). Milton also showed the ability to scramble, having nine games in which he rushed for 20 or more yards, including 116 yards against Auburn in the Chick-fil-A Peach Bowl. The Hawaii native also has a streak of seven straight games scoring a rushing touchdown. If he can take another step forward in his junior year, we could be talking about the Knights in the College Football Playoff picture.

Joining Milton in the backfield will be junior Adrian Killins Jr. Last season, Killins rushed for 762 yards on 112 carries and added 10 touchdowns. However, only three times did the Florida native rush for over 100 yards in a game. Second-in-command for rushing duties will be sophomore Otis Anderson. Anderson saw an uptick in carries toward the end of last year, touching the ball more than 10 times in each of the final three games and rushing for 181 yards over that span.

It should be noted, however, that head coach Scott Frost will not be returning and that Josh Heupel takes the helm. Heupel has served as offensive coordinator and a quarterback coach over his coaching career but will make his head coaching debut in late August.

Overall, much of the high-octane offense is still intact for the 2018-19 season and with a fringe Heisman Trophy candidate (+3300) at the helm, the expectations are high for UCF.

Can Memphis Repeat in the West?

Trailing only UCF for the lead in points per game in the NCAA (45.5 ppg), Memphis will have to rely on a returning offensive line to return to form. Let’s address the elephant in the room: the Tigers will enter the 2018-19 season without seniors QB Riley Ferguson and WR Anthony Miller, both drafted into the NFL. Ferguson finished third in the NCAA with 4,257 passing yards, including 38 touchdowns. Meanwhile, Miller was Ferguson’s main target as he amassed 1,462 receiving yards, including 18 touchdowns.

Memphis is not a lost cause, though. Opening at +175 to claim the AAC title at the end of the season, the Tigers are still a dangerous team. Memphis has five returning offensive linemen that allowed now-junior Darrell Henderson to average 8.9 yards per carry. Henderson finished the season with 1,154 yards and nine touchdowns. Alongside Henderson will be Patrick Taylor, who had 866 rushing yards of his own along with 13 touchdowns. As it stands now, there appears to be a QB battle between dual-threat David Moore and Arizona State transfer Brady White.

With the tremendous ability out of the backfield behind an experienced O-line, Memphis is a strong candidate to win the West again and appear in back-to-back AAC championship games. However, the Tigers will have to hope that either Moore or White can step in with confidence and steer this team in the right direction. The other area of concern is the fact Memphis allowed 32.5 points per game last season. We can assume a bit of a drop-off offensively with the loss of Ferguson and Miller, but the Tigers will need their defense to play a lot better if they want to repeat as West winners.

Sleeper Pick: Temple Owls

In the second season under head coach Geoff Collins, Temple could be poised to do some damage in the AAC. Collins’ debut as a head coach didn’t exactly go as planned, with the team stumbling out of the gate to the tune of 3-4. In steps QB Frank Nutile. Nutile took over as starting QB for the Owls against Army in their eighth game last season. Temple dropped that game 31-28 in overtime, then went 4-1 after that battle, losing only to UCF. Temple was averaging just 19.9 points per game in the games leading up to Nutile’s debut and averaged 31.2 points after. The New Jersey native amassed 1,522 yards with 12 TDs and six INTs over his six starts, throwing more than 200 yards in each game.

Temple opened at +1200 to win the AAC and has a lot to build on from 2017-18. If Collins can turn Nutile into an upper-echelon quarterback and running back Ryquell Armstead can return to his 2016 form, the Owls may hunt down UCF and pick up their third AAC championship.

2018 AAC College Football Conference Betting Odds
UCF Knights+140
Memphis Tigers+175
South Florida Bulls+1000
Houston Cougars+1000
Navy Midshipmen+1200
Temple Owls+1200
SMU Mustangs+2500
Tulane Green Wave+2500
Tulsa Golden Hurricane+3300
Cincinnati Bearcats+5000
East Carolina Pirates+6600
Connecticut Huskies+10000

Odds as of June 27 at BetOnline