American Athletic Conference: Week 11
The uncompetitive fixture was far from an encouraging advertisement for the conference in its inaugural season, something the front office brass will need to consider as it moves forward.
The conference will get a second chance at showing what it has to offer when its two top teams meet, again in primetime, on Saturday.
Read on for more on Week 11 in the American, starting with a recap of last night’s game.
No. 20 Louisville 31, Connecticut 10
Expected to emerge as the inaugural American Athletic Conference champion before the season began, Louisville (8-1, 4-1 American) did exactly what a championship contender should do Friday, defeating a winless Connecticut (0-8, 0-4 American) in East Hartford.
Teddy Bridgewater completed 21 of 37 passes for 288 yards and a touchdown pass. He also threw an interception in a subpar performance. As a team, the Cardinals had just 81 yards rushing, although that proved enough to outclass the Huskies and their 58 yards on the ground.
The Cardinals offense managed just a pair of touchdowns and a field goal, but special teams and defense made sure this game was never close. Charles Gaines returned a blocked punt for a touchdown for the first score of the game, while Terrell Floyd returned one of Huskies quarterback Tim Boyle’s three interceptions for a score in the third.
Louisville’s defense held the Huskies to 237 total yards, forcing five turnovers in the process. Connecticut scored its only touchdown with 0:35 left in the game to make the final score a little closer.
That final touchdown prevented Louisville (4-5-0 ATS) from covering the spread. The Cardinals have now failed to cover in four of their last five games. With neither offense really able to put points on the board, the total went under, as it has done in seven of Louisville’s nine games this season.
Houston at No. 21 Central Florida
Bright House Networks Stadium, Orlando, FL, 7:00 p.m. ET (matchup)
Currently top of the conference, Houston has already overachieved this season. Odds makers had the over/under at 5.5 wins for the Cougars before the season began. A win on Saturday would see the school come within one-game of topping that in conference play alone. Winning on Saturday will be a tough challenge though.
Having defeated then-No. 8 ranked Louisville on October 18, Central Florida is thinking nothing less than a conference championship. The Knights were expected to compete in this inaugural season for the American, but odds makers had the team finishing fourth. A win on Saturday will set the team in good stead to emerge as the No. 1 team and secure a potential BCS Bowl berth.
The Cougars and Knights met four times as members of Conference USA. The Knights earned a 3-1 record during those games, including a 40-33 win the last time the two schools met (Nov. 2010).
Central Florida opened as the favorite with the spread at 10. Most sportsbooks have seen that number rise to 11 or above as kickoff approaches. Both Houston (7-1-0 ATS) and UCF (6-1-0 ATS) have been exceptional against the spread this season.
The over/under opened at 63.5 and has continued to rise as the week has gone on. Houston (5-3-0) has favored the over this season while Central Florida (3-4) has favored the under. The total has gone under in 12 of the Knights’ last 18 home games.
Around the Conference
Cincinnati (6-2, 3-1 American) will look to make it four wins on the bounce Saturday, hosting Southern Methodist (3-4, 2-1 American) in the first ever meeting between the two schools. The Mustangs will be looking for a third straight win while the Bearcats will be hoping to keep their conference title hopes alive. Cincinnati opened as a 10.5-point favorite, although the spread has narrowed slightly.
The remaining game in the American Athletic Conference this weekend comes from the Liberty Bowl as Memphis (1-6, 0-4 American) hosts Tennessee-Martin (6-3, 4-2 OVC) of the FCS. The Tigers opened as a 14.5-point favorite but it was the Skyhawks that emerged with a 20-17 victory from this fixture last season.
American Athletic Conference Schedule (Week 11)
No. 20 Louisville 31, Connecticut 10 (recap)
Saturday (All times ET)
12:00 Southern Methodist (3-4, 2-1 American) at Cincinnati (6-2, 3-1 American) (matchup)
4:30 Tennessee-Martin (6-3, 4-2 OVC) at Memphis (1-6, 0-4 American) (matchup)
7:00 Houston (7-1, 4-0 American) at No. 21 Central Florida (6-1, 3-0 American) (matchup)
Bye: Rutgers, South Florida, Temple
For a comprehensive list of College Football odds, click here.
A selection of team prop bets can be found here.
A selection of player prop bets can be found here.