American Athletic Conference: Week 12

Can Teddy Bridgewater keep the Louisville Cardinals in contention?

Can Teddy Bridgewater keep the Louisville Cardinals in contention?

Central Florida scored a huge victory over Houston last weekend to take sole possession of first place in the American Athletic Conference. The Knights now need to hold on to that lead for another three weeks if they’re to be crowned the inaugural conference champions.

Maintaining this lead could prove tough though. Louisville, Cincinnati, and even Houston still have an eye on the championship, which will make these next three weeks very interesting.

BettingSports.com now brings you a preview of Week 12 in the American Athletic Conference, beginning with the conference leaders.

No. 17 Central Florida at Temple

Lincoln Financial Field, Philadelphia, PA, 12:00 p.m. ET

The Central Florida Knights are in the driving seat.

The Central Florida Knights are in the driving seat.

After last week’s 19-14 win over Houston, No. 17 Central Florida (7-1, 4-0 American) will travel to Philadelphia for a first ever meeting with Temple (1-8, 0-5 American).

For the Knights, there’s more on the line than just the first ever American Athletic Conference title. As it stands, the school is still on track for a first ever BCS Bowl berth, thanks in no small part to a 38-35 win over Louisville on October 18. George O’Leary’s side needs to keep focused though, beginning with this Saturday’s game in Philadelphia.

Having long ago been written out of this season’s script, there’s little the Owls would like more than to spoil the party for the Knights. With just one out-of-conference win over Army to their name, it’s unlikely that Temple will pose a threat to Central Florida, but you just never know.

Central Florida Knights vs. Temple Owls odds for 11/16/2013

Central Florida is a heavy favorite entering this one. The spread opened at 17, where it remains with most sportsbooks. The Knights (6-2-0 ATS) have been impressive against the spread this season but while the Owls (6-3-0 ATS) have been horrific straight up, they’ve fared well against the spread and will pose a threat to George O’Leary’s side in that respect at least.

The over/under opened at 55.5 and has climbed as high as 57. Both Central Florida (3-5-0) and Temple (3-6-0) have favored the under this season.

Houston at No. 20 Louisville

Papa John’s Cardinal Stadium, Louisville, KY, 7:00 p.m. ET

A loss on Saturday will eradicate Houston's conference title hopes.

A loss on Saturday will eradicate Houston’s conference title hopes.

Two teams hoping that Central Florida slips up against Temple meet at Papa John’s Cardinal Stadium in a primetime showdown on Saturday.

Both No. 20 Louisville (8-1, 4-1 American) and Houston (7-2, 4-1 American) need the Knights to drop at least two of their last four games if they are to stand any hope of winning the conference title. There’s also the small matter of them needing to essentially win out, which makes Saturday’s game a must-win for both schools.

The Cardinals looked anything but champions in last week’s 31-10 win over Connecticut. Fortunately for Charlie Strong’s side, defense and special teams bailed out a spluttering offense. That uninspired performance could spark a fire under the Cardinals. It could also give the Cougars an extra serving of confidence it might not have had otherwise.

The Cougars and Cardinals last met in November 2004 when both were members of Conference USA. The Cards took that game 65-27, securing a second straight victory over the Cougars and a fifth win in six games. The all-time head-to-head is tied 6-6.

Houston Cougars vs. Louisville Cardinals odds for 11/16/2013

Louisville enters the game as a heavy favorite. The spread opened at 16.5 and has edged up to 17 with some sportsbooks. Houston (8-1-0 ATS) has been the conference’s best team against the spread this season, while Louisville (4-5-0 ATS) has struggled. However, the Cardinals covered the spread in four of their last six against the Cougars.

The over/under opened at 59 and has slipped slightly, with some sportsbooks offering 58 and others 57.5. Houston (5-4-0) has marginally favored the over this season, while Louisville (2-7-0) has favored the under. The total has gone over in five of Houston’s last seven on the road and under in four of Louisville’s last six at home. Something has to give.

Around the Conference

When it comes to tough final stretches, Cincinnati (7-2, 4-1 American) has one of the toughest. If the Bearcats are to come away with at least a share of the conference title they’ll need to defeat Houston and Louisville over the coming weeks. Before that, they’ll need to get the better of a Rutgers (5-3, 2-2 American) team they haven’t beaten since 2010. The two schools meet at High Point Solutions Stadium in Piscataway, N.J., on Saturday lunchtime. Cincinnati opened as a road favorite but Rutgers is currently favored.

Connecticut (0-8, 0-4 American) and Southern Methodist (3-5, 2-2 American) will lock up Saturday for the first time in the history of the two schools. Playing at home, the Mustangs are favored by more than two touchdowns over the winless Huskies.

Memphis (2-6, 0-4 American) and South Florida (2-6, 2-2 American) will meet for the first time since the 2008 St. Petersburg Bowl in a primetime game Saturday night. The Knights won that game to take a 3-2 advantage in the all-time head-to-head. They’ll be underdogs against the Tigers though, despite the latter being winless in the conference.

American Athletic Conference Schedule (Week 12)

Saturday (All times ET)

12:00 Cincinnati (7-2, 4-1 American) at Rutgers (5-3, 2-2 American) (matchup)

12:00 No. 17 Central Florida (7-1. 4-0 American) at Temple (1-8, 0-5 American) (matchup)

3:00 Connecticut (0-8, 0-4 American) at Southern Methodist (3-5, 2-2 American) (matchup)

7:00 Memphis (2-6, 0-4 American) at South Florida (2-6, 2-2 American) (matchup)

7:00 Houston (7-2, 4-1 American) at No. 20 Louisville (8-1, 4-1 American) (matchup)

 

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