American Athletic Conference: Week 13
American Athletic Conference-leading Central Florida got an early start to college football’s Week 13, defeating Rutgers in Orlando Thursday to move to 6-0 within the rebranded league.
Now it’s down to Louisville and Cincinnati to keep pace if they’re to stand any chance of winning the conference’s inaugural championship.
Both teams will be in action on Saturday. We preview each game here, bringing you the latest odds and trends.
But first, let’s take a closer look at Thursday night’s game.
No. 18 Central Florida 41, Rutgers 17
No. 18 Central Florida (9-1, 6-0 American) moved one step closer to the American Athletic Conference title with a win over a slumping Rutgers (5-5, 2-4 American) side that has lost four of the last five.
The Knights opened a 21-0 lead midway through the second quarter and never looked back. Quarterback Blake Bortles completed 21 of 30 passes for 335 yards and a touchdown. He also ran in for a touchdown as he tallied 32 yards on the ground.
Storm Johnson carried the ball 16 times amassing 75 yards and a pair of touchdowns. The Knights as a team scored four rushing touchdowns, more than enough to see the side past the Scarlet Knights, who were limited to just 221 total yards.
Rutgers scored on a rushing touchdown from Paul James and Andre Patton’s blocked punt recovery in the end zone. The latter moved the team within 14 points, the smallest margin after in the final three quarters. Kyle Federico kicked a 35-yard field goal for a consolation score with just 33 seconds left in the game.
Now the Knights will look ahead to next Friday’s game against South Florida. A win in that game will effectively hand UCF the conference title.
Cincinnati at Houston
Rice Stadium, Houston, TX, 12:00 p.m. ET (matchup)
Before Central Florida can even think of celebrating, they’ll need to see how the rest of this week’s schedule plays out.
Cincinnati (8-2, 5-1 American) is one of two teams that still has an outside shot at the title. The Bearcats face Houston (7-3, 4-2 American) on Saturday knowing anything less than a win will all but end their title hopes.
Houston’s title hopes were extinguished with UCF’s win on Thursday, although those hopes were virtually non-existent following the Cougars’ 20-13 loss to Louisville last week, which came on the back of a 19-14 loss to the Knights. Still, the Cougars can play spoiler to Cincinnati’s championship aspirations.
Cincinnati has won three straight against Houston and seven of nine dating back to 1975, but the Bearcats will open as the underdog.
Cincinnati Bearcats vs. Houston Cougars odds for 11/23/2013
The spread opened at 2.5 and has increased slightly to 3 with some sportsbooks. Houston (9-1-0 ATS) has dominated the spread this season, failing to cover just once. Cincinnati (5-5-0 ATS) meanwhile has been consistently inconsistent against the spread. That being said, the Bearcats have covered in three of their last four games.
The over/under opened at 58 and has risen slightly. Cincinnati (6-4-0) has marginally favored the over, while Houston (5-5-0) has split the over/under evenly.
Memphis at No. 21 Louisville
Papa John’s Cardinal Stadium, Louisville, KY, 12:00 p.m. ET (matchup)
If No. 21 Louisville is to walk away from its only season in the American Athletic Conference a champion, the team needs to win both of its remaining games and then hope Central Florida slip up in both of their final games. That’s a lot to ask.
The Cardinals (9-1, 5-1 American) can complete half of the first task with a win over Memphis (3-6, 1-4 American) on Saturday. The Tigers are on a two game winning streak, having won back-to-back games for the first time this season. Sadly for Justin Fuente’s side, neither of those opponents were of the caliber of Saturday’s opponent.
Memphis Tigers vs. Louisville Cardinals odds for 11/23/2013
Since 1980, Louisville has gone 19-5 against Memphis, including wins in the last three meetings between the schools.
Louisville opens as the favorite, with the spread – which opened at 22.5 – currently at 23. This is not expected to be a close game. The Cardinals (4-6-0 ATS) have been less than stellar against the spread this season. The Tigers (5-4-0 ATS) haven’t been much better, but they have been better. Louisville has covered the spread just once in the last six games. Memphis has covered in back-to-back games.
The over/under opened at 43.5 and has slipped to 43. Both Memphis (2-7-0) and Louisville (2-8-0) have heavily favored the under this season.
Around the Conference
Outside of the title race, Southern Methodist (4-5, 3-2 American) will look to keep its Bowl aspirations alive, at least for this week. The Mustangs have won three of the last four but will need to win out if they’re to be offered a Bowl berth. That’s an unlikely scenario considering Houston and Central Florida remain on the schedule.
Still, the side can at least take a shot at it. They’ll need to get the better of a first ever meeting with South Florida (2-7, 2-3 American). The Bulls have dropped three straight, but a surprise win over the Bearcats earlier in the season illustrates that this is a team not to be taken lightly. The Mustangs opened as the favorite.
The remaining game in the American sees winless Connecticut (0-9, 0-5 American) travel to Philadelphia to take on Temple (1-9, 0-6 American). With one win between them, this is hardly an enthralling matchup, but both teams have tested some of the conference’s best sides in recent weeks so this could be a bit of a sleeper. The Owls are favored by more than a touchdown.
American Athletic Conference Schedule (Week 12)
Rutgers 17, No. 18 Central Florida 41
Saturday (All times ET)
12:00 Cincinnati (8-2, 5-1 American) at Houston (7-3, 4-2 American) (matchup)
12:00 Memphis (3-6, 1-4 American) at No. 21 Louisville (9-1, 5-1 American) (matchup)
7:00 Southern Methodist (4-5, 3-2 American) at South Florida (2-7, 2-3 American) (matchup)
7:00 Connecticut (0-9, 0-5 American) at Temple (1-9, 0-6 American) (matchup)
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