- UCF (+125) has opened as the favorite to win the AAC in 2020
- 2019 conference champion Memphis has the second-best odds (+225)
- Read below for our best early bet to win the AAC in 2020
Oddsmakers are favoring Central Florida to return to the top of the AAC in 2020. The Knights have opened as the conference favorite after failing to play in the title game for the first time in three years last season.
Memphis has the next-best odds at +225 despite losing their head coach, while Cincinnati is only listed at +300 despite having the best recruiting class out of all Group Five programs.
Which AAC team should you place an early bet on in the Conference Champion odds?
2020 AAC Championship Odds
Odds taken March 27.
Knights Favored To Bounce Back
UCF is favored to win the AAC in 2020 after turning in a third consecutive double-digit win season in 2019. The Knights were AAC champions in 2017 and 2018 but saw their winning streak come to an end last year due to three close losses. They still managed to finish the season on a positive note, earning a convincing 48-25 win over Marshall in the Gasparilla Bowl.
They’re favored to return to the top due to their electric offense and improving defense. UCF ranked second in the nation in total offense last season (540.5 YPG) and also finished 31st in total defense after ranking 95th the year prior. The Knights are returning a plethora of talent in both areas, including at QB with Dillon Gabriel, who impressed as a freshman with 3,653 passing yards and 27 TDs.
The Knights lost their three games last season by a total of just seven points and were burned by nine turnovers in those contests. They’ll be motivated to return to the top and should improve on the 111 penalties they took, which were fourth-most in FBS.
Memphis Loses Mike Norvell
Memphis defeated Cincinnati to win the AAC in 2019, but the Tigers aren’t being favored to repeat in 2020 with major loss on the sidelines. Well-respected head coach Mike Norvell has joined FSU after leading Memphis to it’s first ever conference championship and third straight division title.
Mike Norvell Signing Day Press Conference https://t.co/muAEflZvZY
— FSU Football (@FSUFootball) February 5, 2020
Norvell was an impressive 38-15 in four seasons with the Tigers and will be replaced by Ryan Silverfield, who was the team’s offensive line coach for the past four seasons and was promoted to head coach in 2019. Silverfield was also the team’s run game coordinator since 2017 and has helped the Tigers become a lethal force on the ground.
Losing Norvell is tough, but Silverfield has plenty of experience with the system and should be a good fit. The team also has to deal with losing its entire defensive staff, but there’s still lots of talent returning on the field. QB Brady White and RB Kenneth Gainwell were among the best in the conference at their positions last season and will lead the charge for the Tigers again in 2020.
Cincinnati Boasts Impressive Recruiting Class
The Bearcats have the third-best odds to win the AAC in 2020 after suffering a close 29-24 loss at the hands of Memphis in the title game last year. One primary reason to be excited about Cincinnati is their elite 2020 recruiting class that is considered the best out of Group Five programs.
— Cincinnati Football (@GoBearcatsFB) March 24, 2020
The Bearcats currently have 22 signees, including three four-star prospects in QB Evan Prater (Wyoming High), lB Jaheim Thomas (Princeton High) and wideout Jadon Thompson (Naperville, Ill.). No other AAC program landed a single four-star recruit.
The best news for the Bearcats might be that esteemed head coach Luke Fickell is returning despite rumors he may take the job at Michigan State. The former Ohio State coach has led Cincinnati to consecutive 11-win seasons and will get his starting QB Desmond Ridder back in 2020.
Longshots With Value?
The odds are saying that it’s a three-horse race for the AAC title in 2020. The teams with the next-best odds are Navy and SMU at +1400. Is there value betting on a longshot to emerge in 2020?
Man, it felt good to be back out on that field.
— SMU FootbaII (@SMU_Football) March 9, 2020
Both the Midshipmen and Mustangs are coming off double-digit win seasons and were undefeated at home in 2019. SMU is my favorite longshot out of the bunch after their offense went off in 2019, finishing ninth in the country with 485.2 yards per game. I still don’t think they’re worth betting on, as they have to replace top running backs Xavier Jones and Ke’Mon Freeman, while their defense leaves lots to be desired.
Navy is also a potential longshot, but it’s hard to see them improving much when they have the worst-ranked recruiting class in the conference. They were dismantled by Notre Dame in their matchup last season and have to face the Fighting Irish again in their 2020 opener. The Midshipmen have also lost their starting QB Malcolm Perry and lack the elite talent of the three AAC powerhouses.
Cincinnati has some very intriguing value at +300 with their electric recruiting class, but the return of Gabriel to UCF’s high-powered offense makes them the best early bet heading into next season.
The Knights blew out most of their opponents last season and kept their losses very close. A huge conference game in 2020 will be the one between the Knights and Bearcats in Florida in November. Cincinnati held home field advantage in the 2019 matchup and the Knights will get it this time. UCF has yet to lose to Cincinnati in Orlando.
With the Knights returning 17 of 22 starters, having one of the best coaches in Josh Heupel and an improving QB in Gabriel, they’re the AAC team to beat in 2020.
Pick: UCF (+125)
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