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Group of Five Rundown: Huge Showdown in AAC

The Sun Belt Conference was the talk of the college football world during the first couple of weeks of the season with upsets and near-upsets happening on a regular basis. With league play kicking into high gear throughout the country, it is a reminder of just how many quality teams there are in the American Athletic Conference.

With two of the six games highlighted in the weekly Group of Five conference rundown, this is another week when AAC games will generate plenty of interest from those who bet online.

Branden Jennings #44 of the UCF Knights celebrates after a blocked kick during the third quarter
Megan Briggs - Getty Images - AFP

The two best games on the AAC schedule have lines ranging from two to four points. Conference USA has four games projected by the college football lines to be one-score affairs. With the exception of the Mountain West, the story is the same for the other Group of Five conferences so this could be a fun week.

Let’s check the latest NCAAF picks, stats, injury reports, and NCAAF predictions. We’ve plenty of NCAAF expert picks for you to consider.

Here is a look at some of the top games to watch.

Game of the Week

SMU Mustangs vs UCF Knights

  • Date, time, TV: Saturday, 3:30 p.m. ET (ESPNU)
  • Line: UCF -3½

It will be strength against strength with Southern Methodist taking the third-ranked offense in the American Athletic Conference up against UCF’s No. 2-rated defense.

SMU rolled to a 55-28 win in last year’s matchup with UCF Knights. It was the first meeting between the teams since the Knights won 48-20 when listed by the college football picks as 25-point favorites in 2018.

These teams are as different as the quarterbacks. SMU’s Tanner Mordecai tops the AAC with 166 attempts, 97 completions, and 1,385 passing yards, and is tied for the lead with 12 touchdown passes. UCF’s John Rhys Plumlee has topped 100 rushing yards in three of four games as the former Ole Miss QB is the conference’s leading rusher.

The SMU duo of Nelson Paul and Elijah Chapman have combined for six sacks, while Tre’Mon Morris-Brash of the Knights is among the conference leaders in both sacks and tackles for loss.

Other Games to Watch

Utah State Aggies vs Brigham Young Cougars

  • Date, time, TV: Thursday, 8 p.m. ET (ESPN)
  • Line: Brigham Young -24½

Utah State came into the season as reigning Mountain West champions. However, the failure to run away from a horrible UConn team in the season opener served as a sign of things to come. The 1-3 Aggies have dropped three games in a row. The Aggies are averaging about 100 fewer yards per game than they did a season ago.

It’s always a big deal when BYU faces another team from Utah and this should be a spirited showdown.

BYU quarterback Jaren Hall, a potential first-round pick in the 2023 NFL Draft, is living up to the hype with 1,164 passing yards while completing 71.5% of his passes with nine touchdown passes and just one interception in the first four games. The Cougars have allowed just one opponent to top 200 passing yards.

After back-to-back wins by Utah State, BYU has won the last two matchups – both on the road – and covered against the college football odds in each of them

Tulane Green Wave vs Houston Cougars

  • Date, time, TV: Friday, 7 p.m. ET (ESPN)
  • Line: Houston -2½

This is another big game in the American.

Tulane has seen a complete turnaround on defense. After allowing 34 points per game in 2021, the Green Wave has surrendered just 11.8 in its first four games. They have done that with only four sacks and 22 tackles for loss.

Tulane’s defense has allowed just five plays from scrimmage of at least 20 yards and that is the lowest mark in the country. They will be facing a Houston squad still searching for answers on offense. Houston is in the middle of the pack in most offensive categories and the Cougars have settled for field goals eight times on 20 trips to the red zone.

Houston has won three of the last four games against Tulane and covered in each of those victories.

UTSA Roadrunners vs Middle Tennessee Blue Raiders

  • Date, time, TV: Friday, 7:30 p.m. ET (CBS Sports Network)
  • Line: UTSA -4

What will Middle Tennessee (3-1) do for an encore after heading to Florida and stunning Miami while being listed by the college football odds as a 25½-point underdog?

Quarterback Chase Cunningham is coming off a game when he averaged 25.5 yards per completion and accounted for four touchdowns.

Texas-San Antonio quarterback Frank Harris threw for nearly 400 yards with four touchdowns in a win against Texas Southern.

He could be challenged by a Blue Raiders defense that leads Conference USA with 16 sacks.

UTSA has won the last three games in the series, including a 27-13 win when listed by the college football predictions as an 11½-point favorite at home.

Coastal Carolina vs Georgia Southern Panthers

  • Date, time, TV: Saturday, 4 p.m. ET (ESPN+)
  • Line: Coastal Carolina -10

No, we did not forget the Sun Belt.

The showdown between Georgia Southern and Coastal Carolina features teams averaging 39.8 and 37 points per game. They both have 24 offensive plays of at least 20 yards, one off Appalachian State’s conference lead.

The squads rank seventh and 12th in the Sun Belt in total defense so this has the potential for some offensive fireworks.

Each of the last two games in the series went under the total. That could change on Saturday.

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