The AAC is a conference transitioning from being dominated by the likes of Cincinnati and Central Florida over the past several years to one that is ushering in several new teams like Florida Atlantic, UTSA and more.
While there are plenty of exciting teams staying in the AAC, the new crop of teams have plenty of upside and have a path to competing as early as this year. One team to keep an eye on is Florida Atlantic, who enters as the fifth choice to win the conference under first year head coach Tom Herman.
On the other side of the coin, Tulsa has a new head coach in Kevin Wilson, but not be primed for success.
Here is a win total over and under I am playing in the 2023 college football season.
Florida Atlantic OVER 7.5 Wins (+100)
The team is transitioning from Conference USA to the AAC, but I believe the Owls have the talent to hit the ground running this year. The team hired Herman this offseason, who has been a quick starter at new jobs. Herman improved Houston by five games in his first season there and two games at Texas. FAU won five games last year, can the team take a jump?
I'm bullish for a few reasons.
The team has options at quarterback with Central Michigan transfer Daniel Richardson and Penn State transfer Michael Johnson, but Herman reunited with former Texas QB Casey Thompson, who has the talent to be a top three QB in the conference.
Whoever starts at quarterback, the team has an elite running back next to him in Larry McCammon III, who rushed for over 1,000 yards last year. The team also brings back three starters on the for a group that was top 30 in offensive line yards and top 20 in sacks allowed. At wide receiver, the quarterback has the No. 1 target from last seasons team in LaJontay Wester back.
The offense was fine last year, and should be better this year, but the defense was terrible last year. The team was 110th in success rate last season and outside the top 100 in yards per play, allowing over six yards per play.
However, with Herman taking over, and 18 of 19 defenders that played 250-plus snaps back, I believe the team can take a tangible step forward. With a high ceiling on offense, I don't think the defense needs to be stellar for the team to hit this win total, just not awful.
Further, the schedule sets up nicely for the Owls, who play all of its elite AAC foes in Boca Raton, hosting UTSA and Tulane this season. While the team has to go to Clemson and Illinois in back-to-back games, I make them considerable favorites against Ohio and massive favorites against Monmouth.
In AAC play, the team will be favored or small underdogs in six games with two of which come at home. Assuming the team wins the two home games against East Carolina and Tulsa in addition to the two non conference home games, the team needs to go 3-3 in the following games: at South Florida, UTSA, at Charlotte, at UAB, Tulane and at Rice.
At a cheap price, and with a ton of untapped upside under new coach Herman, I'll take a shot at the over.
Tulsa UNDER 4.5 Wins (-105)
Tulsa went 5-7 last year and fired its head coach Phil Montgomery, moving on to Ohio State offensive coordinator Kevin Wilson, and I believe we are going to see a complete valley for this team in 2023.
Tulsa is bottom 10 in returning production this season, per ESPN.com, and didn't announce a defensive coordinator until the middle of May, which is highly concerning for a team that is trying to shuffle in a host of new pieces that must replace its top four players in terms of tackles for loss, including Justin Wright, who had 10.5 TFLs with two interceptions and two fumble recoveries.
On offense, the team returns Braylon Braxton at quarterback, who got time when Davis Brin was hurt last year. While he showed some dual-threat chops, the team has essentially no wide receivers back from last years team.
The offensive line has three starters back on the interior, but the team was bottom 10 in sacks allowed and the offense wasn't that efficient in the passing game, outside the top 90 in completion percentage, so I'm not sure this passing game will take a step forward.
Tulsa played in 5 one score games, all of which had each team score 27 or more points, and the team will likely need to score a ton to win games. I'm skeptical it'll all click in year one under Wilson, who is 26-47 all time as a head coach.
The schedule features Arkansas-Pine Bluff before a cross country trip to Washington and Oklahoma. After that it's on the road against Northern Illinois which is a small spread game. In conference play, the team has two likely wins in Charlotte and Rice, but after that it's tough to find wins.
The team hosts Temple and North Texas, but will be big underdogs at FAU, SMU Tulane and East Carolina.
I think the floor is far lower than the height of the ceiling in Tulsa.
Game odds refresh periodically and are subject to change.