• Cincinnati wants to become the first school from a Group of Six conference to reach the College Football Playoff.
  • Houston has won 11 straight since a season defeat to Texas Tech
  • The Bearcats seek their second straight AAC crown in their third straight appearance in the title game.

Everything is on the line for Houston and Cincinnati in the American Athletic Conference Championship game. The Bearcats, who sat as the last team in for the National Football Playoff, need to make a statement to leave no doubt they deserve to be one of the four teams invited to compete for a national championship. Houston, which last won the AAC in 2015, hasn’t lost since September and with four consecutive double-digit victories has improved its record to 11-1 to move into the Top 25.

This game will match up two of the top 10 defenses in the country. Houston is sixth nationally, holding its opponents to 293.4 yards per game. Cincinnati checks in right behind the Cougars in the seventh position, limiting its opponents to 303.2 yards per contest.

Houston vs Cincinnati Matchup at a Glance

Houston Preview: Dangerous Dana finds his groove

When Cougars coach Dana Holgorsen took over the program in 2019, Houston president Renu Khator had established the standard for the program “The winning is defined at the University of Houston at 10-2,” according to the Houston Chronicle. “We’ll fire coaches at 8 and 4.” Holgorsen only won nine games in his first two seasons. Houston turned itself around this season with an effective passing game balanced with a strong running component.

Quarterback Clayton Tune has passed for 3,013 yards, 26 touchdowns, and completes 68.9 percent of his passes. Alton McCaskill leads the team with 885 rushing yards and 16 touchdowns on 162 carries, while Ta’Zhawn Henry also has had a big role carrying the ball 102 times for 527 yards. Houston doesn’t have any victories over teams currently ranked in the top 25.

Cincinnati Preview: Everything or nothing

Cincinnati has been knocking on the door of becoming a power football program for the past 15 years. Despite being left out of the Power 5 during the first round of realignment, the Bearcats’ recent success earned them an invite to the Big 12 next season. Heisman trophy candidate quarterback Desmond Ridder will have a major say if the Bearcats will win their second straight AAC title. Ridder has passed for 3,000 yards and thrown 27 touchdown passes in addition to adding 352 on the ground with six rushing touchdowns.

The Bearcats defense has limited their opponents to 15.8 points per game and scored 90 point off turnovers. Cincinnati is now 12-0 for the second time in program history and the first time since 2009.

Odds & Free Betting Analysis for This College Football Game

The Bearcats are 7-5 against the spread this season. The total has gone under in seven of Cincinnati’s 12 games. Houston leads the all-time series between the two schools 15-12, but the Bearcats have won seven of the last 10 meetings. The Bearcats won the last meeting between the two schools 38-10 in 2020.

Cincinnati is tied with Memphis for the most appearances in the AAC title game with three since the championship game was established in 2015. Houston hasn’t made it back since winning the inaugural game 24-13 over Temple.

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