Cincinnati vs. Houston Odds: Opening Spread, Total for 2021 AAC Championship Game

Cincinnati vs. Houston Odds: Opening Spread, Total for 2021 AAC Championship Game article feature image

Dylan Buell/Getty Images. Pictured: Desmond Ridder.

Cincinnati vs. Houston Odds

Cincinnati Odds-10.5
Houston Odds+10.5
TimeSaturday, 4 p.m. ET
LocationCincinnati, Ohio
Odds via FanDuel. Get up-to-the-minute college football odds here.

The Cincinnati Bearcats are looking to become the first Group of 5 team to reach the College Football Playoff. And to have a chance, they'll need to get through the Houston Cougars.

Cincy was No. 4 in the CFP rankings entering the final week of the regular season and took care of business against ECU to finish unbeaten.

The AAC Championship Game is one of just a few to be played at the home stadium of the higher-seeded team, so Cincinnati will host Houston at Nippert Stadium.

These two teams didn't play in the regular season. Houston lost its opened to Texas Tech, then ripped off 11-straight wins. Since that loss, the Cougars have only scored fewer than 31 points once.

Cincinnati hit a little bit of a lull midseason, failing to cover in four straight games as a 20-plus point favorite. But the Bearcats turned it on in the final two games, blowing out SMU and ECU just as the doubters started showing up.

Houston has been on a steady climb in our power ratings throughout the year.  The Cougars boast a strong passing attack under veteran QB Clayton Tune, and an elite pass and rush defense — all three of those units finished top 30 in EPA per play.

How Cincinnati Got Here

Preseason AAC Odds-160
Power Rating Rank8th

The Cincinnati Bearcats are America’s darling. Or most of America’s darling, anyway, as some people think they belong nowhere near the College Football Playoff.

You can only beat the teams in front of you and Cincinnati has done just that. They head into the American Athletic Conference championship with a perfect 12-0 record highlighted by a win on the road at Notre Dame — another team that could sneak into the playoff.

The Bearcats, despite being massively favored over most of their conference opponents, still managed to go 7-5 against the spread. They had a stretch where they didn’t cover in four games but have covered in their last two games.

Cincy is led by quarterback Desmond Ridder, who has thrown for 3,000 yards, 27 touchdowns and eight interceptions this season. He has also added 342 yards and six touchdowns on the ground.

Cincinnati boasts the fifth-ranked scoring defense in the nation, allowing just 15.8 points per game. They also have the 21st-best scoring offense in the nation at 39.2 points per game, a good combination for winning football games, as it turns out.

How Houston Got Here

Preseason AAC Odds+1200
Power Rating Rank37th

Houston caught a lot of people by surprise this season. And you can't blame them — the Cougars finished 7-13 in their first two seasons under Dana Holgerson.

But QB Clayton Tune was healthy, the defense took a major step forward and Houston rolled through the AAC.

But there are very few impressive wins on Houston's schedule.

The Cougars beat SMU 44-37. Their non-conference wins game over Rice and Grambling State. They didn't play UCF or Cincy in the AAC regular season.

Houston hasn't appeared in the AAC Championship Game since winning the inaugural game in 2015, when it beat Temple. Cincinnati is making its second appearance after beating Tulsa last season.

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