While every game on “Championship Weekend” is a marquee game, not all of them are created equally. The result of the clash between the Tulane Green Wave and the SMU Mustangs will define the Group of Five representation in the New Year’s Six.
So, will Roll Wave sweep aside SMU, or are the Mustangs set to pony up and position themselves for a place in the College Football Playoff rankings? Ahead of the game, we’ve got the latest college football betting odds, DFS picks, and an AAC Championship Game prediction.
AAC Championship Game Betting and DFS Preview
All odds are from DraftKings Sportsbook and correct as of Tuesday, Nov. 28, 2023. Want to take advantage of the AAC Championship Game odds? Visit the College Football Network live college football odds page to place bets in your state.
Tulane -218, SMU +180
- Game time
4 p.m. ET
Yulman Stadium, New Orleans, LA
- Predicted Weather at Kick
64 degrees, 15 mph winds, cloudy
- How to Watch
Are you going to ride a Green Wave all the way to the bank this Saturday? Does the “D” on the side of the SMU helmet stand for dollars, not Dallas? If you’re going to take advantage of the AAC Championship Game odds, consider some of the following factors before you part with your hard-earned cash.
Unsurprisingly, given the circumstances ahead of the game, Tulane enters the matchup as the favorite to win their second successive AAC crown, presumingly securing that NY6 spot at the same time. Although they’re one game back in the head-to-head, the Green Wave halted an SMU seven-game winning streak when the two teams met one year ago.
They should start their own win streak with a victory on Saturday. While being favored isn’t a surprise — given that the Mustangs are without their starting quarterback and offensive catalyst for the game — the 5.5-point spread is perhaps a little interesting. Tulane has won by 10+ in their last two contests, including handling business against a strong UTSA team.
Taking Tulane’s moneyline and spread seems sensible. That leaves just the point total from the AAC Championship Game odds to deliberate. Games involving the Green Wave have come under the line 10 times out of 12 this year, while the Mustangs are 6-6 covering the line. The circumstances around the SMU QB room may make this a low-scoring affair.
Top DFS Picks and Fantasy Plays
- QB Michael Pratt, Tulane
- QB Kevin Jennings, SMU
- QB Alex Padilla, SMU
- RB Makhi Hughes, Tulane
- RB Shedro Louis, Tulane
- RB Arnold Barnes III, Tulane
- RB Jaylan Knighton, SMU
- RB Tyler Lavine, SMU
- RB LJ Johnson Jr., SMU
- RB Camar Wheaton, SMU
- WR Chris Brazzell II, Tulane
- WR Lawrence Keys III, Tulane
- WR Jha’Quan Jackson, Tulane
- WR Yulkeith Brown, Tulane
- WR Jake Bailey, SMU
- WR Jordan Hudson, SMU
- WR Kelvontay Dixon, SMU
- WR Romello Brinson, SMU
- TE Alex Bauman, Tulane
- TE RJ Maryland, SMU
There are eight college football games on the Saturday of Championship Game weekend to compile your DFS team from. If you’re new to DFS, Fanduel Superflex contests require you to select a quarterback, two running backs, three wide receivers, and a “Superflex” that can be any of the above or a tight end.
With the SMU quarterback situation muddied by the loss of starter Preston Stone against Navy, and Michael Pratt not being a significantly high-scoring fantasy QB option, your AAC Championship Game picks should avoid the quarterback position entirely. There are enough options in the other games, such as Appalachian State’s Joey Aguilar or DeQuan Finn at Toledo.
With SMU likely to focus on running the ball in the absence of stone, leading rusher Jaylan Knighton may be a wise DFS selection. That said, the Mustangs have been prone to rotating their rushers, resulting in a split-carry scenario that is good for winning games but not so much for fantasy matchups. Tulane’s Makhi Hughes might be a better add if value allows.
MORE: AAC QB Rankings
The running back situation at SMU is mirrored in the WR room. Six different players have over 20 catches, five have over 400 yards, and the leading pass catcher is tight end RJ Maryland who is a genuine Superflex consideration. Arguably the top receiver in this contest is Chris Brazzell II, who has three touchdowns and an average of 98 yards per game over the last two outings for Tulane.
Prediction for the AAC Championship Game
Okay, so we’ve furnished you with the AAC Championship Game odds and some DFS picks. Now, it’s time to close this thing out with our prediction. Will Tulane win the AAC for the second successive season and secure a place in the NY6? Or will SMU summon up resolve from the loss of Stone and snag their first conference championship since 1984?
SMU enters the AAC Championship Game having lost just two games all season — both to Power Five opponents. They’ve rampaged through the conference, winning by an average point differential of 28.8 — which would have been even more significant if not for Rice and Memphis holding them to five and four-point wins, respectively.
Rhett Lashlee’s team ranks first in the conference for scoring offense (41.8 points per game), for passing yards per attempt (9.1), and for total offensive yards per play (6.55). While their offense has been high-scoring, their defense has been one of the more underrated units in the country, allowing just 17.7 points per game which ranks 13th nationally ahead of the big game.
A duo of Elijah’s — Chatman and Roberts — have lived in the opposition backfield all season long. Meanwhile, eight different players have secured an interception this year, with Isaiah Nwokobia leading the way with three. The defense also boasts a rising star in linebacker Alex Kilgore. The true freshman chose SMU over Tulane and is set to haunt their offense on Saturday.
For as good as SMU’s defense has been this year, Tulane has continued to go from strength to strength. Averaging just 0.6 fewer points per game allowed than their AAC Championship Game opponent, no team has allowed fewer passing touchdowns while securing more interceptions than the Green Wave this year. Throwing on a secondary led by Lance Robinson is ill-advised.
Running on them is perhaps more futile, which is where this game could be decided. Minus QB Stone, SMU may need to run the ball more against a brick wall allowing just 2.95 yards per carry, 86.0 yards per game, and an AAC-low 10 rushing touchdowns. Lean on defense, trust Michael Pratt to be his usual offensive leader, and win a second successive AAC title. Simple.
Prediction: Tulane 27, SMU 19