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CINCINNATI, OHIO - NOVEMBER 20: Desmond Ridder #9 of the Cincinnati Bearcats throws a pass in the first quarter against the SMU Mustangs at Nippert Stadium on November 20, 2021 in Cincinnati, Ohio. Dylan Buell/Getty Images/AFP (Photo by Dylan Buell / GETTY IMAGES NORTH AMERICA / Getty Images via AFP)

It's the most important American Athletic Conference Championship Game in history on Saturday when No. 4-ranked Cincinnati hosts No. 21 Houston. Find out who we side with in our Houston versus Cincinnati picks.

It's not just the most important AAC Championship Game ever, it’s the most important Group of Five title game in history. Of course, no Group of Five school has reached the College Football Playoff, but that drought surely will end on Selection Sunday if Cincinnati wins.

Unfortunately for the AAC, neither Cincinnati nor Houston will be in the league much longer as they are headed to the Big 12, but that's a story for another day.

The Bearcats are 1-1 all-time in this game, winning it last year 27-24 over Tulsa. The Cougars are 1-0 in it, beating Temple in the 2015 inaugural edition.

Houston leads the all-time series 15-12, but is 5-7 in Cincinnati.

Here are my picks and predictions for the AAC Championship Game matchup between Houston and Cincinnati (Odds via DraftKings; pick confidence based on a 1-to-5 star scale).

Houston vs. Cincinnati Game Info

Date/Time: Saturday, Dec. 4, 4 p.m. ETTV: ABCLocation: Nippert Stadium, Cincinnati, OHWeather: Mix of sun and clouds

Houston vs. Cincinnati Odds Analysis

The spread opened at Cincinnati -10 at most books and is up to -10.5 everywhere even though the early lean is about 68% on Houston. The Cougars are a stellar 9-1 against the spread in their past 10 as double-digit dogs. Cincinnati is 1-0 SU and 4-6 ATS in its last 10 as a double-digit favorite.

The total opened as high as 55 and has dropped to 53 despite a better than 70% lean on Houston.

Houston vs. Cincinnati Picks

Houston +10.5 (-110) ???Over 53 (-110) ???

SEE ALSO: Michigan vs. Iowa Big Ten Championship Picks

Houston vs. Cincinnati Predictions

Houston +10.5 (-110)

I see no path for Cincinnati to miss out on the playoff, even if the Bearcats struggle all day and have to win in the final seconds. That Houston is ranked No. 21 in the latest rankings will help UC's strength of schedule. The only other ranked school that Cincinnati faced was Notre Dame on Oct. 2.

Speaking of the Irish, will this week be a distraction around the Cincinnati program? Reports are that Notre Dame is targeting coach Luke Fickell to replace Brian Kelly, who left for LSU. Kelly himself came from Cincinnati as well. Fickell is a Midwest Catholic so if there's one job he might consider a dream, it's probably Notre Dame. Would he really leave, though, after making history with a Group of Five school?

Which Cincinnati will show up? The one that has trucked most of its conference foes or the one that struggled versus Navy, Tulane, and Tulsa?

Houston lost its opener to out-of-conference opponent Texas Tech, but has had little trouble since then, other than a home overtime win over East Carolina on Oct. 23. Cincinnati routed ECU 35-13 last week.

For what it's worth, Cincinnati beat visiting Houston 38-10 last season behind four total touchdowns from Bearcats QB Desmond Ridder, including three on the ground. UC rushed for a whopping 342 yards and four scores. Cougars QB Clayton Tune only threw for 189 and a pick. This year's UH team is way better, though.

Houston is 20-7-1 ATS in its last 28 as a road dog. Cincinnati is 1-6-1 ATS in its past eight December games.

Over 53 (-110)

Looking at a few models out there, the consensus is that about 58 points will be scored. Since the Week 1 loss, Houston has scored at least 31 points in every game but one.

UH is one of four FBS teams ranked inside the top 10 nationally for both scoring offense and total defense, joining Alabama, Cincinnati, and Georgia. The Cougars are averaging 38.8 points per game (10th) and holding opponents to 288.6 yards per contest (sixth).

Over his last seven games, Tune has thrown for 2,029 yards, 19 TDs, and two picks. He ranks 13th nationally in pass efficiency (159.7), 14th in completion percentage (68.7), and 15th in passing touchdowns (26).

Ridder (12,072 career total yards) broke the AAC and Cincinnati total yardage records last week in the win over ECU by throwing for 301 yards, his second 300-yard performance in his last three games. He also became the AAC's all-time leader in total touchdowns in the game with 113.

On the other side of the ball, Cincinnati ranks third in the nation in scoring defense (15.8), third in pass yards allowed (161.5), third in interceptions (17), third in yards per play allowed (4.3), third in TD passes allowed (8) and eighth in total defense (303.3).

I expect a scoreline such as 34-24 in favor of Cincinnati, so I'm going Over. The Over is 5-1 in Houston's past six on the road and 9-2 in UC's past 11 in December.

SEE ALSO: All picks and odds. Be sure to check out’s community forums and betting tools.

Houston-Cincinnati picks made 11/30/2021 at 8:57 p.m. ET