Last week of the non-conference slate here as the toasts of Conference USA and the AAC will clash here in Florida. FAU started off with a blowout loss to Oklahoma, but has rebounded with wins the past two weeks. UCF is coming off an unexpected bye week as last week’s game against UNC was cancelled due to the Hurricane, and enters this contest 2-0.
FAU’s Defense Has Struggled
FAU was the subject of a lot of offseason hype due to last year’s success under head coach Lane Kiffin. FAU routed North Texas 41-17 in the Conference USA championship game on their way to an 11-3 season that saw them go a perfect 8-0 in conference. Many thought they had the potential to upset Oklahoma in Week 1 this year, but they were demolished 63-14.
They’ve since won two straight games, albeit against inferior competition. They gave up 27 points to Air Force and then 28 to FCS school Bethune-Cookman. All told, they’re giving up an average of 39.3 points per game. The scheduling couldn’t be worse for FAU, as they’ll be on a short week on Friday night while UCF will be playing on extended rest because of their Week 3 cancellation.
UCF’s offense has been a well-oiled machine through the two games they did play and is a nightmare opponent for FAU’s leaky defense. They’ve averaged 306 rushing yards through two games and have been efficient both on the ground and through the air. They’ve averaged 7.87 yards per pass attempt and 7.4 yards per rush attempt as a team. While Kiffin always has enough to tricks up his sleeve to put up points, this FAU team is simply not as good as last year’s. They have a new quarterback and their defense will likely be on its heels all game against UCF’s potent offense.
UCF Well Rested
UCF, of course, is coming off a 13-0 season that culminated in a Peach Bowl victory over Auburn. They lost coach Scott Frost to Nebraska this offseason, but haven’t shown any signs of a drop off through two games. They destroyed Connecticut and South Carolina State in their first two contests, winning by a combined 77 points.
While UCF surely would’ve welcomed the opportunity to knock off a Power 5 opponent in North Carolina, the cancellation of last week’s game will ultimately prove to be a blessing, especially ahead of a midweek game. UCF will be well rested and healthy and facing a team that should wear down fast. FAU’s tired defense will play right into the hand of UCF’s potent rushing attack.
As mentioned above, the Knights’ rushing attack can be lethal. It’s a balanced attack that has seen six different players notch double digit attempts this season. While FAU is their stiffest test to date, I don’t expect the offense to slow down much against a team that had trouble stopping the likes of Air Force and Bethune-Cookman. Still bitter about last year’s College Football Playoff Snub, I expect them to want to come out and make a statement here in their highest profile game of the season thus far.
The Knights are:
- 4-1 ATS in their last 5 games in September
- 6-2 ATS in their last 8 games after allowing less than 275 total yards in their previous game
- Knights are 5-2-1 ATS in their last 8 games after allowing less than 170 yards passing in their previous game
The Owls are:
- 1-4 ATS in their last 5 non-conference games
- 0-4 ATS in their last 4 Friday games
- Owls are 8-18-1 ATS in their last 27 games on grass
The Bottom Line What to bet on this game.
Full-Game Side Bet
UCF has won 15 straight games and I don’t expect that streak to come close to ending here. FAU’s defense has been atrocious thus far and UCF should have no problem scoring at will. FAU may well land a blow or two offensively, but I think the Knights should have no problem clearing a multiple touchdown lead here. At home and on extended rest, -13.5 is a very solid bet.
Prediction: UCF -13.5
Full-Game Total Pick
While FAU is clearly taking a step back this year, Kiffin is still one of the better offensive coaches in college football. He’ll come out with a solid gameplan and should be able to put up a decent amount of points here. It’s his defense which is the real problem, and I expect UCF to score in the 40’s. The game has the potential to be a shootout, and as such I really like the over here.
Prediction: Over 69.5
Full-Game Prop Bet
If you’re looking for a prop to bet, this is one way to look. Betting UCF on an adjusted line makes some sense, as there’s a good chance it’s a blowout. In a game with a total this high, a 20+ point victory wouldn’t be at all surprising and you can get 2/1 here. That’s pretty good value for something that certainly has a decent chance of happening.
Prediction: UCF -20.5 +200
Half-Time Side Pick
Laying a touchdown might seem like a lot here, but it’s really not considering how poor FAU’s defense is. In a game with a total this high, it would be surprising if the lead isn’t above seven points at this point, and it’s almost certainly going to be UCF holding the lead. I expect them to get off to a hot start and never look back here.
Prediction: UCF -7
Half-Time Total Bet
I expect both teams to be aggressive early on and air it out. This has the potential to be a very fast paced game with an abundance of points. If FAU gets down early, they’ll likely start chucking the ball even more trying to catch up, making sure no clock is chewed up. Expect this one to be a high scoring affair right from the opening kick.