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Not many have seen Central Florida play this year, but they are getting a lot of respect due to a 3-0 record and last year's successful 10-win season. However, they haven't played a SEC team yet. South Carolina comes in at 2-1 and this may be their easiest game to date, already having two SEC matchups and another one against North Carolina. The Gamecocks are -7.5 point road favorites at 5 Dimes sportsbook.
UCF has covered in all three games this year, including a road win at Penn State as underdogs. Not surprisingly, the Gamecocks are drawing the majority of the early betting action as of Tuesday afternoon when this is being written as 76% of the early action at sportsbook.com has come in on the Gamecocks.
The Knights have a lot of returning players from last year's squad, including quarterback Blake Bortles, who's still only a junior. Bortles is passing the ball a lot better this year, completing passes at 71.4 percent for seven TDs, while throwing it further down the field (11.7 yards per attempt). He also has the ability to run out of the pocket as seen last year, but hasn't really had to yet. Bortles is joined by Storm Johnson in the backfield, who already has 305 yards and six touchdowns, including a 117-yard day against Penn State. UCF isn't unfamiliar to this situation and they are coming off a bye which helps even more.
The last time UCF lost at home was against Missouri last year, 21-16. A couple big plays hurt the Knights in that game and cost them a result. However, South Carolina is going to be a bigger task than Missouri.
The Gamecocks started the season with a tough schedule, but it's starting to lighten up until they get Florida and Clemson in November. They're also coming off a bye, which means players like Jadeveon Clowney are going to be rested.
It's going to take a big effort for UCF to stop South Carolina's offense. The running combo of Mike Davis and quarterback Connor Shaw will be the first task. Davis has already carved through a few opponents and has 341 yards and three TDs on the year. Shaw should also be able to beat the Knights through the air with the help of Bruce Ellington and Shaq Roland. Shaw has six touchdowns for the season, but maybe more importantly, no interceptions.
South Carolina has all of the edges in this game, but UCF will be on their home field. Will that be enough to make it a close game?
The Gamecocks have covered in four straight following a bye week and are 9-2 ATS in their last 11 games following a ATS loss. The Knights are 4-1 ATS in their last five home games, but only 1-5 ATS in their last six following a bye. Playing against Steve Spurrier coming off a bye is going to take a lot of work to say the least.
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