UCF is undefeated, yet still doesn’t have a spot in the AAC title Game locked up. That’s because USF, the preseason favorite, is sitting right behind with only one loss. In a Game that could decide the AAC champion and even more in bowl season, the Knights were -11 point home favorites as of Monday at 5Dimes Sportsbook.
UCF was expected to be good, but maybe not at this level, scoring a nation high 47.5 points per Game. If anyone in this Conference was to reach those numbers, many thought it would’ve been USF. But that ship has sailed and the difference between these teams isn’t only in the loss. South Florida has that one loss, yet has been far from dominant in its wins, beating teams like Tulsa and Tulane by only single digits. A home loss to Houston also wasn’t that great. For perspective, Central Florida’s closest wins (Navy, SMU) have all come on the road against teams with winning records. If only we got to see this team play Georgia Tech earlier in the year (it was cancelled due to a hurricane).
While head coach SCott Frost looks headed elsewhere, he’s still with the team and in a great spot to go undefeated. USF allows less than 20 points per Game, but this defense has been far from good this season. Those numbers are mostly due to Schedule and playing in the AAC. The Bulls won this Game 48-31 last year, but things were a bit different then, mainly because the Knights already had five losses at that point.
McKenzie Milton has been possibly the most underrated quarterback in the country, completing almost 70 percent of his passes for 26 touchdowns and just five interceptions. A lot of that is Schedule, but scoring at least 40 points in every home Game this season is impressive. Milton’s been unstoppable with touchdown magnet Tre’Quan Smith (11 TDs) leading the receiving corps, but the running Game is also averaging 5.3 yards per carry. Milton’s mobility (373 rushing yards) has helped in that aspect along with top running back Adrian Killins.
USF doesn’t have a winning record against the spread because its defense has continually disappointed and the offense isn’t scoring at the same rate as a year ago. That said, expecting senior quarterback Quinton Flowers to lay down in possibly his final regular season Game would be a mistake. Flowers has been everything for this team the last few years and while he’s not putting in as good of numbers as a year ago, the offense is still on his back, as he leads the team with 870 rushing yards and nine touchdowns. His 53.5 completion rate has been an issue all season, but that’s something the team has lived with for the most part. That’s because running backs Darius Tice (860 yards, 10 TDs) and D’Ernest Johnson (715 yards, 7 TDs) have done the rest for the offense with the team averaging 5.1 yards per carry.
UCF doesn’t have as good of defensive numbers, although still allow just 20.5 points per Game. The number that stands out is their 155 rushing yards per Game allowed and that’s exactly where USF can attack, similar to last season when they ran for 351 yards. UCF is the huge favorite, but going against Flowers will be a difficult task, especially if the ground Game works for USF.
The Bulls are 5-1 ATS vs. a team with a winning record, but 1-5 ATS in their last six road Games. The Knights are surprisingly 2-5-1 ATS vs. a team with a winning record. In this matchup, USF has covered in six of the last eight meetings, although has been the favorite in all of those Games.
Our Pick – South Florida +9.5