Stanford travels across the country to take on the UCF Knights and finds themselves as -7.5 point underdogs with a total of 59 at 5 dimes sportsbook.
Stanford quarterback K.J. Costello returns from a head injury this week. Backup Davis Mills was fine early against USC, but his inexperience showed in the second half and that’s the difference Costello provides.
The senior was solid in the opener, completing 16-of-20 passes against a good Northwestern defense and will be needed in this one. Given how Stanford’s defense has looked and that the running game is averaging 3.3 yards per carry, Costello needs to be on his game.
Costello to Challenge UCF Defense
The UCF defense has yet to be challenged, but that’s where Costello enters the picture with top receivers Connor Weddington and tight end Colby Parkinson. Of course, it’d help if Cameron Scarlett could get something going on the ground.
The Cardinal should be able to score in this game as it’s not like the Knights have a dominant defense. They’ve been good early, but gave up 227 rushing yards per contest last year and that still has to be a worry. It’s also relevant that Costello is probably the best quarterback this defense will have faced in a couple years.
Stanford “D” Needs to Step Up
Stanford needs something from its defense after getting torched by USC’s backup. The good news is that the Cardinal have had a decent run defense early and that’s where UCF likes to attack.
Top running backs Adrian Killins and Greg McCrae are both averaging 6.2 yards per carry and the team is at 6.3 combined.
UCF quarterback Darriel Mack was cleared to play after serving as the backup for McKenzie Milton last year. Throw in Dillon Gabriel and Brandon Wimbush, who split starts in the first two games, and the Knights have three different quarterbacks they can use. That’s not an easy thing to prepare for, especially with how potent this offense can be.
Early Sharp Money on Stanford
Costello can be an elite quarterback when at the top of his game and if Scarlett can get going, there’s no reason the Cardinal can’t consistently score. Sure, there’s a question about stopping UCF on the other end, but with a spread more than seven points, the opening is there for a cover.
The Cardinal are 17-4 ATS following a straight-up loss and the Knights have covered in their last four following a win by more than 20 points.
The telltale sign of sharp money on a football game is when an overwhelming amount of action comes in on one side of the game yet the line moves the other way. That’s precisely what we see here early in the week with around 90% of the tickets being written on UCF yet the line nudging down from 7.5.
Our Pick – Stanford +7.5
Read our Stanford Season Preview