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BYU vs. UCF Pick – CFB Week 7

The Thursday night (7:30pm ET) game of the week for the 7th week of the 2014 season features the independent BYU Cougars (4-1) traveling to Bright House Networks Stadium in Orlando, FL to take on the UCF Knights (2-2) of the American Athletic Conference. BYU suffered their first loss of the season last week against Utah St. by a score of 35-20, and in the process lost their dynamic dual-threat quarterback Taysom Hill for season with a broken leg. UCF scored an upset win at Houston last week in edging out the Cougars 17-12. The Knights started out the season with consecutive losses to Penn St. (26-24) in their opener in Dublin, and at Missouri in week 2 (38-10), before rebounding with a 41-7 win over Bethune-Cookman and the Houston win last week.

The Cougars rank 47th among FBS teams in scoring offense with 34 points per game and 47th in total offense with 444.4 yards per contest. The loss of Hill is a huge one for BYU as he was the leading rusher as well with 463 yards and 8 TDs; he will be replaced under center by Christian Stewart. Stewart completed 10 of 29 passes for 172 and 3 INTs against Utah St. Defensively BYU ranks 46th in scoring defense with 22 PPG allowed and 61st in total defense with 382.6 YPG allowed.

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UCF ranks 95th nationally in scoring offense with 23 PPG and 119th in total offense with 281 YPG. Sophomore quarterback Justin Holman has thrown for 659 yards with 6 TDs and 2 INTs this season. Defensively UCF ranks 34th among FBS teams in points allowed with 20.8 per game and 30th in total defense with 334.3 YPG allowed.

BYU vs. UCF Spread, Line and Betting Odds:

Spread:

BYU Cougars +3

@UCF Knights -3

Game Total:

Over 46 (-110)

Under 46 (-110)

Betting odds taken from BetOnline.ag

BYU vs. UCF Pick:

BYU won the last meeting between the two teams 24-17 in 2011. The Cougars will have a decidedly different look on offense in this game with Stewart under center; they will not be able to rely on the quarterback running the ball and are likely to take more shots down the field with the deep ball. UCF is tough against the run (106 YPG allowed, 16th nationally), and with Hill out BYU will struggle in that area so the passing game will be emphasized. BYU has struggled defending the pass the last 3 games, allowing over 300 YPG in each game. The good news is that UCF is not equipped to take advantage of this weakness with Holman averaging only 160 YPG through the air (106th nationally). The Knights also struggle to run the ball, ranking 11th in rushing offense with 102.5 YPG. It is going to be difficult for either team to generate much offense, UCF because of their deficiencies on that side of the ball and BYU because of the loss of Hill and the strength of UCF’s defense.

The Cougars will struggle to find an offensive identity without Hill, but they should be able to scrape up enough points to win this one. UCF has trouble scoring on anyone, and this should be an ugly game for both teams. The UNDER is a tempting play here, but the total is too low to make that call. Take the Cougars and the points here.

PICK– BYU +3