This is the type of matchup that a lot of people look forward to. A team from a smaller conference who had an epic season, playing against an opponent from a top-tier conference. Central Florida had a magical year, as they finished the regular season with a record of 12-0. The Knights can cap off the year with a perfect record, doing it against a heavyweight, the Auburn Tigers. In predictable fashion, Scott Frost took the vacant Nebraska Cornhuskers’ job.
While he is leaving, Frost will coach one last game at UCF. It’s his curtain call at a program that he built from the bottom-up. UCF were a winless program in 2015, and Frost took them from the cellar to the Peace Bowl. Can you imagine telling someone back in 2015 that the Knights would be 12-0 in a few years? Almost as crazy as telling someone that an expansion NHL team would have a 26-9-2 and in 1st place.
It should be an emotional time for Frost and his team. A lot of coaches will get the cold shoulder from players when they find out a coach is jumping to another program. However, I think they completely understand this. Frost led Nebraska to a share of the National Championship in 1997. Michigan shared the other half of the championship. He will get to reignite the rivalry against the Wolverines in the Big Ten. Before that, though, Frost will get to go out with a win over Auburn as a Knight.
As 10-point underdogs heading into the Peach Bowl, Frost and the Knights are going to have their work cut out for them. Auburn had playoff aspirations, but three losses was too much to overcome. They closed out the year with a 28-7 loss to Georgia in what was a play-in game for the playoff. Auburn upended Alabama the week before, and they weren’t able to regroup and take down the Bulldogs. It’s tough beating a couple of physical opponents on back-to-back weeks. We’ll see if they care to play in the Peach Bowl on New Year’s. Head below for our free UCF vs. Auburn pick in the Peach Bowl.
UCF Knights vs. Auburn Tigers Betting Odds:
vs. Auburn -10.5(-110)
Betting odds provided by Bovada.lv
UCF vs. Auburn Pick:
Auburn may not have reached the playoff, but it’s a year they can be happy about. On a good day, the Tigers could beat any of the teams in the top-4. They already have proven that they can beat Alabama. Georgia just happened to catch them in the perfect spot. Jarrett Stidham has been a nice acquisition for Auburn. The former Baylor product has fit right in, and dispelled any doubters that he wouldn’t be able to handle SEC football. Stidham passed for 17 touchdowns and 4 interceptions, along with a completion percentage of 66.7%. Scouts have taken note of his ability to protect the ball. In the SEC that isn’t always easy.
He was locked in against the Crimson Tide, passing for 237 yards with no interceptions. No touchdown passes, but he did a tremendous job getting the ball downfield. Kerryon Johnson will be playing in the Peach Bowl. After suffering what looked like a scary injury, Johnson says he is 100 percent and ready to go. Bad news for UCF. He ran for 1,320 yards and 19 touchdowns in the defensive minded SEC. Alabama had trouble containing him. It took an injury for him to be slowed down. The offense is 27th in the nation with 454 yards per game. They’ve also scored 34.4 points per game.
The best opponent UCF had this year was South Florida and Memphis. Their first game against Memphis was a convincing blowout back in September, 40-13. The next meeting got a little wild, as UCF took a 62-55 win in overtime. This was after the Knights got in a shootout with the South Florida Bulls, a 49-42 final which could have went either way.
The Knights are led on offense by quarterback McKenzie Milton. Milton is a dual-threat quarterback that reminds you of Johnny Manziel at times. Milton threw 35 touchdowns and 9 interceptions. He also rushed for 497 yards and 7 touchdowns. Milton and UCF haven’t seen a defense like Auburn, though. The Tigers allowed just 312 yards per game for 14th in the FBS. They surrendered only 17.3 points per game. UCF are 93rd with 429 yards allowed per game. I can’t help but think of Northern Illinois and Florida State from 2013 in the Orange Bowl when I look at this matchup. FSU won by a score of 31-10 against the 12-1 Huskies. Auburn will dominate the trenches and wear UCF out. They should be able to pull away in the second-half to get the win and cover, so long as they want to win this game.
PICK: AUBURN -10.5 (-110)