The Pittsburgh Panthers travel to Orlando for a meeting with what is the most interesting team in college football. The Central Florida Knights have been officially recognized as National Champions by the NCAA. They may have gone 13-0 last season and beat Auburn in the Peach Bowl, but do they win a game in the College Football Playoff? Would they have beaten Auburn in a meaningful game? I’m not so sure about that, so I’m fine calling UCF the Tier 2 National Champions in the FBS, but I don’t think they would have matched up against Alabama or Georgia.
It’s difficult calling a team that couldn’t compete with the best a National Champion. With that said, the Knights are a talented bunch who have a really good team. After Oklahoma State beat up on Boise State, they are the clear leader as the best team amongst non-Power 5 schools. The nod goes to UCF in a New Year’s Six Bowl bid right now.
If they go undefeated, wait for more the same National Champion controversy. This version of the Alabama Crimson Tide in 2018 would mop the floor with them. Even though UCF have a good team, Alabama would be too much to handle on both sides of the ball. So, if they want to have Alabama and UCF play after the National Championship, I think we’d see who the true champion is. It’s not that UCF aren’t a good team, it just looks like adults playing against kids when Alabama steps on the field.
UCF are coming off an easy 56-36 win over the Florida Atlantic Owls. After getting two quick scores to open the game to make it 14-0, UCF started to lay up too much and put it on cruise control. It wasn’t the best idea, as FAU began to make it interesting. That was short lived, though, as UCF took control in the second-half and just wore out the Owls.
Conversely, Pittsburgh took a bad loss against UCF. It wasn’t their worst loss of the year, though, that would be a 51-6 loss against the Nittany Lions of Penn State. Their lone wins have come against Georgia Tech, 24-19, and Albany, 33-7. It likely isn’t going to get any easier for the Panthers this week on the road in Orlando. Head below for our free Pittsburgh vs. UCF pick and the rest of our writeup.
Pittsburgh Panthers vs. UCF Knights NCAAF Betting Odds:
vs. UCF -13.5(-110)
Betting odds provided by Sportsbetting.ag
Pittsburgh vs. UCF Pick:
McKenzie Milton put on a show early and often for Central Florida against FAU last Friday night. He ran for a score less than 3 minutes into the game, and then connected with Dredrick Snelson for a 12-yard strike a few minutes later. Milton ultimately finished with 3 touchdowns through the air and 3 touchdowns on the ground with his legs. He’s already thrown 9 touchdowns and 3 touchdowns rushing in 2018.
Milton wasn’t at his best against South Carolina State, as he threw 3 interceptions which account for all his interceptions this season. I like to think he didn’t prepare at all for a much inferior opponent. He looked like himself the following week, so I wouldn’t expect a lackluster effort from him against Pitt. Milton will likely be excited to show off in front of an ACC opponent.
The Knights are 5th in the country with 588 yards per game. They are 9th with 50 points score per game. As long as Milton stays healthy, UCF are going to continue to put up video game numbers on the board. He is difficult enough for good defenses to defend, but for bad defenses, they just have to guess what he’s going to do with the ball. The Pittsburgh defense into particularly good. They’ve allowed 396 yards per game for 86th in the FBS. North Carolina do not have the best of offenses and they just put up 38 points on this unit. They finished 103rd defensively last season, so it’s going to be more of the same for them in 2018.
Offensively UCF were great last week, but they allowed Devin Singletary to get going and he romped for 131 yards and 3 touchdowns. Singletary is one of the best running backs in the country, so not totally unexpected. As long as they didn’t let him go wild for near 200 yards, the Knights were never going to be in danger. UCF forced Chris Robison into 3 interceptions. Moving the ball without handing the ball off to Singletary was near impossible.
Pittsburgh do not have a dynamic player like Singletary. They prefer to establish the run and pound the ball, same as FAU, but Darrin Hall and Qadree Ollison are not going to be as tricky to contain for UCF. If the Knights get up early and force Kenny Pickett to throw the ball often, this game is going to fall right into UCF’s hands. The same thing happened to the Owls a week ago. Pitt likely aren’t going to have the horsepower to keep up with Milton and company once they get behind. Note that UCF had an extra day to prepare for this game as well. Pitt might keep it close early, but look for UCF to pull away in the second-half and become too much for the Panthers to handle.