The Friday night (8:00pm ET) game this week features the University of Central Florida Knights (2-1) of Conference USA taking on the independent BYU Cougars (1-2) in Provo, UT. UCF lost by a score of 17-10 to Florida International last week after rolling over Boston College and Charleston Southern by scores of 30-3 and 62-0 in their first two contests. BYU was smoked by Utah 54-10 last week after dropping a tough game by a count of 17-16 to Texas the week before.
UCF boasts one of the top defensive units in the country, ranking 2nd in total yards with an average of 166 per game allowed, and ranking 3rd in points allowed with an average of only 6.7 per game. Those lofty stats have been compiled against teams with woeful offensive attacks however, as Boston College and Florida International rank near the bottom in all major offensive categories. The Central Florida offense struggled mightily against Florida International, gaining only 181 yards through the air and allowing a 51-yard fumble return for a touchdown after a sack of QB Jeff Godfrey that proved to be the difference in the game. BYU has not shown the type of dynamic offensive attack this season that the Cougars are known for, ranking 111th among FBS teams with an average of 13.3 points per game and 104th in total yards with 301.7 per game. Sophomore quarterback Jake Heaps has struggled mightily, posting a 57.1% completion percentage with only 3 touchdowns against 4 interceptions. The seven Cougar turnovers against Utah were a key factor in that debacle, and taking care of the football will be a point of emphasis in this game.
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UCF vs. BYU Spread, Line and Betting Odds:
UCF Bulls +3
@BYU Cougars -3
Over 42.5 (-110)
Under 42.5 (-110)
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UCF vs. BYU Pick:
The Knights are 13-3 ATS in their last 2126 road games overall. The under is 6-2 in their last 8 games as an underdog and 34-15-2 in their last 51 games on grass. BYU is 6-2 ATS in their last 8 games overall. The under is 11-5 in the Cougars’ last 16 games overall and 6-1 in their last 7 games in September. There are no recent meetings between the two teams. Under head coach Bronco Mendenhall, BYU has been a slow starter with five 1-2 starts in his seven year tenure. His teams have gone a combined 47-12 the rest of the season though, so this is a pivotal game for the Cougars. The Golden Knights however are 10-0 in their past 10 games coming off a defeat.
The critical matchup in this game will be lackluster BYU offense against the thus-far stellar UCF defense. Can Cougar QB Jake Heaps live up to his highly-touted reputation and step up against one of the top defenses in the country? The thinking here is that Heaps and company will not be able to get it together so quickly after last week’s horrible performance against a rugged UCF defense. Turnovers as usual will be the difference in the game. BYU has managed only one touchdown in each of their games so they have no margin for error if they fall behind. UCF was uncharacteristically sloppy last week against Florida International, turning the ball over The Knights will protect their QB, Godfrey much better than they did last week (6 sacks) and go back to a ball-control game plan on the road that will complement their defense. UCF has a veteran head coach in George O’Leary who knows how to rally his team after a loss, and they will be able to go into Provo and come out with a win against a BYU team that has not been able to get it together in the early going this season.