Boca Raton Bowl – UCF Knights at BYU Cougars – December 22

Boca Raton Bowl – BYU (10-1) vs. UCF (6-3) – ESPN, 7 pm EST


Both the Cougars and the Knights have each won at home in this decade as the series is even at 1-1. BYU took a 24-17 win in Provo in 2011 while UCF enjoyed a 31-24 overtime win back in Orlando in 2014.

Vs. The Spread:

The line has been sporadic as BYU opened at a 5-point favorite and then it fell as far as three before crawling up to seven. It currently stands with BYU (-6.5).

UCF is 2-6 against the spread in its last eight games and seven of the last 10 Knights games have been OVER. The Knights are 3-15 SU when playing as the underdog. The Cougars are 6-2 SU in their last eight games against the American Athletic Conference.

Teams Spread Money Line Total Points
UCF +6 (-105) +210 O 75½ (-120)
BYU -6 (-115) -250 U 75½ (+100)

Last Time Out:

UCF finished it’s regular season on Nov. 27 when the Knights took the War on I-4 with a 58-46 win over the South Florida Bulls. The two teams combined for 1,223 yards as UCF sophomore quarterback Dillon Gabriel passed for 336 yards and four touchdowns and he ran for another.

Zach Wilson threw for 310 yards and three touchdowns to lead BYU to a 28-14 win over San Diego State on Dec. 12. The BYU defense turned the Aztecs over twice on fumbles and also held San Diego State twice on downs in the second half.

When the Knights Have the Ball:

UCF Knights LogoThere’s no doubt that this is going to be one of the most exciting offensive shows of the bowl season with Gabriel at the controls of the Knights offense. He leads the nation with 372.6 yards passing per game and boasts a wide receiving corp led by Marlon Wilson who caught 71 passes for 1,023 yards and 10 touchdowns. However, Williams opted out of the postseason, so Jaylon Robinson, who had 953 yards and five touchdowns, will be the go-to guy in the passing game. Five Knights receivers average between 14.6 and 20.2 yards per catch. Greg McRae and Otis Anderson make for a solid one-two punch at running back as the UCF running game churns out 212 yards per night.

BYU’s defense hasn’t been remotely tested by the intricacies of a passing attack as UCF presents nor have they seen an offense with this much athletic ability. Coastal Carolina was the most athletic team that BYU has faced on both sides of the ball and subsequently, the Chanticleers spelled the Cougars’ only loss. Tyler Batty and George Udo led a BYU pass rush that scored 26 sacks.

The Cougars last two opponents – Coastal Carolina and San Diego State – called 103 running plays vs. only 47 pass plays. The Chanticleers had 281 yards on 54 carries. Of course, UCF makes it’s name with the nation’s most potent passing game, but don’t be surprised if McRae, Andersen, or both have big nights on the ground. The BYU defense has held it’s opponents to only 14.6 points per game.

When the Cougars Have the Ball:

Zach Wilson has presided over another stellar BYU passing attack as he has thrown for 297 yards with 30 touchdown passes against only three interceptions and a 73 percent completion rating. However, the week-in, week-out caliber of opponent is questionable with a strength of schedule that is rated 70th in the nation. Dax Milne is Wilson’s leading receiver who went over 100 receiving yards five times, including the last three games. Gunner Romney and Neil Pau’u are also key figures in the attack as Wilson showed more confidence in Pau’u as the season went forward. Leading rusher Tyler Allgeier is expected back after an illness sidelined him against San Diego State as he averages 7.3 yards per carry and has rushed for 12 touchdowns.

Richie Grant is the leader of the UCF defense as he accumulated a team-high 72 tackles with three interceptions. The Knights have had trouble against the run consistently as four opponents broke 200 yards rushing and UCF was 2-2 in those games. This defense has had a penchant for turning over opponents as the Knights are at a (+12) with 13 fumble recoveries and nine interceptions.

The Knights are going to show BYU more athletes on both sides of the football than they have seen in any game this year. That will make for a huge difference as the game goes forward.

Winner: UCF (+6) 41, BYU 37

Over-Under: Take OVER 75½

The Bets
UCF +6
O 75½

Kenneth Cross / Author

Kenneth Cross is a new entry to The Sports Geek staff as he has 25 years of experience in print, broadcast, and internet sports journalism. Cross is a lover of all sports, but college basketball is his passion. He estimates that he has seen around 1,500 college basketball games - live and in-person - and hopes that grows this season. If you listen to Radio, you have likely heard him on Sundays covering the Carolina Panthers for some 20 years. Now in Tampa Bay, he works as a national radio correspondent.