The UCF Knights may have gone undefeated last season, including a win over the Auburn Tigers in the Peach Bowl, but it wasn’t enough to get them a national championship. UCF might say that they are national champions and had rings made up saying that much, however that obviously wasn’t the case, those honors went to Alabama.
Whether or not you believe the Crimson Tide should have been in the playoff, they are the reigning champions. And no, I don’t think Alabama should have been in due to their loss to Auburn in the Iron Bowl. The whole thing about UCF running around saying that they’re the champs is silly, though.
With that said, the Knights had a heck of a team from the bottom to the top. If UCF was playing Auburn in a different situation, a game that Auburn probably cared more about, would the result have been the same? Unlikely, because I don’t think the Tigers were too thrilled to be playing in the Peach Bowl. Motivation without a doubt is a factor in bowl games and it was all in favor of UCF as they were gunning for an undefeated year.
Central Florida was led by quarterback McKenzie Milton. The dual-threat QB burst on the scene in his sophomore season. Milton threw for 10 touchdowns and 7 interceptions in 2017 and brought that total to 37 touchdowns and 9 interceptions a season ago. Not only can Milton get it done with his arm, but his ability on the ground does provide flashes of Johnny Manziel in college. Milton rushed for 613 yards and 8 touchdowns last season. He was incredibly difficult for defenses to figure out. With a year of huge success under his belt, expect more of the same from Milton.
David Pindell won the starting job at quarterback for UConn a year ago, but was benched early and didn’t see the field until the final three weeks of the season. Pindell is the clear starter in 2018, though. Bryant Shirreffs has moved on from college, so Connecticut have to hope Pindell sees a significant boost in production.
If they don’t, it figures to be another long season for the Huskies’ offense. There aren’t many weapons for Pindell in the offense. The only real threat UCF will have to be concerned with is receiver Hergy Mayala, who reeled in 615 yards last season. The leading rusher returning is Kevin Mensah with 561 yards. This is also a retooled offense line for UConn. We’ll see how they handle the Knights at home on Thursday. Scott Frost is in Nebraska, but Josh Heupel inherits a talented UCF team. Get our free UCF vs. UConn pick and the rest of the writeup below.
UCF Knights vs. UConn Huskies Betting Odds:
vs. UConn +23.5(-110)
Betting odds provided by Sportsbetting.ag
UCF vs. UConn Pick:
Milton led the Knights on offense to 530 yards per game for 5th in the nation. They also averaged an FBS best 48.2 points per game. UCF were the top team by around 3 points. Milton will be without Tre’Quan Smith in the receiving game, but the Knights still return a top-flight offense that is going to be tough to contain.
Their receiving unit is deep, which includes Ole Miss transfer Tre Nixon who is eligible to play right away. Nixon is a speedy guy who will look fine opposite Dredrick Snelson. Some talent may have moved on, but Milton is still going to have a fun group of guys to operate the offense with. Look for the offense to be just as good as a season ago.
UCF face a Huskies’ defensive unit that ranked 122nd in the nation with 37.9 points allowed per game. They were 127th, allowing a staggering 519 yards per game. Their main problems came in the secondary. They were dead last in the country with 333.9 passing yards allowed per game. The next closest team allowed 310.3 yards, so it wasn’t even close in that regard. UConn can’t be much worse than that, but I don’t see them improving much. They lost three on the defensive line and a quality linebacker, Junior Joseph.
UCF and Milton shouldn’t have any issues dicing this defense up in the secondary. The offense is likely going to get off to a hot start, as Milton pads his numbers in a bid to be considered for the Heisman Trophy. UCF lost some talent on defense, but they do get talent back on the back-end in Tre Neal and Kyle Gibson at safety.
UCF allowed 25.2 points per game in 2017 for 53rd in the nation. They might see a slight decrease in production, but the offense is more than going to handle defenses. Also, the Knights aren’t going to have to worry about Pindell and the UConn offense here. Pindell threw for 4 touchdowns and 6 interceptions in 2017. He will be better than that as the fulltime starter, but it’s not going to be enough to stay close to UCF on Thursday night. The Knights will have a chip on their shoulder after failing to reach the playoff a year ago. UConn is going to be an unwilling victim Thursday night, as Milton piles on the points in the season opener. I like a 48-20 win for the Knights to provide a win on the spread.