The matchup between Cincinnati and Central Florida is usually one of the first games circled on the American Athletic Conference schedule. However, now it is just another game with third-ranked and undefeated Cincinnati a heavy favorite, according to the college football odds. Can UCF slow down one of the best offenses in the country?
|Game: Central Florida 3-2 at Cincinnati 5-0
Location: Nippert Stadium
Time: Noon ET
Cincinnati has posted three-point wins in each of the last two meetings after UCF posted dominating wins in the previous three showdowns. In 2020, Central Florida pulled within three points with 4:27 remaining but the Bearcats didn’t give the ball back to the Knights until one second remained. Central Florida has struggled to run the ball in each of the last two meetings with an average of just 3.1 yards per carry.
Next game: vs. Memphis
Mark-Antony Richards’ one-yard run with 23 seconds left lifted the Knights to a 20-16 win over East Carolina. The narrow escape was a bit of a surprise after the Knights won the previous five meetings by an average of 25 points. The Knights were 10-point favorites in the contest and failed to cover the number.
DT Kalia Davis suffered a season-ending knee injury in the East Carolina game. UCF has been playing without quarterback Dillon Gabriel, running back Isaiah Bowser, WR Jaylon Robinson and DT Ricky Barber. Davis is a key part of the UCF run defense, and facing a Cincinnati team tied for the AAC lead with 14 rushing touchdowns and is second with 5.35 yards per rush isn’t ideal timing to be without the 310-pound Davis.
Next game: at Tulane
Temple, a 29-point underdog, made things interesting for a while before Cincinnati scored touchdowns on five of its first six drives in the second half. Former Alabama running back Jerome Ford ran for career-high 149 yards including a 75-yard touchdown, as Cincinnati ran for a season-high 279 yards. Cincinnati coach Luke Fickell said he would like to get Ford even more touches moving forward.
Cincinnati has been relatively healthy especially on defense where 10 players have started each of the first five games.
Betting on the Game
Considering that UCF and Cincinnati have scored at least 30 points in eight of the 10 games this season, the over/under of 58 seems a bit on the low side.
Cincinnati leads all FBS teams in red zone defense as opponents have six touchdowns and no field goals in 14 trips to the red zone. It is one of the many reasons why the Bearcars figure to be a popular pick in this week’s sports betting online picks.
One thing working in Central Florida’s favor is that the Knights have averaged more than five yards per carry in every game. UCF’s yards per pass attempts have fallen in each of the last three weeks so it won’t be surprising to see it lean on its running game and a high-percentage passing offense in an attempt to keep the Bearcats’ powerful offense off the field. If UCF is forced to play from behind, the game could be another easy cover for Cincinnati backers on the college football spread.
Central Florida has covered in four of the last five games against Cincinnati so that could give sports-betting folks reason to be cautious.