There are several bowl games before Christmas Day, but none is bigger or more attractive than this matchup Tuesday. UCF has been one of the best Group of Five teams in recent years, while BYU used to be a representative of the little guy rising to the top in college football. The Cougars won the 1984 national championship and stunned the college football establishment. The teams meet in the Boca Raton Bowl. It should be a captivating contest between talented teams. What makes the online betting matchup even better is the contrast in styles.
The quarterbacks will be worth watching. UCF’s Dillon Gabriel and BYU’s Zach Wilson are highly prolific passers who can run when plays break down. They have both thrown for more than 3,200 yards – with Gabriel throwing for roughly 100 more yards than Wilson. Both have thrown 30 touchdown passes. Gabriel has thrown four interceptions; Wilson only three. If one player gets the clear upper hand over the other, that team is almost certain to win.
If the Gabriel-Wilson clash is relatively even, this becomes a more intriguing battle. UCF values speed on the outside. The Knights want to get the ball to their receivers in open space and watch them work.
BYU has a strong defense. Whereas UCF allows roughly 31 points per game, BYU averages only 14.6 points allowed each game. BYU has a huge, hulking offensive line that will try to lean on UCF’s defensive front and mash the Knights, slowly wearing them down so that they can overpower UCF in the fourth quarter. UCF will want a faster tempo while BYU will want a slower one.
UCF has lost three games but all to teams with winning records. Two of UCF’s losses came after the Knights had gained a double-digit lead. The inconsistency of the defense has been the Knights’ Achilles’ Heel. If that can be slightly corrected or improved upon against BYU, UCF should fancy its chances in this game.
BYU’s only loss was to a physical and tough Coastal Carolina team in a game, which came down to the wire. BYU was tackled on the Coastal Carolina 1-yard line as the game ended, falling just short in a 22-17 loss.
The game will be fun, but BYU is so physical that the scoreboard totals won’t become a video game. This won’t become a total shootout, but the offenses should have the edge over the defenses. UCF doesn’t perform well in close-game situations, but the Knights’ speed is going to frustrate BYU. The Knights will cover the spread, but BYU will win the game.