UCF vs. South Florida Odds & Picks: How to Bet Friday’s AAC Rivalry Game
Conor Kvatek/Collegiate Images/Getty Images. Pictured: Dillon Gabriel.
- The UCF Knights will hit the road on Saturday to take on South Florida in an in-state rivalry game.
- Dillon Gabriel and the Knights have been on a roll offensively as of late, but the Bulls can't say the same.
- Check out Pat McMahon's full betting analysis with updated odds below.
UCF vs. South Florida Odds
|UCF Odds||-25.5 [BET NOW]|
|South Florida Odds||+25.5 [BET NOW]|
|Moneyline||-2200 / +980 [BET NOW]|
|Over/Under||66.5 [BET NOW]|
|Time||3:30 p.m. ET|
UCF is fresh off a heartbreaking 36-33 loss to Cincinnati, and the Knights have a short week to regroup for this Friday’s contest at in-state rival South Florida. Luckily for the Knights, there is a significant talent difference between them and the Bulls.
South Florida is off to a 1-7 start in Jeff Scott’s first season. The Bulls have been dealing with COVID-19 issues within the program that forced them to postpone their game against Navy. Those lingering issues call into question how many key players won’t be on the Bulls’ sideline for Friday’s rivalry matchup.
Dillon Gabriel has the Knights’ passing game going toe-to-toe with Heisman front-runner Kyle Trask and Florida, as the two teams are tied for first in the nation in passing yards per game. The Knights also rank second nationally in total offense, posting 587 yards per game.
Gabriel isn’t being talked about enough for the video game-like numbers he’s putting up this season. Through eight games, he’s already eclipsed 3,000 yards passing and has 26 touchdowns to just three interceptions. If UCF could have figured out a way to close out tight losses to Cincinnati and Memphis, Gabriel would be in the Heisman conversation right now.
Marlon Williams is having one of the best seasons of any wide receiver in the sport, already recording over 1,000 yards and 10 touchdowns. Fellow wideouts Jaylon Robinson and Ryan O’Keefe, and tight end Jacob Harris are all having strong seasons as well and give Gabriel a host of weapons to dish the rock to.
Gabriel and the passing attack get all the attention, but the Knights’ running game has quietly been very strong as well. The Knights like to establish the run to set up the deep ball and are usually effective in doing so on first down and in short-yardage situations. Otis Anderson and Greg McCrae share the workload in the backfield, and both are running it at over five yards a clip.
The defense is the clear weakness of the Knights. They are particularly weak in the secondary, where they were hit hard with player opt-outs prior to the start of the season. Three defensive backs chose to opt out, including projected starting cornerback Tay Gowan. This has led to a significant lack of depth for the unit, which really hurt the team in losses to Memphis and Cincinnati.
The run defense has struggled as well, with the Knights giving up 184 yards per game on the ground. South Florida doesn’t pose a huge threat with its running game, but both potential Bulls starting quarterbacks are solid scramblers and could give the Knights’ front seven some trouble.
South Florida Bulls
It’s been a tough first season for Scott and offensive coordinator Charlie Weis Jr. The Bulls are behind the rest of the AAC in pure talent, making it tough to move the ball consistently and get the offense in a rhythm. USF heads into this game posting 4.74 yards per play and ranking 109th in total offense.
One of the things making life difficult for the South Florida offense is the quarterback position, where three different players have seen action. Jordan McCloud is the most experienced man in the group and has started all but one game. Alcorn State grad transfer Noah Johnson got the nod against Memphis and played very well, almost leading the Bulls to an upset win. Johnson had the best performance of any Bulls quarterback all season and gave the offense a legitimate reason for optimism going forward.
Unfortunately, Johnson missed the next game against Houston for undisclosed reasons, and his status for this game is unknown. The Bulls received more bad news this week, as leading rusher Johnny Ford left the program. With their top weapon out, getting Johnson back in the lineup becomes even more crucial.
Defensively, the Bulls have been solid against the pass but terrible at defending the run. The secondary returned all four starters from last season, and its experience as a group has paid off. The Bulls have a top-40 passing defense and are allowing only 216 yards per game through the air. However, Gabriel and the Knights’ elite passing attack presents a new type of challenge.
The Bulls’ front seven has struggled to get penetration and are being thrashed for over 210 yards rushing yards per game. Opponents are averaging nearly five yards per carry against the Bulls, and the Knights should have no issues moving the ball on the ground. If South Florida doesn’t have an answer for the UCF ground game early, the Knights will be able to do whatever they want offensively and could put the game away quickly.
Betting Analysis & Pick
This is a classic potential letdown spot for UCF. They’re fresh off a heartbreaking loss to a top-10 opponent, and now hit the road to face an inferior opponent on a short week.
Instead of fading the Knights, I think the value in this game lies on the over. The one constant for either team is the UCF offense, which will undoubtedly be able to move the football and light up the scoreboard. The UCF defense is what worries me, and an extra week of preparation could pay dividends for the South Florida offense.
Look for the Bulls to come out with some tricks up their sleeves and be competitive early. A couple of first-half South Florida scores will force Gabriel and the UCF offense to keep firing, a recipe that works well for the over.
Pick: Over 66.5. Play up to 69.