The University of Central Florida has had an eventful couple of weeks. 2 games cancelled due to Hurricane Irma have threatened to sideline a promising season. But even as hurricane victims, the program has not avoided controversy.
Many Georgia Tech boosters felt that the Week 3 cancellation of GT-UCF was not necessary. Tech head coach Paul Johnson called the opposing school to offer to play the game in Atlanta, but was turned down.
Are the Knights scared to play? Probably not, considering who they put on the schedule in 2017. Week 4 brings a trip to Big Ten opponent Maryland, not a pushover by any stretch. That precedes a conference slate in the AAC, easily the strongest of all mid-major conferences.
The Terrapins, meanwhile, opened their campaign with a nice 51-41 shoot-out victory over Texas.
Who: Central Florida Knights at Maryland Terrapins
When: Saturday, September 23rd, 3 PM EST
Where: Maryland Stadium, College Park, MD
Lines: UCF (+3.5) at Maryland (-3.5) / O/U Total: 67
Thanks to Irma, we’ve only got one game on record with which to evaluate the Knights. UCF routed Florida International 61-17 in the season opener, ruining Butch Davis’ return to the coaching world. McKenzie Milton threw for 360 yards and 4 touchdowns, and the Knights out-gained the Golden Panthers by over 200 yards in total offense.
Maryland will be a cut above a C-USA team. But how much of the Terrapins win over UT was the Big Ten representative playing well, and how much was simply Tom “Magic Dust” Herman’s team blowing a gasket?
Perhaps Maryland’s dominant Week 2 win over Towson can provide some answers. The Terrapins showed their intentions to run whenever possible and only pass sparingly, with junior RB Ty Johnson scoring twice and gaining over 100 yards on just 5 carries. QB Kasim Hill did everything asked of him, passing for almost as many touchdowns (2) as incompletions (3). Maryland did not turn the football over once.
It is hard to know enough about either side to make a reliable call on a winner, ATS or SU. However, bettors may have created value in the O/U by betting the over, which has risen almost 4 points since lines opened.
We’re thinking that this will be much more of a defensive struggle than anticipated. Maryland has moved the ball quickly against a discombobulated FBS opponent and an under-manned FCS team. But their reluctance to open up the offense shows that coaches are aiming for a safe, ball-control offense despite the gaudy scores.
That, and the fact that the UCF defense might be the best unit they’ve faced so far, will prevent the Terrapins from scoring more than 3 or 4 touchdowns on Saturday. As for the Knights, they’re likely to be rusty and lacking in rhythm on offense for at least the 1st half.
Take the under. (67) points is far too generous.