Vegas Game Preview & Betting Odds South Florida vs Central Florida

The no. 9 Central Florida Knights will try to remain unbeaten as they take on the South Florida Bulls in the rivalry game known as the War on I-4. Game time is at 4:15 EST on Friday, November 23, at Raymond James Stadium in Tampa. Fans can catch all the action on ESPN.

The Knights are currently listed as 14.5-point favorites after opening the week favored by 14 points. The over/under for the game is set at 58.5 points. Click here to check out a full list of the Week 13 college football odds.

South Florida vs Central Florida Game Betting Preview & Vegas Odds

In case you lost count, the Knights have won 23 consecutive games. They are a perfect 10-0 this season and have already assured themselves a spot in next week’s AAC Championship Game. Of course, Central Florida doesn’t look like a team that’s ready to take their foot off the gas. Last week, the Knights had another routine 38-13 win over a top-25 Cincinnati team on national TV.

Unfortunately for UCF, it remains highly unlikely that the Knights will reach the top-4 of the College Football Rankings no matter how much they complain. On the bright side, if Central Florida can take care of business this week and next week, they will almost certainly be invited to a New Year’s Six bowl game for the second consecutive year, which is no small accomplishment, especially under two different head coaches.

South Florida, meanwhile, is lucky that they locked up a bowl spot a long time ago because the Bulls are currently in the middle of a four-game winning streak. After cruising to a 7-0 start against the easy portion of their schedule, the Bulls have collapsed against the difficult part of their schedule. In fairness, three of their four losses have come on the road. However, all four losses have come by double-digit margins, so they appear to be a notch or two below the top teams in the AAC.

Of course, it’s easy to overlook all of that in a rivalry game. While these two schools have only met nine times, their rivalry already has a trophy and plenty of bad blood. After all, the schools are separated by less than 100 miles and engage in a lot of fierce recruiting battles against one another. A year ago, Central Florida held serve at home in a 49-42 thriller. However, the Bulls own a 6-3 lead in the all-time series, including wins in both 2015 and 2016.

Free NCAA Football Pick Against the Spread: Central Florida -14.5

To be honest, I don’t think this year’s UCF team is nearly as good as the Knights were a year ago. However, they’re still head and shoulders above the rest of the AAC. With South Florida’s season spiraling fast and the Bulls unable to compete with the AAC’s quality teams, I have no problem swallowing the points and leaning toward Central Florida to win by a wide margin and cover the spread.

Normally, Charlie Strong’s teams are good defensively, but that hasn’t been the case with USF this season. The Bulls are giving up 31 points per game on the season and have conceded an average of 40 points during their four-game losing streak. USF was a little better defensively last week against Temple, at least in the 1st half. But they’re about to face the biggest challenge of their season when the UCF offense comes to town.

It’s been rare to see any team provide the least amount of resistance for quarterback McKenzie Milton and the UCF offense this season. Even the game that Milton missed due to injury the Knights were able to win easily. Oddly enough, Milton’s worst game of the season came against an FCS opponent. Take away that game and he’s thrown just two interceptions all season against 23 touchdown passes and nine rushing touchdowns. Perhaps more importantly, a steady Central Florida rushing attack has helped take a lot of heat and pressure off Milton.

Needless to say, the South Florida offense is going to have to be at the top of their game if they’re going to stay within striking distance against UCF. Unfortunately, the USF offense hasn’t been all that consistent or reliable this year. At times, the Bulls have been able to overwhelm lesser teams with their athleticism. But that hasn’t worked against some of the better teams they’ve faced. 

The Bulls have also seen quarterback Blake Barnett start to fall apart the second half of the season. He missed the team’s loss to Cincinnati a couple weeks ago with a shoulder injury. He also has just three touchdown passes to seven interceptions in conference play. The silver lining is that the Bulls have a good running game, and Barnett is part of that. But that may not be enough to keep up in a shootout with the Knights. Moreover, the UCF defense has enough talent to feast on a one-dimensional offense if Barnett continues to struggle.

In the end, it’s hard to ignore that Central Florida has won eight of their 10 games by at least 20 points. With the Bulls also losing four games in a row by an average of 17 points, the math just doesn’t add up for USF. Even in a rivalry game, I’ll eat the points and lean toward Central Florida to easily cover the 14.5-point spread.

Read More Like This