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South Carolina State vs. UCF Odds, Picks: How to Bet This Thursday College Football Clash

South Carolina State vs. UCF Odds, Picks: How to Bet This Thursday College Football Clash article feature image
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Austin McAfee/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images. Pictured: South Carolina State wide receiver Shaquan Davis.

  • UCF takes on South Carolina State to open its campaign.
  • This will be Central Florida's farewell tour, as it departs for the Big 12 next season.
  • Kyle Remillard previews the game and offers up his best bet.

South Carolina State vs. UCF Odds

Thursday, Sept. 1
7 p.m. ET
ESPN+
South Carolina State Odds
Spread Total Moneyline
+37.5
-110
57
-110o / -110u
N/A
UCF Odds
Spread Total Moneyline
-37.5
-110
57
-110o / -110u
N/A
Odds via BetRivers. Get up-to-the-minute college football odds here.

It will be a farewell tour for Central Florida, which will leave the American Athletic Conference for the Big 12 next season.

UCF head coach Gus Malzahn filtered through an injury-riddled roster last season in his first year with the Knights. They still put together a nine-win season and are tooling up to prepare for their future in the Power Five.

Central Florida will start out its season hosting a well-coached South Carolina State program from the MEAC. The Bulldogs are coming off a massive Celebration Bowl upset victory over Jackson State last season. 

They return a ton of production and hope to ride that momentum wave into another upset over Central Florida.

Though a victory on the scoreboard is improbable, a victory against the spread is well within reason.


South Carolina State Bulldogs

Buddy Pough has been the head coach at South Carolina State for two decades but enters this season with morale at an all-time high.

Last season looked bleak, as the program started out 1-4, including a 49-3 pounding by Clemson. The Bulldogs then turned it around, winning their five conference games and clinching their eighth MEAC title under Pough.

But they weren’t done. South Carolina State went on to win its first Celebration Bowl as double-digit underdogs over Deion Sanders’ Jackson State.

South Carolina State was voted first in the preseason coaches poll and looks to repeat as HBCU national champions. But that won’t be an easy task after the Bulldogs won three of their five conference matchups by six points or less.   

The program has great chemistry this season, returning with 16 players on the preseason All-MEAC team. Quarterback Corey Fields one of those returners and will have nearly all of his weapons coming back this season.

Shaquan Davis is a game changer at wide receiver who averaged over 20 yards per reception. The 6-foot-5 receiver is a mismatch on any defender and proved it in the Celebration Bowl by coming down with three touchdowns.

The defense was strong against the run, allowing only 3.6 yards per carry and just over 120 rushing yards a contest. That will be a crucial factor in this matchup as Central Florida will look to pound the ball with Isaiah Bowser.

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Central Florida Knights

Malzahn had an uphill battle in his first season with the Knights due to all the injuries across the program. The dynamic backfield duo of quarterback Dillon Gabriel and running back Bowser was missed for much of the season.

True freshman quarterback Mikey Keene was tossed into the fire and showed progress as the season went on. Malzahn managed to lead the Knights to a sneaky nine-win season while remaining perfect at home.

With Gabriel transferring to Oklahoma, UCF brought in John Rhys Plumlee from Ole Miss. Plumlee won the job over Keene in camp due to his dual-threat ability. He started eight games at quarterback for Ole Miss in 2019 and rushed for over 1,000 yards on 6.6 yards per carry.

The UCF offense wasn’t the same explosive group behind the true freshman that we’ve been accustomed to seeing. It ranked 58th in explosiveness and 53rd in Success Rate last year.

Instead, the Knights leaned on a strong run game that averaged 5.4 yards per rush. They hope to resurrect their explosive ways while owning a dominant rushing attack with Plumlee at the helm.

Defensively, the group was strong, allowing just 24 points per game. Over the final seven games, only one opponent put up more than 17 points against the Knights. The group allowed only 12 passing touchdowns while coming away with 11 interceptions.

The defense ranked 26th in Havoc and among the top 50 in Success Rate and explosiveness.


South Carolina State vs. UCF Betting Pick

Some FCS opponents are a walk in the park that serves as a nice tune-up game to start the season. Though this is a five-touchdown spread, I don’t envision this being one of those games.

The Bulldogs won the MEAC in back-to-back seasons and are coming off their first Celebration Bowl victory over Jackson State. There will be no shortage of confidence on the South Carolina State sideline.

Pough is a coach who has had great success with the program and brings back a loaded roster. At receiver, Davis can take over a game as he proved with his performance in the Celebration Bowl.

Meanwhile, UCF will be testing its new quarterback in Plumlee. The senior quarterback threw one pass attempt last year and seven in 2020. He very well could come out with some rust on the arm in Week 1.

And if the Knights turn to the ground game, the South Carolina State front seven will be able to hold its own against UCF’s rushing attack.

The last MEAC victory over an FBS school came in 2017 when Howard upset UNLV as 45.5-point underdogs — the largest upset in college football history. 

I don’t expect the Bulldogs to come out victorious, but I do anticipate them hanging around long enough to cover in this matchup.

Pick: South Carolina State +37.5 (Play to +35)

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