Betting Odds, Picks, Predictions for UCF vs. Cincinnati: Do the Knights Pose a Threat?

Betting Odds, Picks, Predictions for UCF vs. Cincinnati: Do the Knights Pose a Threat? article feature image

Dylan Buell/Getty Images. Pictured: Desmond Ridder.

  • Central Florida travels to Cincinnati to take on the No. 3 Bearcats in an AAC clash.
  • The Bearcats remain undefeated and still have hopes of the College Football Playoff.
  • Kyle Remillard breaks down this duel and offers up his best pick.

Cincinnati vs. UCF Odds

Cincinnati Odds-21.5 (-105)
UCF Odds+21.5 (-115)
Moneyline-1600 / +900
Over/Under56.5 (-110 / -110)
Time12 p.m. ET
Odds via DraftKings. Get up-to-the-minute college football odds here.

Flashback to five years ago. Central Florida was pitching its case to the college football committee after finishing undefeated and going on a 19-game win streak.

Meanwhile, the Cincinnati Bearcats were in rebuild mode after finishing 4-8 overall in Luke Fickell’s first season.

It seems like the situation the two programs find themselves in today, except the roles have been reversed.

UCF has opened the season with a rather disappointing 3-2 record in the first year of Gus Malzahn’s tenure. The Knights have been hit hard by the injury bug on both sides of the ball and are scrambling to salvage the season before it's too late.

The Knights have been favored in each game this season but have yet to cover a spread. They’re 0-4 against the spread, including two outright losses to Louisville and as a 15-point favorite to Navy.

Cincinnati jumped to the No. 3 team in the latest AP rankings and hopes to keep its dream of playing in the College Football Playoff alive. The Bearcats survived the toughest portion of their schedule after defeating Indiana and Notre Dame.

This game was also circled on the schedule for Cincinnati before the season, but injuries on the UCF side has taken the buzz away from this matchup.

UCF vs. Cincinnati Betting Preview

Saturday, Oct. 16
12 p.m. ET

Central Florida Knights

UCF Offense

The good news is the UCF offense was able to put together a game-winning touchdown drive to outlast East Carolina last week.

The bad news is how poor the Knights looked during the rest of the game without their core position players.

UCF was without quarterback Dillon Gabriel, running back Isaiah Bowser and wide receiver Jaylon Robinson.

To put those losses in perspective, Bowser ran for 172 yards and a touchdown in a Week 1 win over Boise State, while Gabriel threw for 318 yards and four touchdowns, one of which Robinson caught one.

Quarterback Mikey Keene has replaced Gabriel under center but has looked shaky through two starts. In those games, he has averaged 6.3 yards per attempt while tossing two touchdowns and two interceptions.

Keene has yet to show a great deal of confidence and that was playing against two of the bottom-ranked defenses in Navy and East Carolina. The odds are stacked against him as he travels to a hostile environment against one of the top units in the country.

Johnny Richardson has been a solid replacement for Bowser in the backfield. He’s averaged 7.1 yards per carry in his two starts but is in for a tough challenge against a Bearcats defense that has allowed just 3.3 yards per carry.

UCF Defense

The UCF defense is as depleted as the offense thanks to some injuries to key players.

The Knights' two starting defensive tackles in Kalia Davis and Ricky Barber are both out, while starting linebacker Eriq Gilyard announced last week that he is leaving the program to enter the transfer portal.

This defense hasn’t been anything special, allowing 30 points per game in the Knights' FBS matchups and having recorded just two sacks in the first four games before recording five against East Carolina.

UCF's defense ranks 98th in Line Yards and has failed to pressure quarterbacks. That will be an even tougher challenge against an experienced Cincinnati offensive line.

UCF ranks 98th in creating Havoc and will be outmatched by a Bearcats offense that ranks 20th in the same statistic.

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Cincinnati Bearcats

Cincinnati Offense

Cincinnati owns an efficient and well-balanced offensive machine that has averaged over 40 points per game this season.

Senior quarterback Desmond Ridder has surpassed 8,000 career passing yards and 10,000 yards of total offense. This season has been one of his best with 12 touchdowns to just two interceptions while completing 66% of his passes and averaging 9.0 yards per attempt.

Ridder has found nine separate teammates for touchdowns this season. Among them is Alec Pierce, who leads the team in both receptions and yards.

Near the end of the first quarter, WR Alec Pierce went over his defender to secure the grab for the first of 7️⃣ @GoBearcatsFB touchdowns on the night.

It's today's Fujitec Skilled Play of the Game!

— Cincinnati Bearcats (@GoBEARCATS) October 9, 2021

The Bearcats rank 29th in Rushing Success Rate and have averaged 5.4 yards per carry. Jerome Ford is the workhorse back, who has averaged 6.3 yards per carry and recorded eight touchdowns this season.

Cincinnati’s offense isn’t afraid to keep the foot on the gas pedal, as we saw with the 52-3 win over Temple last week.

Cincinnati Defense

The Bearcats' defense is one of the top groups in the nation, allowing 12 points and fewer than 300 total yards of offense per game.

Moving the chains against the Bearcats is no easy feat. They’ve allowed just 3.3 yards per carry and 5.1 yards per passing attempt this season. Opposing teams are converting third downs on just 32% of their attempts.

Cincinnati owns the best pass rush in the nation, according to PFF,  with 34 tackles for loss, including 12 sacks.

The Bearcats defense ranks fifth in the nation in turnover margin, forcing nine interceptions and recovering four fumbles. It is a top-10 unit in terms of creating Havoc and is strong in preventing teams from finishing drives.

UCF vs. Cincinnati Matchup Analysis

Toggle the dropdowns below to hide or show how UCF and Cincinnati match up statistically:

UCF Offense vs. Cincinnati Defense
Rush Success1811
Line Yards230
Pass Success8113
Pass Blocking**81
Big Play741
Finishing Drives74
** Pass Blocking (Off.) vs. Pass Rush (Def.)

Cincinnati Offense vs. UCF Defense
Rush Success2950
Line Yards3833
Pass Success4853
Pass Blocking**9545
Big Play5377
Finishing Drives15105
** Pass Blocking (Off.) vs. Pass Rush (Def.)

Pace of Play / Other
PFF Tackling5518
Middle 8292
SP+ Special Teams18111
Plays per Minute1870
Rush Rate51.5% (79)51.9% (76)

Data via College Football Data, FootballOutsiders, SP+, PFF and SportSource Analytics.

UCF vs. Cincinnati Betting Pick

The Bearcats are on the cusp of making history by being the first Group of Five team to make the College Football Playoff. There is still a lot of debate about whether they're worthy, but they are going to attempt to run up the score  whenever they can to improve their resume.

Cincinnati is riding a 23-game win streak when playing in front of the home crowd at Nippert Stadium. The atmosphere will be electric for a lopsided chapter of the American Athletic Conference rivalry.

UCF’s offense has struggled to move the ball the last two times out with all the new faces in the lineup. The Cincinnati defense is going to feast on Keene, who will be making just his third start of his career in a hostile environment.

The UCF defense, meanwhile, hasn’t been able to stop anyone as of late, and none have been at the same caliber as Cincinnati’s offense.

I’m taking the Bearcats who will roll in this matchup and make this a statement win to help boost their opportunity of getting into the playoff.

Pick: Cincinnati -21 

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