UCF vs. SMU Odds, Picks, Predictions: Your Betting Guide for Saturday’s AAC Showdown (November 13)

UCF vs. SMU Odds, Picks, Predictions: Your Betting Guide for Saturday’s AAC Showdown (November 13) article feature image

Dylan Buell/Getty Images. Pictured: Mikey Keene.

  • The UCF Knights and SMU Mustangs take the field in AAC college football action on Saturday.
  • Updated odds have the Mustangs entering as favorites at -7.
  • Anthony Dabbundo breaks down the game below and shares his top betting pick.

UCF vs. SMU Odds

Saturday, Nov. 13
12 p.m. ET
UCF Odds
-110o / -110u
SMU Odds
-110o / -110u
Odds via DraftKings. Get up-to-the-minute college football odds here.

The American Athletic Conference has two teams that appear to be clearly above the rest in the conference this season, with Cincinnati in the College Football Playoff conversation and Houston rolling through the conference with just one non-conference loss to Texas Tech on the schedule.

With those two clearly ahead, Saturday's matchup between UCF and SMU becomes a battle for third. Neither team has a realistic shot at the conference championship game, but both have clinched bowl games already.

SMU won its first seven games of the season against an easy schedule of weaker AAC opponents and a poor non-conference slate but has now lost two in a row in the middle of its four-game AAC gauntlet that included Houston, Memphis, UCF and Cincinnati next week.

UCF rebounded well from a blowout loss to the Bearcats with huge wins against Memphis and Temple, but it was perhaps looking ahead to this week when it laid an egg and barely survived against Tulane last week.

These two teams have similar resumes and advanced metrics and thus the line appears to be a bit too steep in favor of the Mustangs at home.

UCF Knights

Knights' Passing Game Should Thrive

UCF has statistical advantages almost across the board against the SMU defense and should be able to both consistently move the chains and hit plenty of explosive plays against the Mustangs.

The Knights protect their quarterback Mikey Keene as well as any team in the country, a major key against an excellent SMU pass rush.

If Keene is given time, and SMU is unable to get pressure, the Knights should be able to hit big play after big play against a defense that allows a ton of explosive plays. UCF looked flat last week against Tulane when the Knights managed just 14 points, but a fumble deep in Tulane territory and a missed field goal contributed to the lack of point-scoring.

The Knights weren't able to run the ball at all against Tulane last week, totaling just 48 rushing yards on 31 attempts. That's somewhat concerning for the Knights as they face SMU's defense that allows the fifth-lowest Rushing Success Rate in the country.  But if that leads UCF to pass more in this game, it's probably a net positive.

UCF is also pretty efficient at Finishing Drives and should be able to turn drives into points given that SMU has struggled defensively in the red zone, ranking 83rd in finishing drives defense. The Knights scoring touchdowns to keep pace with SMU shouldn't be an issue.

UCF Needs Strong Secondary Play

The most important facet of the UCF defense is the secondary on Saturday. SMU has the No. 1 pass offense in the country by Success Rate and the Knights will have to reign that in a bit if they want to keep this game and potentially pull the upset as a modest underdog.

The Knights rank 43rd in Passing Success Rate allowed and most importantly, 21st in PFF coverage grades. The ability to make life difficult for Tanner Mordecai's elite passing unit should prevent the Mustangs from going up and down the field on them.

UCF's run defense has struggled a bit with explosiveness this season, but SMU is very much a spread-it-out, pass-first offense. UCF has an above-average defense at producing Havoc, too, which could produce enough negative plays to keep this game tight.

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SMU Mustangs

Mustangs' Offense Should Move The Ball

As good as the SMU offense looks on paper, it's important to consider the strength of opponent. SMU barely snuck by La. Tech in the non-conference part of its schedule, ran all over TCU, needed a late score to beat Navy and then lost back-to-back games entering this week.

Head coach Sonny Dykes has been the subject of many head coaching rumors in recent weeks, and the Mustangs offense hasn't looked nearly as good as competition has increased.

SMU has the No. 1 offense by Passing Success Rate in the country, protects Mordecai well and can hit plenty of explosive plays. It's unlikely that UCF will be getting a ton of stops in this game, but the Knights can manage to hold them to field goals given its pretty good defensive finishing drives ratings. In a close game that should feature plenty of trading scores, a few Havoc plays or field goals forced could be the difference.

SMU Defense Struggles to Defend Big Play

The Mustangs defense inability to stop the explosive plays is a major weakness against UCF on Saturday. It's the crux of the handicap here, that even if SMU can limit the run game with its excellent defensive front, the Mustangs won't be able to stop the passing attack and the explosive plays.

PFF suggests SMU is really bad at both tackling and coverage and that's concerning given the athleticism that the Knights have on the outside. UCF head coach Gus Malzahn will scheme up ways to take advantage of a porous Mustangs defense.

UCF vs. SMU Matchup Analysis

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

UCF Offense vs. SMU Defense
Rush Success395
Line Yards2028
Pass Success7381
Pass Blocking**917
Big Play41108
Finishing Drives1983
** Pass Blocking (Off.) vs. Pass Rush (Def.)

SMU Offense vs. UCF Defense
Rush Success6960
Line Yards6269
Pass Success143
Pass Blocking**2760
Big Play1971
Finishing Drives3248
** Pass Blocking (Off.) vs. Pass Rush (Def.)

Pace of Play / Other
PFF Tackling92122
Middle 8125
SP+ Special Teams9294
Plays per Minute5123
Rush Rate55.5% (60)48.6% (106)

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

UCF vs. SMU Betting Pick

The market opened this line at eight and it has come down to the current number of seven, which is as low as I'd recommend a play on the Knights in this matchup. SMU has come falling backdown to earth with consecutive losses after being fortunate to start the season 7-0 against an easy schedule of opponents. As the tougher opponents have started to appear on the SMU schedule, the losses have followed closely behind.

UCF has the secondary to slow down the elite passing attack from SMU, especially with the Knights ability to limit big plays and tackle well. Meanwhile, SMU's defense has significant issues stopping explosive plays so UCF should be able to have a bounce back offensive performance after last week's 14 point debacle against Tulane.

The Knights should be lined at six according to our own Action Network PRO power ratings and given the edges in the defensive secondary, back the Knights to keep this close at seven or better.

Pick: UCF +7 or better

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