USF vs. UCF Odds, Picks and Predictions: Why You Should Bet the Under in Friday’s In-State College Football Rivalry Game (Nov. 26)

USF vs. UCF Odds, Picks and Predictions: Why You Should Bet the Under in Friday’s In-State College Football Rivalry Game (Nov. 26) article feature image

Andrew Bershaw/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images. Pictured: Ryan O’Keefe.

  • The South Florida Bulls and UCF Knights kick off their annual in-state AAC rivalry game on Friday, Nov. 26 at 3:30 p.m. ET on ESPN.
  • USF (+18) opened as 19-point underdogs, but the point spread has moved slightly in the Bulls' favor across the betting market.
  • However, it is the game's over/under that has the attention of our college football betting analyst, who advocates for betting the under at current, updated odds.

USF vs. UCF Odds

Friday, Nov. 26
3:30 p.m. ET
USF Odds
-110o / -110u
UCF Odds
-110o / -110u
Odds via DraftKings. Get up-to-the-minute college football odds here.

There are a lot of good names for the rivalry games we’ll see this week in college football, but the War On I-4 is one of my personal favorites. For those unfamiliar, it’s named after Interstate 4, which goes from Orlando to Tampa, where each of these schools are located.

From personal experience, I lived right on that highway for four months in my senior year of college and had to drive it every day, and I’m not sure that there’s a highway in the United States I hate more than this one. Just absolute chaos every single day.

Anyway, getting back to the game, it seems like just yesterday that an explosive USF offense led by quarterback Quinton Flowers was trying to spoil UCF’s undefeated season.

The Knights have definitely had the upper hand for a while, though, with South Florida’s last victory in this matchup coming in 2016. Most recently, UCF pulled out a 58-46 win in what turned into a shootout last season.

This season, UCF will try to get to 8-4 with a win here, which is no small feat considering it lost stud quarterback Dillon Gabriel early in the season. USF hasn’t enjoyed much success in coach Jeff Scott’s second season, though, entering this game at 2-9.

As you could probably guess, it’s a big spread in favor of the Knights, but are there any edges that the Bulls can exploit?

USF Bulls

Bulls Offense

This South Florida offense really hasn’t been very good this season, ranking 96th in Expected Points Added (EPA) per play.

At quarterback, Timmy McClain ranks in the bottom 15 of the position in both PFF Passing Grade and Adjusted Completion Percentage, which has been a big reason for the Bulls’ struggles through the air this year.

He’s also thrown only five touchdowns on the season, which is tied for dead last among quarterbacks with at least 200 attempts. It’s hard to see this group moving the ball with much consistency against a strong UCF secondary.

The ground game has been decent at some points, ranking 62nd in Rushing Success Rate.

Running back Kelley Joiner is second on the totem pole with 75 carries on the year. He has absolutely made the most of that workload, as his 90.6 PFF rushing grade ranks 11th among running backs with at least that many attempts. It seems that the coaching staff has taken notice, though, as he led the team in carries last week for the first time all season. 

Bulls Defense

There’s not much to say about this defense other than the fact that it’s been an Achilles' heel, ranking 126th in points allowed per drive. You can really pick anywhere to exploit this group, as it’s ranked in the bottom 10 in terms of EPA per pass and EPA per rush.

It’s true that UCF’s passing game hasn’t been great since Gabriel went out, but the offensive line still needs some shine in that department, as it’s grading as the fifth-best pass protecting unit in the country in terms of PFF grade.

That should be an utterly dominant matchup in this contest, with the Bulls ranking dead last in the country in sack rate. This could definitely serve as a confidence booster for UCF’s young quarterback.

We know that UCF’s ground game has been the most productive facet of the offense, though, and the Knights should have no trouble consistently moving the ball there all night long.

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UCF Knights

Knights Offense

After Gabriel went down at quarterback, it vaulted true freshman Mikey Keene into the starter’s role, and he hasn’t really been able to come all that close to replacing the production of Gabriel.

To be fair to him, though, most college football quarterbacks wouldn’t come close to Gabriel’s ridiculous production. 

Among 118 quarterbacks with at least 200 dropbacks, Keene’s 65.9 PFF Passing Grade ranks 90th, and his 6.6 yards per attempt is tied for 99th. The passing game overall has taken a significant step back as well, ranking 78th in Passing Success Rate. 

The ground game has been much more effective, though, which ranks 28th in EPA per carry. Northwestern transfer Isaiah Bowser had been the lead back, but his injury has opened up more playing time for primary backup Johnny Richardson and third-stringer Mark-Antony Richards in the backfield.

Richardson has had very solid production in his 93 attempts this season by averaging 6.3 yards per carry and generating 21 explosive runs. 

Knights Defense

The UCF secondary has arguably been the best unit on the team, and the unit has the Knights sitting at 14th in yards allowed per pass attempt.

Davonte Brown has been a major reason why, as he’s currently grading as the third-best cornerback in the American Athletic Conference, per PFF. He hasn’t allowed a single touchdown on 343 coverage snaps.

The front seven hasn’t been as effective, though, as it’s been mediocre in terms of pass-rushing and defending the run. The Knights’ pass rush ranks 61st in Pressure Rate, and the run defense ranks 89th in EPA per carry allowed.

While the group as a whole hasn’t been particularly impressive, UCF has received very quality play from Auburn transfer Big Kat Bryant on the edge, as his 13 tackles for loss and 40 pressures both rank second in the conference. Outside of him, though, there hasn’t been much production from this front seven.

USF vs. UCF Matchup Analysis

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

USF Offense vs. UCF Defense
Rush Success6272
Line Yards8671
Pass Success10726
Pass Blocking**9165
Big Play8084
Finishing Drives9949
** Pass Blocking (Off.) vs. Pass Rush (Def.)

UCF Offense vs. USF Defense
Rush Success2693
Line Yards1387
Pass Success78130
Pass Blocking**70113
Big Play39125
Finishing Drives10107
** Pass Blocking (Off.) vs. Pass Rush (Def.)

Pace of Play / Other
PFF Tackling130113
Middle 811218
SP+ Special Teams36112
Plays per Minute5549
Rush Rate57.8% (43)54.1% (71)

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

USF vs. UCF Betting Pick

This UCF offense really hasn’t been very impressive this season, but the Bulls defense has been liable to get lit up by just about anyone.

There are still plenty of reasons to doubt the Knights’ passing game, but the rushing attack is in store for another big day after hitting UConn for eight yards per carry a week ago.

Meanwhile, USF’s offense could find some degree of success on the ground with its backfield duo against a UCF front seven that has been generous to opposing running backs.

It’s hard to see the Bulls moving the ball through the air much at all against this secondary, though, which raises big concerns on USF’s ability to pull itself back into the game if the Knights are able to build a lead.

It all comes down to the number at the end of the day, and I think this total is just a touch too high, despite an awful USF defense.

I project this at 58.6, and while the South Florida defense is definitely a concern, I wouldn't expect the Bulls' offense to contribute much on the scoreboard.

Pick: Under 62

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