LSU-UCF Betting Guide: Tigers Missing Key Defensive Players in 2019 Fiesta Bowl

LSU-UCF Betting Guide: Tigers Missing Key Defensive Players in 2019 Fiesta Bowl article feature image
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USA TODAY Sports. Pictured: Joe Burrow and Darriel Mack Jr.

2019 Fiesta Bowl Betting Odds: LSU-UCF

  • Odds: LSU -7
  • Over/Under: 57.5
  • Date: Tuesday, Jan. 1
  • Location: Glendale, Ariz.
  • Time: 1 p.m. ET
  • TV: ESPN

>> All odds as of Monday. Download The Action Network App to get real-time bowl odds and win probabilities on your bets


LSU survived the toughest schedule in the nation, winning nine games and earning a spot in a New Year’s Six Bowl.

The Tigers will face UCF, which brings a 25-game winning streak over the last two years. The Knights are missing star quarterback McKenzie Milton, but LSU is down a few key pieces on defense.

Odds Movement for Fiesta Bowl

By Danny Donahue

Despite a majority of bettors laying the points, this line has fallen from LSU -8 to -7. The 45% of bets on UCF have generated 47% of actual dollars.

The over has been a huge hit among bettors, drawing 89% of bets and 93% of money. That’s bumped the total up from 54.5 to 57.5.

Worse Record, Better Team?

By Evan Abrams

LSU is up against a superior opponent when it comes to its win-loss record, but inferior opponent when it comes to the point spread.

Since 2005, this has been a recipe for SEC success in bowl season. When the SEC has a worse winning percentage, but is favored in the bowl game, their teams are 24-9 (72.7%) straight up (SU), winning by 11.4 PPG, and 19-14 (57.6%) against the spread( ATS), covering by 4.9 PPG.

Both Teams Missing Key Pieces

By Steve Petrella

You can’t mention injuries without UCF’s McKenzie Milton, the team’s star quarterback who was lost for the season in late November due to a gruesome leg injury. Backup Darriel Mack Jr. looked great in his place against Memphis, throwing for 348 yards and two scores while running for 59 yards and four touchdowns.

He’ll face a depleted LSU secondary that will be without star cornerback Greedy Williams, starter Kristian Fulton and backup Kelvin Joseph. The defensive line will also be missing two key pieces.

The Tigers will start senior Terrance Alexander and sophomore Kary Vincent, who have both made 20 tackles and broken up three passes this season. Vincent was a top-100 recruit two years ago.

Strength of Schedule Mismatch

By Stuckey

LSU played the toughest schedule in all of college football and held up incredibly well. Central Florida? The 83rd toughest. Those tests throughout the season could pay dividends on the first day of 2019.

At the end of the day, the biggest mismatch will be in the trenches. This is an SEC team vs. an AAC team. It was ultimately the deciding factor that made any and all metrics going into the Purdue-Auburn game irrelevant. Auburn won in a landslide.

By Steve Petrella

The AAC has been waxed in bowl season, with teams like Temple, Houston and South Florida getting blown out. The league is 1-4 ATS this postseason.

The conference took heat for its poor quality when UCF’s schedule and playoff viability came under the spotlight, so the Knights have a chance to make up for it against LSU.

UCF Plays Lightning Fast

By Stuckey

You can’t mention UCF without pace. The Knights go as fast as any team in the nation, ranking No. 1 in Adjusted Pace. LSU isn’t close to that level, but the Tigers are no snail, ranking in the top 50 in that same category. Caveat emptor to all under backers.

Another factor that could help the over is the field goal kicking, as both teams have excellent kickers (and just great special teams in general). Per S&P+, LSU ranks No. 2 overall in special teams and UCF comes in at No. 15.

Who’s More Motivated?

By Stuckey

I don’t think motivation will be an issue for either team in this year’s Fiesta Bowl. UCF is trying to cap off another undefeated season and maybe claim another “national championship.”

And I don’t think it will benefit from running into a disinterested SEC team as UCF did last year on New Year’s Day. LSU seems to have a little extra motivation to end the Knights’ streak.

Bet to Watch

By Collin Wilson

Although I like LSU in this game, there are a number of defensive sit-outs that make it wise to shop for the best number. LSU will be without four starters on defense including Greedy Williams, Kristian Fulton, Breiden Fehoko and Ed Alexander.

Cornerback Kelvin Joseph will also miss the game due to violation of team rules. The Tigers defense will be thin, specifically at the corner position.

It’s worth mentioning the strength of schedule difference between the two teams, as LSU has the top rated schedule against Central Florida at 83rd. The LSU defense is 14th against explosiveness and 29th in efficiency — and those numbers came with the bulk of its starters against the toughest opponents in the country.

New UCF quarterback Darriel Mack Jr. will be the Knights’ biggest threat, specifically in the red zone after his impressive AAC Championship Game.

LSU holds an advantage offensively in the trench, with Central Florida ranking 71st in rush efficiency and 108th in opportunity rate. The Knights should not cause any disruption in the backfield, giving running back Nick Brossette and quarterback Joe Burrow the advantage in this game.

Collin’s Pick: Pass at current spread

Get all of Collin’s bets in real-time — like LSU -4 as soon as the line opened — with The Action Network app.