Temple-UCF Betting Preview: Do Owls Have Recipe to Keep it Close?
Derik Hamilton-USA TODAY Sports. Pictured: Sean Ryan
Temple at UCF Betting Odds
- Spread: UCF -10.5
- Over/Under: 62
- Time: 7:30 p.m. ET
- TV: ESPN
UCF, winners of 20 straight games, was ranked No. 12 in the initial College Football Playoff rankings. Thursday marks the beginning of a stretch that could tell us just how good the Knights are.
Milton a Game-Time Decision
Temple is preparing to face two quarterbacks this week, since UCF star QB McKenzie Milton didn’t play two weeks ago against ECU. He’ll be a game-time decision on Thursday, coach Josh Heupel said.
Darriel Mack replaced Milton vs. ECU and was great on the ground, but completed just 12-of-20 passes for 69 yards. Mack is a power runner at 6-foot-3 and 230 pounds, much bigger than Milton.
UCF Has Been a Covering Machine, But …
By Evan Abrams
Central Florida has won 20 consecutive games straight up. That is pretty damn impressive. Against the spread, Central Florida is 13-6-1 (68.4%) in that span, covering the spread by 6.6 PPG.
But this will be just the fourth time during this span that UCF will be favored against a team that is both above .500 SU and ATS. The Knights won those three games by just 7, 10 and 7 points.
Can Temple Slow UCF’s Elite Offense?
There are few reasons why I think Temple’s defense — which ranks fourth nationally in yards per play (trailing only Miami, Clemson and Michigan) — can slow down the potent UCF offense and can keep this within 10:
- The Owls can defend the pass: Temple leads the nation in pass yards per attempt allowed at a stingy 4.5 and S&P ranks the Owls as the No. 1 overall passing defense. They also have the second-best passing efficiency.
- They can can limit explosiveness: Temple ranks No. 1 in limiting explosiveness and passing explosiveness, in addition to No. 1 in big-play (20-plus yards) rate.
- Temple plays excellent red zone defense: The Owls have allowed scores on only 65.4% of opponent red zone drives, which ranks third in the nation, including a dominant 50% TD rate.
Will Temple’s Offense Do Enough?
And on the other side of the ball, I think Temple can move it down the field with a short passing attack. The Owls’ offensive line is an excellent pass-blocking unit (sixth adjusted sack rate) that should dominate a UCF defense that doesn’t really generate much pressure on the quarterback (100th adjusted sack rate).
The Knights do a great job of limiting the big play, but that’s not really Temple’s offense. Believe it or not, the Owls have a top 25 overall passing S&P+ offense.
The Pick: Temple +10.5