UCF vs. Houston Betting Odds & Pick: Betting Value on Knights For Saturday’s Game
Patrick Smith/Getty Images. Pictured: Houston Cougars standouts Clayton Tune, left, and Christian Trahan.
- Marquee offenses take center stage Saturday when Central Florida takes on Houston.
- The Golden Knights enter the game as 2.5-point favorites.
- Darin Gardner tells us why he likes Central Florida to win and cover in this spot.
UCF at Houston Odds
|UCF Odds||-2.5 [BET NOW]|
|Houston Odds||+2.5 [BET NOW]|
|Moneyline||-139/+108 [BET NOW]|
|Over/Under||81 [BET NOW]|
|Time||Saturday, 2 p.m. ET|
|Odds as of Saturday morning and via DraftKings. Get up to a $1,000 sign-up bonus at DraftKings today or see more offers and reviews for the best online sportsbooks.|
On Saturday, we get a rare game with a total set in the 80s, as Houston takes on Central Florida in a battle of high-flying offenses led by quarterbacks who have been very efficient this season.
After waiting several weeks to get started, Houston heads into this contest undefeated in American Athletic Conference play. On the other side, UCF is sitting at 2-2 in conference play after enduring two losses by a combined total of nine points.
This matchup has major implications on the AAC title race as well. UCF, which was won the AAC championship in two of the last three years, will need a win here to have any realistic shot of making it to the finale.
Houston, on the other hand, looks to remain undefeated and get back to the AAC Championship game for the first time since 2015.
Known for its offense, things are too different this season at Central Florida.
The Knights are averaging 41.5 points per game, which trails only Alabama and Clemson among teams that have played more than one game. Quarterback Dillon Gabriel has been very effective this season, ranking seventh in EPA (expected points added) per pass attempt.
He has also been effective as a runner, ranking 13th among quarterbacks in EPA per rush.
As a whole, the Knights’ offense is eighth in yards per play, 11th in EPA, and 21st in Success Rate. Central Florida only trails Northwestern in first downs per game, which is a sentence I never imagined I would write.
The Knights thrive on explosiveness as well. They rank third among teams who have played at least one game in percentage of plays that gain at least 20 yards (10.2%). In the trenches, the Knights rank 12th in Sack Rate, and the offense as a whole ranks 31st in Havoc allowed.
When you have an offense that runs the most plays per game in the nation, sometimes it can hurt the defense to a degree. Central Florida’s defense has definitely taken a step back from 2019.
This season, the Knights rank 44th in EPA and 66th in Success Rate defensively. While the offense is very successful at creating explosive plays, the defense has not been able to prevent explosiveness. It ranks 79th in explosive play percentage, allowing 8.1% of opponent plays to go for at least 20 yards.
One area in which the defense has had success is with Havoc, as the Knights rank 23rd in that metric.
Houston has shown a lot of improvement in coach Dana Holgorsen’s second season with the team.
After three games, the Cougars’ offense ranks 26th in EPA, 34th in Success Rate, 37th in yards per play, and 31st in first downs per game. Quarterback Clayton Tune has been one of the best in the conference, ranking 14th nationally in EPA per pass attempt. Houston has not hit the big plays quite as often as UCF but still ranks 22nd in explosive play percentage.
Two areas in which the offense needs to improve going forward is limiting Havoc and improving the rushing game. The Cougars rank 61st in Havoc allowed, which is likely a result of poor offensive line play. Houston’s line ranks 79th in Line yards, 75th in Stuff Rate, and 58th in Sack Rate.
As a whole, the offense ranks 64th in Rushing Success Rate. UCF’s defense actually ranks 13th in EPA against the rush, so Houston could struggle in that department in this matchup.
Houston fielded an atrocious defense in 2019, but it looks to have rebounded this season. The Cougars have excelled on the defensive line, ranking ninth in Line Yards, sixth in Stuff Rate, and sixth in Sack Rate.
However, its Sack Rate is somewhat skewed by a six-sack performance in its opener against Tulane. Since then, Houston has only gotten to the quarterback twice in each game. The Cougars ranked 108th in Sack Rate in 2019, so I am still a little skeptical of their ability to consistently rush the passer.
While Houston has been great in the front seven, the secondary has struggled to a degree. The Cougars rank 75th in EPA against the pass and 54th in explosive play percentage. BYU hit several huge plays against Houston, which has me believing UCF should be able to do the same.
Betting Analysis & Pick
In my opinion, this incredibly high total is justified. I have it set at 84 points, so I don’t see a whole lot of value in that department.
However, I do see some value on UCF if you can get it under three points. BYU, which is the only good passing offense Houston has played this season, allowed quarterback Zach Wilson to throw for 400 yards and four touchdowns in that meeting.
Other than that, Houston has faced a triple option team in Navy and a Tulane club that passes the ball less than 40% of the time. I have a lot of trust in the UCF offense, and it should be able to continue to consistently hit explosive plays against a suspect secondary.
If you have any interest, you can probably get a decent number on Houston live at some point and shoot for a middle. Central Florida has had issues with giving up leads this year, so this might not be a bad option if the opportunity presents itself.
Pick: UCF -3