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UCF vs Duke Odds, Picks: Military Bowl Betting Value on Underdog

UCF vs Duke Odds, Picks: Military Bowl Betting Value on Underdog article feature image
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Julio Aguilar/Getty Images and David Jensen/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images. Pictured from left: Xavier Townsend (3) of the UCF Knights and Jalon Calhoun (5) of the Duke Blue Devils.

UCF vs Duke Odds

Wednesday, Dec. 28
2 p.m. ET
ESPN
UCF Odds
Spread Total Moneyline
+3
-110
63
-110o / -110u
+140
Duke Odds
Spread Total Moneyline
-3
-110
63
-110o / -110u
-165
Odds via DraftKings. Get up-to-the-minute college football odds here.

UCF and Duke travel to Annapolis, Maryland, to battle in the Military Bowl to kick off Wednesday’s college football bowl action.

UCF fell short in the AAC Championship, losing handily to Tulane on the road. The Knights put together a solid season, going 9-4 in Gus Malzahn’s third year in charge.

As they make the switch to the Big 12, this will be a good test against another Power Five school.

Expectations were very low in Mike Elko’s first season in Durham, but the Blue Devils blew past those expectations by winning four of their last five games of the season to finish 8-4 on the year.

All of Duke’s losses this season have come by one score or less, so this team could have very easily could have made the ACC title game.


Central Florida Knights

Knights Offense

Malzahn’s rushing attack is one to fear. The Knights averaged 5.2 yards per carry as a team while ranking 14th in Rushing Success Rate, 14th in EPA/Rush and 29th in rushing explosiveness.

A lot of their success on the ground stems from quarterback John Rhys Plumlee running out of the read option. Plumlee led the team in rushing, averaging 5.8 yards per carry and posting 25 runs of at least 10 yards.

He will be an X-factor against a Duke front seven that has been very averaged against the run this season.

The biggest advantage that UCF has had all season has been its offensive line. The Knights have the second-best pass-blocking grade and the 16th-best run-blocking grade, per PFF. It also ranks top-10 in Offensive Line Yards.

UCF runs the ball on 58.2% of offensive plays, but Plumlee has been an excellent deep-ball passer when the Knights do have to throw. He has a 91.8 PFF passing grade with 17 big-time throws on passes that travel over 20 yards in the air.

Duke ranks outside the top 100 in EPA/Pass Allowed, so Plumlee’s deep ball could be key in this game.

Knights Defense

UCF’s defense has been below average this season, mainly because it’s allowed way too many big plays. The Knights sit 103rd in explosiveness allowed and give up 5.8 yards per play.

Central Florida has struggled againat the run, allowing 4.8 yards per carry. It ranks top-35 in Rushing Success Rate Allowed and Stuff Rate but sits 113th in rushing explosiveness allowed, which is a big concern against this Duke rushing attack.

The secondary has had all sorts of problems, as the Knights are 91st in Passing Success Rate allowed and 92nd in EPA/Pass.

Tulane threw for 394 yards and 11.9 yards per attempt in the AAC Championship, so it could be a long day for UCF’s defense.

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Duke Blue Devils

Blue Devils Offense

Duke’s offense has been really average this season. It ranks 56th in Success Rate, 57th in explosiveness and 69th in EPA/Play.

Its rushing attack is what has gotten it to 8-4 on the season. The Blue Devils are similar to UCF in that they are predominately a rushing team. Their starting quarterback, Riley Leonard, leads the team in rushing and averages 5.6 yards per carry and has 11 touchdowns on the ground.

Running back Jordan Waters is having a decent season as well, averaging 4.7 yards per carry with an 80.7 PFF rushing grade. It’s the reason why Duke is top-30 in both Rushing Success Rate and EPA/Rush.

However, Leonard has been a below-average passer this season, so I’m not sure Duke will be able to exploit UCF’s weakness in the secondary.

Leonard owns a 68.5 PFF passing grade and has been quite poor on passes under 10 yards, as his PFF passing grade sits below 66 on those throws. UCF, meanwhile, ranks in the top half of college football in explosive passing allowed.

Blue Devils Defense

Duke’s defense has been below average this season despite sporting an 8-4 record. The Blue Devils rank 95th in Success Rate Allowed and 75th in EPA/Play Allowed.

However, they sit 17th in EPA/Rush Allowed because they don’t allow explosive rushing plays. That forces opponents to beat Duke by running a methodical offense, which they’ve found ways to do. Those teams can gain three or four yards at a time, as the Blue Devils rank 70th in Rushing Success Rate Allowed, 69th in Defensive Line Yards, and 66th in Stuff Rate.

The biggest thing with Duke is that it has been very fortunate in the turnover department. Duke owns a +14 turnover margin and has had 24 takeaways this season, trailing only USC.

Despite its ability to take the ball away from the opposing offense, this secondary has been quite bad this season. It allows 7.4 yards per attempt while ranking 104th in Passing Success Rate Allowed, 105th in EPA/Pass Allowed and 96th in terms of coverage grade.

Plumlee shouldn’t have a problem throwing all over Duke.


UCF vs Duke Matchup Analysis

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

UCF Offense vs. Duke Defense
Offense
Defense
Edge
Rush Success 14 70
Line Yards 9 69
Pass Success 33 104
Pass Blocking** 2 36
Havoc 34 44
Finishing Drives 55 82
** Pass Blocking (Off.) vs. Pass Rush (Def.)

Duke Offense vs. UCF Defense
Offense
Defense
Edge
Rush Success 31 28
Line Yards 16 51
Pass Success 77 80
Pass Blocking** 56 91
Havoc 13 59
Finishing Drives 60 30
** Pass Blocking (Off.) vs. Pass Rush (Def.)

Pace of Play / Other
PFF Tackling 64 60
PFF Coverage 73 96
SP+ Special Teams 67 57
Seconds per Play 24.4 (26) 29.2 (117)
Rush Rate 58.2% (29) 54.5% (62)
Data via CollegeFootballData.com (CFBD), FootballOutsiders, SP+, Pro Football Focus and SportSource Analytics.

UCF vs Duke Betting Pick

The line for this game has swung drastically in favor of Duke. UCF opened as a -3.5 favorite, but it’s now a +3.5 underdog at most books.

There isn’t any news regarding Plumlee’s availability for this game, but he did confirm that he will return to UCF next season. If Plumlee plays, I have a hard time seeing how Duke’s defense is going to stop UCF’s offense — especially if it can’t keep forcing turnovers.

I have UCF projected as a -4.7 favorite, so I like the value on the Knights at +3.5 if Plumlee plays.

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