College Football Free Betting Pick: Houston Cougars vs. UCF Knights

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A couple of schools that like to run the football, Head Coach Dana Holgorsen and the Houston Cougars (+23) are taking the field against the UCF Knights at Spectrum Stadium. The opening kickoff for this conference showdown is set for 12:00 p.m. ET and fans can catch it live by tuning in to ESPN2. These two conference foes did not get a chance to face each other a year ago.

Betting Preview: Houston Cougars at UCF Knights

UCF has been tabbed as the heavy favorite and is currently giving up 23 points to Houston. If the Knights get down early it will create a worthwhile in-game betting opportunity. Vegas has set the over/under (O/U) at 69 points.

The total has not moved after being initially posted at 69. Having said that, the opening line was -22 and has recently moved down to -23.

The Cougars have lost 1.5 units so far in 2019 and are 4-4 against the spread (ATS). The team has posted an O/U record of 3-4-1.

The Knights have lost 2.8 units for moneyline bettors this season. They’re 4-4 ATS and own an O/U record of 5-3.

The Cougars have gone only 3-5 straight up (SU), including 1-3 SU against AAC opponents. The Knights are 6-2 SU overall and 3-1 SU in conference play.

The Cougars lost to SMU 34-31 in a game where their defense allowed the Mustangs to eat up the clock by rushing for 182 yards on 34 attempts, including two rush TDs. Xavier Jones had a good day for the Mustangs in that one with 133 rushing yards and both touchdowns on 22 attempts. On the offensive side, Clayton Tune completed only 18-of-35 passes for 407 yards, two touchdowns and one interception. Mulbah Car (136 yards on 18 rush attempts) mounted the ground attack. Marquez Stevenson (five receptions, 211 yards, two TDs) and Jeremy Singleton (four catches, 54 yards) shared the receiving duties in the defeat.

UCF is coming off of a 63-21 win over Temple. The defensive unit did its part in the victory, restricting the Owls to only 221 passing yards and 45 rushing yards. Branden Mack was a bright spot in the defeat, recording 104 yards on five catches for Temple. For UCF, Dillon Gabriel completed 10-of-21 passes for 218 yards and three touchdowns. Otis Anderson (205 rushing yards on 17 attempts, one TD) and Bentavious Thompson (87 yards on 10 carries, two TDs) mounted the running game as Gabriel Davis (three receptions, 83 yards) and Marlon Williams (three catches, 81 yards, one TD) led the receiving corps in the win.

Houston has run the ball on 59.5 percent of its offensive possessions this year while UCF has a rush percentage of 56.9 percent. The Cougars have rushed for 206.8 yards/game (including 175.8 per game versus American Athletic Conference opponents) and have 15 touchdowns on the ground this year. The Knights are totaling 233.9 rushing yards per game (234.5 in conference) and have 22 total rush TDs.

It appears that the Knights could own the edge when it comes to applying pressure. Their offensive line has allowed just 16 sacks while their D-line has logged 19 sacks. The Cougars O-line has given up 25 sacks and their defense has recorded only 14 sacks.

The Cougars offense has tallied 201.4 yards per game in the air overall (262 per game against conference opposition) and has 13 passing TDs so far. The Knights have recorded 327.5 pass yards per contest (329 against AAC competition) and have 26 total pass scores.

Defensively, Houston has let opponents run for an average of 175 yards and pass for 287.8 yards per game. The UCF D has allowed 213.6 yards per game to opposing passers and 125.6 yards per game to opposing runners. The Knights are giving up an adjusted net yards per pass attempt (ANY/A) of only 4.38 to opponents, while the Cougars have allowed a 7.78 ANY/A.

Offensively, Tune is up to 715 passing yards on the year. The signal-caller has completed 52 percent of his 82 attempts with five scores through the air and four interceptions. Tune’s got a 6.22 adjusted net yards per pass attempt overall, although that number is 8.36 over the last two games.

In the home locker room, Dillon Gabriel has managed to complete 109-of-187 passes for 1,853 yards, 18 TDs and five INTs. Gabriel’s ANY/A sits at 9.63 for the season and 11.32 over his last two games.

Houston Cougars vs. UCF Knights NCAA Pick

SU Winner: UCF, ATS Winner: Houston, O/U: Under

Betting Trends

  • The UCF offense has lost five fumbles this season while Houston has lost six.
  • The UCF defense has registered 19 sacks on the year while Houston has 14.
  • As a team, Houston has averaged 3.6 yards per carry across its past three contests and 2.8 over its last two.
  • UCF has averaged 5.2 yards per carry over its last three games and 6.1 over its past two.