An important part of the college football playoff debate will be featured this Bowl Week with the Central Florida Knights. For the second year in a row this Group of Five power was on the outside looking in when it came to the playoff. As a consolation prize the Knights will get a New Year’s Day bowl bid as they did last year. One year ago, Central Florida upset Auburn 34-27 in the Peach Bowl to earn a considerable amount of credibility and respect. This year the Knights will get their shot against the LSU Tigers, one of the most talented teams from the Southeastern Conference. With a Fiesta Bowl win head coach Ed Orgeron’s Bayou Bengals can achieve their first ten-win season since 2013.
Watch the PlayStation Fiesta Bowl live on Wednesday, January 1, 2019, at State Farm Stadium, Glendale, Arizona with kickoff set for 1 p.m. ET. The game can be seen on ESPN.
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Live Betting Odds Analysis
This line is based almost entirely on LSU’s reputation as a top contender from the Southeastern Conference. Further, the general betting public still carries a lot of skepticism about the Group of Five teams, regardless of record.
Heupel Maintains UCF Streak
Central Florida began the season with plenty of doubts and uncertainty after head coach Scott Frost went home to Nebraska following the 13-0 landmark campaign of 2017. Josh Heupel was hired and faced the unenviable task of being that man that follows the legend. Heupel could not have done better as he led Central Florida to a record of 12-0 and the championship of the American Athletic Conference. Most important of all the Knights were a highly profitable 9-3 against the spread this year and were a reliable 4-8 under the total. Heupel, a former quarterback at Oklahoma who went on to be an offensive coordinator for his alma mater and at Missouri, maintained the Knights explosive offense. Defensively Central Florida held their own with a bend but don’t break unit.
Orgeron Exceeds Expectations on Bayou
When Ed Orgeron took over as full-time head coach of LSU the hiring was derided as a case of the Tigers settling for a coach that nobody else wanted. Instead Orgeron has won over the faithful by not only improving the program but stepping it up in recruiting. LSU finished 9-3 straight up, 6-6 against the spread and 6-5-1 over the total. While the Tigers offense remains a work in progress, it has improved in Orgeron’s two years on the job. The biggest problem LSU faces in being in the same SEC West Division as the Alabama Crimson Tide.
Central Florida has the nation’s third ranked offense overall and ranked fifth for scoring. Defensively the Knights ranked 85th overall but a much more impressive 24th for point allowed.
LSU improved offensively to rank 46th in the nation for scoring. As usual the Bayou Bengals were strong defensively with rankings of 30th overall and 22nd for points allowed.
The Missing Link
Of major concern for the Fiesta Bowl is the injury to record setting superstar quarterback McKenzie Milton of Central Florida. Milton is out with a knee injury. However, Darriel Mack Jr. has been effective in stepping into the void. In UCF’s 56-41 win over Memphis in the AAC Championship Game, Mack threw for 348 yards and two touchdowns while rushing for an additional 9 yards and four TD’s. Best of all Mack maintained his poise in rallying the Knights back from a 17-point halftime deficit.
Free Live Betting ATS Pick
UCF is getting plenty of points here and has the offense to stay within the number at the very least. LSU’s offense, while improved, is not one that can be relied upon to cover such a number against a quality opponent.
NCAA Football Odds: Central Florida Knights
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