Prediction, Preview, and Odds
#135 Stanford University Cardinal 58 vs.
#136 University of Central Florida Knights -9
Saturday, September 14, 2019 at 3:30pm EDT
Spectrum Stadium, Orlando
Written by Chris Kubala

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#135 Stanford University
#136 University of Central Florida
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54
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It’s a pretty high-profile non-conference tilt on the college football gridiron when the Pac-12 makes the long, cross-country trip to face the AAC in week 3 college football action from the Sunshine State. The Stanford Cardinal heads out on the road as they face the #17 UCF Knights Saturday afternoon. Stanford was hammered 45-20 on the road by USC last Saturday in their conference opener. UCF rolled over Florida Atlantic 48-14 on the road last Saturday to remain unbeaten on the year. The Cardinal won the lone previous meeting between the teams, taking a 31-7 win at home on September 12, 2015.

Stanford Cardinal Looking to Regroup

Stanford went on the road to face USC without their starting quarterback and their star left tackle. The end result was typical as the Cardinal was pounded into oblivion to drop to the .500 mark on the year. Stanford led 17-3 early in the second quarter and 20-10 with eight minutes to go in the first half before things unraveled. The Cardinal was outscored 35-0 the rest of the way to take the loss. Stanford was outgained 492-335 while both teams had 23 first downs and each committed one turnover. The Cardinal owned a 33:29 to 26:31 edge in time of possession but that wasn’t a factor in the contest when all was said and done.

The Cardinal averages 235 yards per game through the air this season while they have put up 115 yards per contest on the ground. Stanford is 105th in the FBS in scoring offense as they put up 18.5 points per game this year while the team is 77th by allowing 26 points per contest. Davis Mills is 29 of 50 passing for 318 yards with a touchdown and an interception. K.J. Costello is 16 of 20 for 152 yards and a score but missed the USC game with a head injury so it will be interesting to see if he returns this week. As it stands, star offensive tackle Walker Little is out with a dislocated knee. Cameron Scarlett is the leading ground gainer for the Cardinal with 32 carries for 179 yards plus a score. Dorian Maddox (11 carries, 32 yards) is the next back in line. Connor Wedington leads the team with 12 receptions for 136 yards plus a score. Tight end Colby Parkinson (11 grabs, 127 yards) and Michael Wilson (six receptions, 47 yards, TD) are secondary options. Jet Toner has hit all four extra points and three of six field-goal tries with a long of 51.

Update: (9/12/19): Costello is expected to return at quarterback. The problem is up front where offensive tackle Walker Little, a preseason first-team AP All-American, was declared out by head coach David Shaw. Their other starting tackle, Foster Sarell, is considered doubtful with an undisclosed injury.

“He’s been an established leader and an established player on this team,” tight end Colby Parkinson said of Costello. “It’ll be nice to have the captain of the team come back, but that’s no discredit to Davis (Mills). He did a great job in his first start.”

UCF Knights Rolling Along

UCF picked up where they left off last season for the most part as they bounced back from a loss to LSU in the Fiesta Bowl to end 2018 by starting 2019 with a pair of one-sided victories. The Knights look to add another Power Five victim to their reign of terror here. UCF jumped to a 14-0 lead after the first quarter and never let Florida Atlantic close the rest of the way. The Knights racked up an impressive 574-314 edge in total offense and owned a 23-22 edge in first downs. UCF was beaten 33:09 to 26:51 in time of possession, though they did force the game’s lone turnover.

The Knights are averaging 309 yards per game through the air this season while they put up 325 yards per contest on the ground. UCF is 8th in the FBS in scoring offense as they average 55 points per game this season while the team is 11th in scoring defense as they allow just seven points per contest. Dillon Garcia is 16 of 32 passing for 372 yards with five touchdowns and no interceptions: he adds 19 rushing yards and a score. Brandon Wimbush is 12 of 23 passing for 168 yards plus two scores while adding 20 yards on the ground. Quadry Jones is three of three for 78 yards and a score while adding nine yards on the ground this season. In the rushing game, Bentavious Thompson leads the team with 13 carries for 155 yards plus a score. Greg McCrae (24 attempts, 149 yards, two TD), Adrian Killins Jr. (23 carries, 143 yards, two TD) and Otis Anderson (10 carries, 112 yards, TD) are all effective options. Gabriel Davis (six receptions, 166 yards, two TD) and Tre Nixon (six receptions, 61 yards, TD) are the top options in the passing game. Dylan Barnas is 13 of 14 on extra points and two of three on field goal attempts with a long of 42 this season. Daniel Obarski hit his lone extra point attempt and hasn’t tried a field goal this year.

“We’re in the middle of the journey, man,” said UCF head coach Josh Heupel. “I said it at the beginning of the year, talk about with our team all the time, we’re in a race to be as good as we can as fast as we can. Happy that we found a way to win the last two ball games. As a coach, it’s never going to be perfect, never going to be where you want to be. I think the thing that I am really happy about with this group is they take coaching extremely well. They recognize what they’re seeing on tape, want to improve upon it, take the coaching really well and try to incorporate it and implement it in their game. Guys came in today, were able to watch the tape early, had team meeting and went on the grass for a little bit. Thought they had a great demeanor, great attitude and looking forward to getting better.”

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Stanford completely fell apart against USC as they were unable to get anything going after taking their 20-10 advantage in the second quarter. With the Cardinal missing one of their key offensive linemen and the uncertain status of Costello, things are that much murkier for the visitors in this one. UCF has mauled their first two opponents as they look to continue that momentum. There are plenty of playmakers on the Knights’ offensive attack and it’s going to be a major challenge for the Stanford defense to try and contain them. Look for UCF to prevail at home to get the victory.

The over is 7-1 in the Cardinal’s last 8 games after allowing less than 100 yards rushing in their previous game, 6-1 in their last 7 games following a straight up loss and 4-1 in their last 5 games on grass. UCF has the potential to put up big point totals but their defense has been pretty sound so far. With that said, Stanford feels they have something to prove after last week’s debacle. The Cardinal gets their share of points in the loss to help push this one over the total.

Prediction: UCF Knights -7.5

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Clearly, Stanford isn’t quite the same team without Costello under center, as evidenced by the loss to USC. While Mills wasn’t bad against the Trojans, hitting 22 of 36 passes for 237 yards with a touchdown and an interception, he lacks the pedigree and resume that Costello brings to the table. If Costello can’t play again, it will once again fall to Mills to try and get things done. Speaking of quarterback shuffles, Josh Heupel announced that Darriel Mack Jr., who broke his ankle over the summer, has been medically cleared and will be available to go in this one. That adds another quarterback to the mix and makes things that much cloudier for Stanford as they have no idea who to game plan for. Can the Cardinal go on the road and find a way to bounce back from last week’s loss?

Prediction: 58.5
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Written By Chris Kubala

Christopher Kubala has been crunching stats and following sports for over 30 years. His in-depth analysis and passion for sports have led him to writing books about sports, regularly being featured on sports talk radio and as the go-to person for any obscure trivia. Now he is writing for our team here at Winners @ Whiners. Chris keeps an eye on transactions and statistics like a hawk, especially when it comes to football, both the NFL and college. He is also very knowledgeable in the NHL, the NBA, college basketball and MLB. If you want consistency, then be sure and check out Chris’ content daily.