The UCF Knights head to Kentucky to clash with the Louisville Cardinals in an inter-conference battle on Friday night. The Knights are 2-0 after victories against Boise State and Bethune-Cookman. The Cardinals rebounded from a week one defeat with a home win against Eastern Kentucky last week. These foes last met in 2013 in a game UCF won 38-35.
Knights Target Third Straight Win
The UCF Knights are targeting a third consecutive victory. First, they topped a good Boise State team to tip off the season and were mammoth 45 point favorites in last week’s convincing 63-14 win over non-FBS opponent Bethune Cookman. UCF has a dominant offense while the defense can be an issue.
Star QB Dillon Gabriel is one of the top quarterbacks in the FBS. The junior QB registered over 300 yards against a good defensive Boise State team, followed by 312 yards last week. Gabriel is sporting a 6:2 TD to INT ratio through two games. He will be among the top passing leaders in the country this season.
The Knights can get the job done on the ground as well. Watch for Isaiah Bowser. The senior RB transferred from Northwestern and was able to rush for a remarkable 173 yards in the season opener. UCF features one of the best WR’s in the AAC in Jaylen Robinson. The junior accrued close to 1000 yards last year and is well on his way to 1000 yards after 187 yards through the first two clashes. UCF has an experienced offense and will be one of the highest-scoring teams in the FBS this year.
The Knights' defense isn’t as threatening as the offense. While last week’s victory wasn’t a real challenge they struggled to defend the pass against Boise State while the rush defense has been stellar through two games.
UCF ranked fifth in the FBS with 44.3 points last year and has accumulated a ridiculous 99 points in two games. They allowed an average of 31 points in 2020, and have allowed 38 points this season.
Cardinals Rebound from Season-Opening Loss with Easy Win
The Louisville Cardinals had a disastrous season opener. They were demolished 43-24 by Ole Miss of the SEC and countered with a 30-3 home win against Eastern Kentucky in a game that had the Cardinals favored by 30 points. Louisville is an unproven team that will have trouble winning games in ACC Play.
The Cardinals have an experienced QB in Malik Cunningham. The junior had a mediocre at best 2020 season, recording a 20:12 TD to INT ratio. He has been decent this season, registering 468 yards with two touchdowns but was subpar against Ole Miss. Jalen Mitchell has received the most carries on the ground through two bouts, amassing 139 yards. They also return Hassan Hall who has averaged 4.4 yards per carry in his three college seasons.
Louisville is thin at the WR position. Freshman Ahmari Huggins-Bruce leads the way with 169 yards. The Cardinals' offense hasn’t been very convincing in two games. They managed just 355 total yards against Ole Miss.
The Louisville defense was their top strength last season. They ranked 19th against the pass in 2020 and rebounded with a solid performance last week after struggling against a potent Ole Miss passing game in the season opener.
The Cardinals averaged 29.5 points in 2020 and have 54 points in two games this year. They conceded an average of 26.6 points last season and have allowed an average of 23 points in two games.
The UCF Knights are:
- 39-16 in their last 55 games after allowing less than 20 points in their previous game.
- 42-20 in their last 62 games after conceding less than 100 rushing yards in their previous game.
The Louisville Cardinals are:
- 1-5 ATS in their last 6 games against the ACC.
- 0-3-1 ATS in their last 4 September games.
- 0-4 in their last 4 games following a straight-up win.
Best Bets for this Game
Full-Game Side Bet
The Knights are going to be one of the highest-scoring teams in the entire FBS this season and they should pile on the points in this matchup. Louisville surrendered 43 points and 381 passing yards to Ole Miss QB Matt Corral in week one and I view UCF QB Dillon Gabriel as a similar talent to Corral. Gabriel has eclipsed 300 passing yards in both games and will thrive against a Louisville defense that ranks 102nd against the pass.
Furthermore, Cardinals QB Malik Cunningham only recorded 191 passing yards in week one against Ole Miss, so I am not concerned with the UCF pass defense. Louisville just doesn’t have the offense to keep up with the high-scoring UCF Knights. This spread is more than reasonable in UCF's favor considering the Cardinals lost by 19 points against Ole Miss in week one.
Full-Game Total Pick
This total of 68 points is one of the highest on the board this week. While the Knights' offense is dangerous, Louisville’s offense is mediocre. They have opted for the run more than pass so far this season and running will take more time off the clock. UCF held a good Boise State team to only 283 yards in their opener. The under is 5-1 in the Cardinals’ last six games following an ATS Loss.
In addition, the Cardinals defense will be exploited however UCF will probably need to score 41-45 points for this over to hit. This is still an ACC defense that is accustomed to potent offensive teams similar to the Knights. The under is 4-1 in the Knights’ last five games after scoring more than 40 points in their previous game.
Full-Game Prop Bet
The over on the UCF team total should deliver. The Knights have the best offense in their AAC and Dillion Gabriel should be able to collect over 300 passing yards. The Cardinals squandered a remarkable 569 total yards against Ole Miss and don’t be surprised to see the Knights eclipse that number as well.
Half-Time Total Bet
I am opting for the over on the first half total. The Knights have averaged 24.5 points in the opening half in their two games this season. This Louisville team surrendered 26 points in the opening half against Ole Miss in the season opener. Also, UCF has allowed a total of 31 points in the first half in their two games.