Central Florida Betting Odds Preview
The Knights are coming off the best season in program history, after winning 12 games, a conference championship and a big-time bowl game. There was never any doubt George O'Leary could coach; he's now led this program to three ten-win seasons in the last four. And last year UCF was the second-best team in the state of Florida. A match with Florida State might have been interesting.
This year the Knights have to replace their pro-bound starting quarterback and last year's leading rusher, but led by maybe the best defense in the conference they might still have a shot at 10 victories and another AAC title.
Last year Central Florida started 3-0, with an upset victory at Penn State. The Knights then suffered what would turn out to be their only loss of the season, a tough 28-25 decision to South Carolina. Wins over, among others, Louisville (after trailing 28-7) and Houston, followed, as UCF rolled to the first AAC title. The Knights then pulled off one of the big upsets of the bowl season, beating Baylor outright as 16-point dogs in the Fiesta Bowl.
So Central Florida finished 12-1 SU, 8-5 ATS, and 4-0 ATS as underdogs.
This year the Knights return 15 starters, three more than last year. Six starters are back on offense, although they'll have to replace QB Blake Bortles, thousand-yard rusher Storm Johnson and three along the offensive line. But nine starters return on a defense that held foes to 21 points per game last year, including all four in what should be one of the best secondaries around.
UCF opens this season in interesting fashion, traveling to Dublin to give Penn State a rematch. The Knights then return to the States to play at defending SEC East champ Missouri. They also have to play conference road games at two of the AAC's better outfits, Houston and East Carolina (both on Thursday nights), and they host BYU. But they miss Cincinnati.
Central Florida won a bunch of close games last year, and that's a trend that often evens out over the course of another season or two. Don't be surprised if the Knights, as they try to fill those key holes on offense, lose a few close ones this season. But if they can beat the Cougars on Oct. 2 they'll have a shot at repeating as conference champs.
AAC Championship Odds at Bovada as of August 15
Central Florida 7/4
East Carolina 7/1
South Florida 50/1
UCF makes the transition to the newly formed American Athletic Conference from Conference USA where it won the East Division last season with a straight-up record of 7-1. The Knights lost to Tulsa 33-27 in overtime in the conference title game as 3-point road underdogs, but were able to close out the season with a 38-17 romp over Ball State in the Beef ‘O’ Brady’s Bowl as 7-point favorites to finish 10-4 SU overall.
Odds to Win AAC: 15/2 at Bovada
Regular Season Win Total: 8 at Bovada
The Knights will stage a soft opening to the 2013 season with a home game against Akron and a road game against Florida International, but we will get a good feeling as to just how good this team will be this year with Penn State and South Carolina next on the slate. Back at quarterback is Blake Bortles and his favorite receiver Rannell Hall. Bortles threw for 3,059 yards last season with 720 of them going to Hall.
Head coach George O’Leary will look to Storm Johnson to lead the rushing attack after gaining 507 yards in a backup role last year. UCF ended the 2012 season ranked 27th in the nation in points allowed (22.1). Defensive tackle EJ Dunston, linebacker Terrance Plummer, and cornerback Brandon Alexander are all back, but this year’s unit will have a number of new faces sprinkled throughout the lineup.
The Knights finished last season with a 7-7 record against the spread with a 4-3 ATS record at home, but they were a great team to ride on the total line with 10 of their 14 games going OVER the total. They went 2-3 ATS in their final five games with the total going OVER in three of those contests
AAC Championship Odds at Bovada as of August 8
South Florida 33/1