Boca Raton Bowl Picks: UCF vs. BYU

by | Dec 20, 2020 | cfb

Central Florida Knights (6-3 SU, 3-6 ATS) vs. Brigham Young Cougars (10-1 SU, 6-4 ATS)

When: Tuesday, December 22, 7 p.m.

Where: FAU Stadium, Boca Raton, Fla.

TV: ESPN

Point Spread: UCF +3.5/BYU -3.5 (GTBets - Deposit $100, get $100 FREE! Receive a 100% REAL CASH bonus all the way up to $500!)

Total: O/U 69.5

Outlook

It’s almost criminal that these two teams have to settle for Boca Raton, but it means we get what should be a quality matchup early in the bowl season. BYU looks like it’s the best team in the western United States in 2020, as it’s beaten everyone on its schedule except for an undefeated Coastal Carolina in a game that saw the Cougars travel to South Carolina on short notice and nearly pull out a victory.

Opposing the Cougars is a UCF squad that’s put up video game numbers all season long. Only one team has held the Knights under 30 points all season, which is why all but one UCF game has seen at least 60 points scored. But this offensive juggernaut hasn’t seen a defense like BYU’s, which has only conceded an average of 14.6 points per game and hasn’t allowed anyone to top 26 points all season. Can the Cougars shut down the Knights and cap off a fantastic season, or will the old guard of the mid-majors rise up for one last stand?

How the Public is Betting the UCF/BYU Game

The money really seems to believe in the BYU defense, as it’s dropped the total five points from the opening of 74.5. Public figures aren’t available yet, but the money has pushed the number down from -4 to -3.5 for the Cougars.

Injury Concerns

UCF:
Defensive back Antwan Collier (personal), defensive lineman Kenny Turnier (personal), linebacker Eric Mitchell (personal), defensive lineman Randy Charlton (undisclosed), and running back Otis Anderson (undisclosed) are questionable. Wide receiver Marlon Williams opted out of the bowl game.

BYU:
Wide receiver Keanu Hill (undisclosed) and defensive back Keenan Ellis (undisclosed) are questionable. Wide receiver Gunner Romney (head) and running back Tyler Allgeier (illness) are probable. Offensive lineman Keanu Saleapaga (shoulder) and defensive lineman Tyler Batty (leg) are out indefinitely.

When UCF Has the Ball

Here’s how much respect the Cougars have for the Knights’ offense: BYU’s coaches are already telling their players that they’re going to need to score a lot of points if they’re going to win this game. That’s how explosive the Knights have been all season, and it’s in large part because they play so fast that opponents barely have time to breathe before UCF is already on to its next play. When you’ve got a quarterback like Dillon Gabriel under center, you can do whatever you want on offense, and for UCF, that’s meant either finding their stable of wide receivers or letting their talented backs poke holes in the front seven.

Marlon Williams and Jaylon Robinson have done the most damage of the Knights’ weapons, as the two have combined for 1,974 receiving yards and 15 of Gabriel’s 30 touchdown passes on the year. Meanwhile, Greg McCrae and Otis Anderson average over five yards a carry, which keeps opponents from dropping eight into coverage against the UCF passing attack. Throw in that Gabriel can make plays with his legs when he has to and that he’s only thrown four interceptions on the year, and it’s easy to see why opponents have had so much trouble stopping the Knights.

This is an offense that can score from anywhere on the field, which means that no lead is safe against this team. However, with Williams not on the field for this game, the Knights might be a little less explosive and might have trouble with this BYU defense.

When BYU Has the Ball

The biggest question for the Cougars is whether they’re going to show up, after their complete no-show cost them their bowl game against Hawai’i last year. If they do show up, they’ll provide a sharp contrast with UCF, as the Cougars are more comfortable relying on a couple of key weapons and letting their defense do the rest. Tyler Allgeier is the primary back for BYU with 957 yards on the season, and he’s got the ability to change the game at any point in the contest. Given that UCF gives up 190 yards a game on the ground, he could be in line for a big game here, assuming that he plays.

So could Dax Milne, who should benefit from the likely return of Gunner Romney to the lineup. With Romney on the field, it’s going to be a lot harder for UCF to focus on Milne, who’s got 1,118 receiving yards to his name and has been tough to stop all season long. But when it comes to matchup nightmares, nobody’s been able to match up with 6’6” tight end Isaac Rex. The freshman has 32 catches on the season, but 10 of them have gone for touchdowns.

Betting Trends

UCF has been a rather lousy choice for bettors as of late, as the Knights’ reputation leads to the public tending to give them more points than they should. However, in the only game all year where the Knights were the underdog, they managed to cover — albeit only because Cincinnati decided not to score when it got the ball down to the Knights’ 1-yard-line in a game the Bearcats led by 3 with a four-point spread.

BYU has also been struggling to cover as of late, as the Cougars have failed to hit the number in three of their past five contests (and one was against FCS North Alabama, so there was no spread in that game.) That’s mainly because the public has gradually accepted the Cougars as a powerful squad this season, and BYU has faced a couple of slower-paced teams in its past two games. That’s also why both of those games went under; BYU simply didn’t have enough plays to put up points. That won’t be a problem against UCF.

Weather Report

The day will be a great one for football, with temperatures at around 63 degrees and winds blowing north-northeast at seven miles an hour.

Dan’s Pick to Cover the Spread

With Williams opting out of the game, UCF’s offense has taken a significant hit. A team that’s this offense-heavy can’t afford to lose its best receiver, especially when it’s going against the toughest defense that it’s seen all season long. Even with three weeks to prepare, this is almost certain to throw UCF off of its game and play right into BYU’s hands.

I can’t see UCF stopping this attack, nor can I see the Knights being as explosive as they were all season. Unless the motivation isn’t there for the Cougars, this should be BYU’s game, and I think BYU feels like it has something to prove after its loss to Coastal Carolina. Give me the Cougars. Bet your UCF/BYU pick LIVE while the game is going on at the online sportsbook with the BEST in-game wagering platform on the planet! —> Bovada Sportsbook!