Central Florida Knights (2-1 SU, 2-1 ATS) at BYU Cougars (1-2 SU, 1-2 ATS)
Friday September 23rd, 2011. 8:00PM EST, College Football Week 4
LaVell Edwards Stadium Provo, UT
By Jay Horne, College Football Handicapper, Predictem.com
Point Spread: UCF +3.5/Brigham Young University -3.5
Over/Under Total: OFF
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Friday night action heats up again this week when the BYU Cougars welcome the Central Florida Knights into LaVell Edwards Stadium. It has been a while since the Cougars captured the national spotlight for any positive news. A few years ago the Cougars were consistently a 10 win program and among the elite in college football. However, 2010 brought a disappointing 7-6 crusade and the Cougars have already got off to a rocky 1-2 start thus far in 2011. This week BYU gets the chance to play in front of nation with a chance to regain some of their national prominence when they host the visiting Central Florida Knights.
The Knights suffered a bit of a setback last week losing to Florida International 17-10 in their first loss of the season. The Knights entered their game with Florida International as respectable 7 point favorites coming off a huge win over Boston College 30-3. However, the Knights just could not get anything going last week and coughed up a couple of turnovers which capped off a disappointing performance. This week Central Florida attempts to regain some of their swagger in a big Friday night battle with BYU and get back on the winning path.
When both of these teams are playing their best, I would definitely give the edge to the Cougars. However, the problem is that BYU has been a very inconsistent football team this season. BYU just narrowly missed out on delivering an upset to Texas two weeks ago falling 17-16 and then followed that performance with a blowout loss from Utah 54-10.
One of the major problems on the offensive side of the ball is the running game or at least lack thereof. BYU has historically had a strong passing attack, but they have also been effective running the football in each of their successful seasons over the last few years. This year BYU has only managed a miserable 48 yards per game on the ground which is the 3rd worse total in college football. The Cougars inability to run the football has held the entire offense back and they are in dire needs of improvement in the running game.
Luckily for the Cougars, they still have plenty of ability to move the football through the air. QB Jake Heaps really come on strong during the latter part of 2010 and had high expectations entering 2011. So far Heaps has struggled mildly completing 57.9% passing for 722 yards 3 touchdowns and 4 picks. Perhaps some of the pressure would not be on Heaps if BYU could get some help in the running game, but he still has to play better going forward. Freshman WR Ross Apo has provided a boost in the red zone by catching 3 touchdown passes. Apo has provided a spark in the receiving game to go along with leading receiver Cody Hoffman. For BYU, they simply need more consistency starting with Heaps at the quarterback position. If Heaps can avoid the mistakes, there is little doubt that he can move the Cougars up and down the field.
On the other side of the field, the visiting Knights will be looking to improve on their current 2-1 record. The majority of the nation may think of Central Florida is just another average mid-major opponent. However, this is a team that reached 11 wins last year that was capped off by a victory over Georgia in the Liberty Bowl. Coach George O’Leary has done an outstanding job at turning Central Florida into a competitive program each and every week.
The Knights offense is not the flashiest group, but they an effective rushing force. Central Florida has averaged 223 yards per game on the ground during the first 3 games. The Knights have an option style rushing attack led by QB Jeff Godfrey. Godfrey is currently 2nd on the team in rushing with 152 yards on the ground. Running back Ronnie Weaver leads the team with 160 yards on the ground while backup Brynn Harvey has aided with 140 rushing yards. Therefore the Cougars defense must focus primarily on stopping the Knights rushing attack as that is their bread and butter.
Still, Godfrey is the clear leader on the offense as he will also try to spread the ball downfield. Thus far this season, Godfrey has completed 69% passing for 468 yards without any touchdowns or interceptions. Normally dual threat quarterbacks struggle with consistency and are well-known for giving up turnovers. However, that has not been the case with Godfrey as he has kept the Knights in optimum field position. Therefore do not expect this group to make many mistakes when the Knights have the football.
Jay’s Pick to Cover the Point Spread - BYU has not exactly proven they can stop the run which means Central Florida should move the football. However, the bigger factor here is the Central Florida defense. The Knights currently own the top ranked pass defense in America holding opponents to just 93 yards passing per game. It has already been documented that BYU cannot run the football. Therefore if Central Florida shuts down the BYU passing offense, I just do not see how BYU can win this game. Take Central Florida +3.5.
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