UCF Knights (1-2 SU, 1-2 ATS) vs. Houston Cougars (2-2 SU, 2-2 ATS)
College Football Week 6
Date and Time: Thursday, October 2, 7:00pm EST
Where: Houston Football Stadium – Houston, TX
by Bob, Football Handicapper, Predictem.com
Point Spread: UCF +3/HOU -3
Over/Under Total: 50
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This Thursday night, on ESPN, we have an American Conference battle when the UCF Knights travel into Houston to take on the Cougars. This will be both teams first conference game and a 1-0 start in conference in what every team longs for when trying to win a title. The line opens with the Houston Cougars as a three point home favorite. The total points open at 50 combined. Both teams come into this contest with two losses already, and anytime you lose three of your first six, that could send your season in the totally opposite direction than you wanted. I have said this time and time again, these Thursday night games are very tough to handicap. Teams play so different on prime time television than they do other times, especially teams that are not used to the national stage. This is another one of those games that I can see going either way. Taking a closer look at this contest may help us gauge who the better play is.
The Central Florida Knights enter this game with a 1-2 overall record, and a 1-2 record against the spread. They opened the season in Dublin, Ireland and nearly pulled off the week one upset over Penn State, only to see themselves lose on a last second field goal by a score of 26-24. That game made many believe that this team was going to be able to contend but the next week they found themselves on the losing side of a 38-10 beatdown, handed to them by the Missouri Tigers. The only win of their young season came against Bethune-Cookman, a team that was expecting to get beat handily to a bigger FBS team. The Knights offense is horrendous. They are ranked 117th in the nation in rushing offense, and just 93rd in passing. Through the first three games, quarterback, Justin Holman has only passed for 558 yards with four touchdowns and two interceptions. The running game, we all knew would suffer with the loss of Storm Johnson to the NFL, who now plays for the Jacksonville Jaguars right up the interstate from UCF. This season, the rushing attack is led by sophomore running back, William Stanback, who is averaging over four yards per carry and scored two touchdowns. The coaches are high on this kid, and many believe with more experience and maturity, that he can turn himself into a good running back. If the UCF Knights have any chance to go into Houston and get the win, they must establish a running game. Keeping the Houston offense off the field is the key to winning this game. UCF does not want any part of a traditional Houston shootout, no way. If they keep this game in the 20s, I believe they can win this game. Not just cover the three…win.
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The Houston Cougars come into this game at 2-2 and they seem to be improving on offense each and every week. They started the season slow, only scoring 7 points against Texas-San Antonio, but since then, their offense has began clicking better and better. Houston has yet to be able to put together back to back wins this season, but according to the lines, they should do just that this Thursday night. Houston’s offense is not what I would call dangerous, but it is good. After four games, they are averaging about 225 yards a game in the air, and 164 a game on the ground. If you look at each of those stats individually, the offense is not too impressive, but together, it is getting the Cougars over 400 yards per contest. Quarterback, John O’Korn has thrown for 846 yards and six touchdown passes in 2014, which is not bad. With that said, he has also thrown six interceptions to put him at a 1/1 TD to INT ratio…not good. The run game is what many would call “by committee” a majority of the yards have been gained by Kenneth Farrow who has totaled 271 yards and two scores. The rest of the yards can be attributed to Ryan Jackson who also has two scores and 196 yards rushing. To cover this spread, Houston will need to score points. Of course, that sounds a bit simple, but it’s true. If Houston can get the offense clicking like they did against UNLV, I can see them winning this game quite easily.
Bob’s Pick to Cover the Point Spread: This is a tough game to predict but I will do my best to get this thing right. Both teams have played a decent schedule so we cannot make that comparison for now. I am going to go with a simple just eye test pick on this game. I feel strongly that Houston is getting better and better each week, while Central Fla. is still going through some growing pains this season. I believe the prime time game, ESPN, home crowd will boost this Houston team to a fairly easy win. Look for Houston to win this game 38-17 and get their first American Conference win of the season!!!! PICK HOUSTON COUGARS -3.