SMU vs. UCF Wednesday CFB Predictions
Southern Methodist Mustangs (2-2 SU, 1-3 ATS) vs. Central Florida Knights (3-1 SU, 2-2 ATS)
When: Wednesday, October 5, 7 p.m.
Where: FBC Mortgage Stadium, Orlando, Fla.
Point Spread: SMU +3.5/UCF -3.5 (Betnow – 100% real cash bonus up to $500 when you use bonus code PREDICTEM)
Total: O/U 64.5
With Hurricane Ian’s winds and rain finally in the rearview mirror for Florida, Central Florida can get back to the business of football. The Knights didn’t have time to make a contingency plan because the storm turned at the last minute for Orlando, leaving UCF with no backup plan and no available stadiums to play SMU on Saturday. With that being the case, the Knights’ only option was to cancel the game and play on Wednesday, creating a rare betting opportunity for weeknight college football that doesn’t involve the MAC.
The good news is that both teams had a bye on the schedule the next week already, so moving the game won’t mess up either team’s long-term situation. The bad news is that both teams already find themselves in a tight spot as far as the American’s schedule is concerned. With Memphis and Cincinnati already out to a strong start and Tulane, perhaps the most multiphrenic team in the country, neither the Mustangs nor the Knights can afford to start out with a loss if they hope to stay in the race for a conference championship. The American projects as one of the most balanced leagues in the country in which anyone can beat anyone, making every game critical. There’s really no place for any rust in this matchup, which means both teams will have to shake off having to step away from the field for several days.
How the Public is Betting the SMU/UCF Game
The public still isn’t totally sure how to approach this game. With UCF and SMU both thrown off by the hurricane, it’s leaning toward UCF with 61% of tickets but not enough to move the line. The total has ticked down from 65 to 64.5
SMU reports no injuries.
Wide receiver Amari Johnson (leg) is questionable. Tight end Jordan Davis (undisclosed) is out.
When SMU Has the Ball
When SMU doesn’t shoot itself in the foot on offense, it is a very scary team. The problem is that the Mustangs do exactly that far too often, as they have kicked away wins over Maryland and TCU with turnovers at the worst possible time. Against Maryland, the Mustangs had a fourth-quarter lead, but three turnovers and two fourth-down failures caught up with them, and the Terrapins escaped with a seven-point win. Against TCU, the Mustangs had two drives end in interceptions, and both times, the Frogs scored on the following possession.
And that’s what makes betting on the Ponies so infuriating: this is a good team with multiple flaws that allows its worst traits to shine through at the least opportune time. Tanner Mordecai has already thrown for 1,385 yards and 12 touchdowns in four games, but he also has five interceptions, and the Mustangs have simply failed to cash in on their drives as a result. This team can score from anywhere and is actually decent at running the ball, so points usually aren’t hard to come by when SMU plays. But unless you’re playing the over, the big question is always who exactly is going to get those points.
When UCF Has the Ball
This is not your older brother’s UCF. These Knights actually do play some defense, and their passing attack is not all that effective. The Knights have run the ball just fine with John Rhys Plumlee at quarterback, but he’s still not that comfortable actually passing. Against Georgia Tech, not a strong defensive team, Plumlee threw for all of 49 yards. When the Knights have gone up against a team on their level, as opposed to overmatched South Carolina State and Florida Atlantic, they have had a hard time scoring.
The good news for UCF is that defense seems to be a four-letter word in Dallas, as SMU ranks 105th against the run. Plumlee is likely to have plenty of options to either hand the ball off or take off and go with it himself, and there’s little to suggest the Mustangs can stop them. When the Knights do pass, Alec Holler and Javon Baker have put up solid catching numbers, but the pass is definitely plan B at best for this UCF squad.
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These teams used to play every season in Conference USA, but in the American, SMU was in the West with UCF in the East, so meetings have been sparing over the years between these teams. Divisions are gone now, and this marks the second meeting between them since 2018. This has been an easy series to bet over the years: take the home team on the spread and forget it.
However, that’s also because the past two meetings were in UCF’s heyday, with one coming during the national championship season. What tended to happen when the Knights were head and shoulders above the Mustangs was that SMU would play UCF tough in Dallas while getting way too many points but get drilled when it went to Orlando. SMU hasn’t been a good road team, covering in just one of six games away from Dallas. However, UCF has been a disaster against American opponents, failing to cover in 18 of its past 24 league games. There’s also the fact that the Knights are one of the worst at preparing for extra time: they have failed to cover five straight off a bye.
The storm is out of the way, and there’s not going to be much in the way of remnants either. It’s supposed to be a clear, cool night of 61 degrees, with the wind blowing at five miles per hour to the northeast.
Dan’s Pick to Cover the Spread
Do you take the flawed but explosive team, or do you take the team that shouldn’t beat itself but can’t move the ball? This is a tough one, as UCF has the better record but also hasn’t beaten anyone worth anything this year. The Knights’ best win is over a team that fired their coach, and they lost to a team that occupies the ACC Atlantic basement.
SMU has two losses as well, but they’re to a team that embarrassed Oklahoma and one whose only loss was a respectable road defeat at Michigan. I’ll take the Mustangs and the points here. Bet your Week 6 NCAA football predictions for FREE by taking advantage of a 100% real cash bonus up to $300 when you use bonus code PREDICT100 at MyBookie Sportsbook!