UCF vs. FIU - 9/3/14 College Football Pick, Odds, and Prediction
FIU Golden Panthers (0-0) at UCF Knights (0-0)
College Football: Thursday, September 3rd, 2015 at 6:00 PM (Bright House Networks Stadium)
The Line: UCF Nights -16.5 -- Over/Under: 46.5 See the Latest Odds
The FIU Golden Panthers and UCF Knights will kick off their season at Bright House Networks Stadium this upcoming Thurday.
The FIU Golden Panthers continue to make progress under third year head coach Ron Turner as after going 1-11 in his first year at the helm, FIU finished last season with a 4-8 (3-5 Conference USA) record with 4 of those loses by 3 points or less. FIU will be returning 15 starters from last year’s team and will look to continue to improve on a strong defense that ranked 35th in total defense (363.8 ypg). The Golden Panthers defensive is what kept them in many of their games last year as they were able to force 33 turnovers (ranked 5th in FBS) and scored 6 defensive TD’s (ranked 2nd in FBS). FIU’s defensive will be led by a strong defensive line that includes DL Michael Wakefield and DL Denzell Perine. On the offensive side of the ball, FIU will be relying on sophomore Quarterback Alex McGough (2014: 50.4 Comp %, 1,680 yds, 14 TD, 10 Int) and sophomore TE Jonnu Smith (61 receptions, 710 yds, 8 TD). Alex Gardner should be getting the starts in the backfield for the FIU as the explosive sophomore had three 100 yard games prior to missing the last 4 games of the season due to a shoulder injury. FIU and Coach Turner will be once again relying on their defensive this season and if they can get enough out of their offensive, the Golden Panthers could make it over the .500 mark for the first time in Ron Turner’s tenure.
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The UCF Knights didn’t have as incredible of a season as they did in 2013 however, still finished the year with a 9-4 record (7-1 AAC) another their second straight conference title and their three straight bowl appearance. Similar to FIU, the Golden Knights strong point will be with their defensive line which will all consist of senior and led by DE Thomas Niles. With the strong D-Line, teams will likely try to expose a young secondary that although talented are quite unproven. On the offensive side of the ball, the Knights will be looking for quarterback Justin Holman (2014: 56.9 Comp %, 2952 yds, 23 TD, 14 Int) and 1st Team AAC running back William Stanback Jr. (3.7 ypg, 754 yds, 10 TD). The receivers are somewhat of a question mark coming into the season however their best signee over the offseason was Tristan Payton who will look to make an immediate impact for the Knights. UCF will still be led by head coach George O’Leary who is 22-2 in AAC play over the last two years and although it will be difficult to win another conference title as Cincinnati and Temple will be looking to dethrone the Knights, UCF is still at the head of the class when it comes to the AAC.
FIU is 4-1 ATS in their last 5 Thursday games and 4-1 ATS in their last 5 road games. The Knights are 7-0 ATS in their last 7 Thursday games and 4-1 ATS in their last 5 games overall.
Both FIU and UCF will be relying on their strong defensive lines this season and this game will really come down to whether UCF will be able to find enough offensive to over this somewhat large spread. Although I think UCF will win the game, I feel that this time will be over valued at the beginning of this season based on their success the last two seasons. FIU is certainly young at the offensive end but they do have some talent that can move the football and as I think their defensive will be able to handle what UCF will be able to throw at them, I’m going to take the FIU Golden Panthers and the points.