UCF Knights (12-0) at Auburn Tigers (10-3)
College Football: Monday, January 1, 2018 at 12:30 pm (Mercedes-Benz Stadium)
The Line: Auburn Tigers -8 -- Over/Under: 63 Click to Get Latest Betting Odds
The 12th ranked UCF Knights will square off against the 7th ranked Auburn Tigers in the Chick-Fil-A Peach Bowl at Mercedes-Benz Stadium on Monday, January 1st.
The UCF Knights finished off their perfect, 12-0, regular season after defeating the 20th ranked Memphis State Tigers, 62-55 in 2OT, in the AAC Championship game. UCF has made an amazing turn around under head coach Scott Frost, who will be taking over the head coaching duties at Nebraska next season, as Frost help turned around a UCF team that finished 0-12 just two seasons ago. On the season, UCF is averaging 49.4 ppg on 540.4 total yards per game (339.3 passing yds/g; 201.2 rushing yds/g). Offensively, UCF has been led by QB McKenzie Milton who completed 69.2% of his passes for 35 TD and 9 INT while averaging 316.3 passing yds/g. Milton has also done some damage with his legs this season as he had 7 rushing TD’s while averaging 41.42 yds/g. The leading receivers for Milton and the Knights have been WR Tre’Quan Smith (4.5 rec/g, 90.2 yds/g, 13 TD), Dredrick Snelson (3.5 rec/g, 54.7 yds/g, 7 TD), TE Jordan Akrins (2.7 rec/g, 41.7 yds/g, 4 TD), and WR Gabriel Davis (2.1 rec/g, 29.4 yds/g, 4 TD). Leading the way for the UCF backfield has been the Adrian Killins Jr. (9.3 att/g, 63.5 yds/g, 10 TD) and Taj McGowan (5.8 att/g, 19.6 yds/g, 8 TD). Defensively, UCF is allowing their opponents to average 25.2 ppg on 428.5 total yards per game (262.8 passing yds/g; 165.7 rushing yds/g). The Knights have forced 29 turnovers on the season and have an overall turnover margin of +15.
The Auburn Tigers were one of the best teams in College Football season, and although they have to be disappointed they couldn’t make to the College Football Playoffs, the Tigers still have to be happy with their 10-3 season which included back to back wins against Georgia and Alabama. Auburn finished SEC-West play with a 7-1 conference record, however, couldn’t win the SEC Championship after being defeated by Georgia by a 28-7 margin. On the season, Auburn is averaging 34.4 ppg on 454.0 total yards per game (225.8 passing yds/g; 228.2 rushing yds/g). Offensively, the Tigers have been led by RB Kerryon Johnson who had 17 rushing TD’s while averaging 120.0 yds/g on 23.9 att/g. QB Jarrett Stidham has completed 66.7% of his passes for 17 TD and 4 INT while averaging 217.5 passing yds/g. The leading receivers for the Stidham and the Tigers have been Ryan Davis (5.8 rec/g, 59.1 yds/g, 5 TD), Darius Slayton (2.0 rec/g, 47.8 yds/g, 5 TD), and Will Hastings (1.5 rec/g, 31.4 yds/g, 3 TD). Defensively, Auburn is holding their opponents to an average of 17.3 ppg on a total of 312.3 yards per game (177.8 passing yds/g; 134.5 rushing yds/g). LB Jeff Holland has been outstanding on the defensive end for the Tigers this season as he led the team with 9 sacks. The Tigers forced 18 turnovers on the season and had an overall turnover margin of +1.
The Knights are 4-1-1 ATS in their last 6 games following a ATS win however, are just 2-5 ATS in their last 7 games vs. SEC opponents. The Tigers are 4-1 ATS in their last 5 game following a ATS loss however, are 0-4-1 ATS in their last 5 non-conference games.
This should be one of the more intriguing matchups in the all the bowl games as we will find out if the UCF offense can still have success against one of the better SEC defenses in the Tigers. UCF finished the season with the 7th ranked passing offense, however, the Tigers were successful defending the pass as they finished with the 14th ranked passing defense. UCF defense has done a great job forcing turnovers on the season, however, their 66th ranked rushing defense could have trouble against the solid Auburn offensive line and their star RB, Kerryon Johnson. I want to pick UCF as it’s amazing to see their turnaround, however, as long as Kerryon Johnson and Tigers defense is healthy, I think Auburn will be too much for the Knights and win this one by double-digits. Take Auburn to cover.