LSU Tigers (9-3) at UCF Knights (12-0)
|Date & Time||Tuesday January 1, 2019, 1:00 PM (EST)|
The Line: UCF Knights +7.5 -- Over/Under: 51.5
The 11th ranked LSU Tigers & 8th ranked UCF Knights will face off in the PlayStation Fiesta Bowl at State Farm Stadium on New Years Day.
The 11th ranked LSU Tigers couldn’t finish their regular season on a high note after losing a thrilling 74-72 7-OT game agianst the Texas A&M Aggies, however, still had an outstanding season as they finished their year with an overall record of 9-3 (5-3 SEC West). LSU had on of the more impressive victories of the college football season when they defeated the Georgia Bulldogs, 36-16, at home and will be looking to finish their 2018 season with a Bowl victory after suffering a 20-17 loss to the Norte Dame Fighting Irish in the Citrus Bowl.
On the season, LSU is averaging 31.8 ppg on 389.3 total yards per game (214.7 passing yds/g; 174.7 rushing yds/g). Offensively, LSU has been led by the RB duo of Nick Brossette (17.6 att/g; 76.8 yds/g; 14 TD) & Clyde Edwards-Helaire (11.3 att/g; 52.2 yds/g; 7 TD). QB Joe Burrow has completed 57.4% of his passes for 12 TD & 4 INT while averaging 208.3 passing yds/g. Burrow can also do some damage with his legs as he has 7 rushing TD’s on the season and is averaging 31.3 rushing yds/g. The top receivers for the Burrow and the Tigers have been Justin Jefferson (4.2 rec/g; 65.7 yds/g; 4 TD), Stephen Sullivan (1.7 rec/g; 23.9 yds/g; 2 TD), and Doster Moreau (1.7 rec/g; 20.8 yds/g; 2 TD).
Defensively, LSU is holding their opponents to an average of 20.9 ppg on 346.1 total yards per game (206.8 passing yds/g; 139.3 rushing yds/g). The Tigers forced 23 turnovers on the season and finished their regular season with a turnover margin of +12.
The 8th ranked UCF continued to just win football games this season and for the 2nd straight year, the Knights finished their regular season with a perfect 12-0 (8-0 AAC) record. UCF has won 25 straight games and defeated Memphis for the 2nd straight season in the AAC Championship game. This will be the 3rd consecutive year that the Knights have been in a Bowl game and they hope to similar success as they did last year when they upset the Auburn Tigers in the Peach Bowl.
On the season, UCF is averaging 44.2 ppg on 545.4 total yards per game (268.9 passing yds/g; 276.5 rushing yds/g). Offensively, UCF suffered a huge blow late in the season as they lost their best offensive player in QB McKenzie Milton to a devasting knee injury. Milton had completed 59.2% of his passes for 25 TD & 6 INT while averaging 266.3 passing yds/g. The good news for the Knights is that freshman QB Darriel Mack Jr. looked outstanding in his first career start agianst Memphis as he completed 19 of 27 passes for 348 passing yards & 2 TD while also adding 59 yards & 4 TD’s on the ground. The top receivers for UCF have been Gabriel Davis (4.5 rec/g; 68.7 yds/g; 6 TD), Dredrick Snelson (3.7 rec/g; 60.4 yds/g; 5 TD), and Tre Nixon (3.3 rec/g; 46.8 yds/g; 4 TD). Leading the way for the Knights backfield has been Greg McCrae (10.3 att/g; 91.8 yds/g; 9 TD) and Adrian Killins Jr. (12.0 att/g; 58.2 yds/g; 4 TD).
Defensively, UCF is holding their opponents to an average of 21.3 ppg on 423.6 total yards per game (196.2 passing yds/g; 227.4 rushing yds/g). The Knights have forced their opponents into committing 26 turnovers on the season and have an overall turnover margin of +14.
The Tigers are 11-5 ATS in their last 16 games on grass however, just 2-5 ATS in their last 7 Bowl games. The Knights are 4-0 ATS vs. a team with a winning record and 13-5-1 ATS in their last 19 games following an ATS win.
UCF is a great football team that has put together an incredible 25-game winning streak, however, at the same time, this year’s version of the Knights in my opinion is just not as good as what we saw last season especially without Milton behind center. LSU is a solid team who I think will be able to have their way in the running game agianst the Knights defense and as I think the LSU defense will be able to slow down the UCF offense led by an unexperienced freshman QB, I’m taking LSU to cover this spread.