UCF at Cincinnati

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No. 18 Central Florida at Cincinnati

Venue/Location: Nippert Stadium, Cincinnati, OH
Time/TV: Friday, Oct. 4 (ESPN, 8:00 p.m. ET)
Line: UCF -4 ½, Total 60

Recent Meetings:
2018: Central Florida (-6.5) 38 vs. Cincinnati 13, Under 60 ½
2017: Central Florida (-15) 51 at Cincinnati 23, Over 52 ½
2016: Central Florida (-10.5) 24 vs. Cincinnati 3, Under 51 ½
2015: Cincinnati 52 (-26) 52 vs. Central Florida 7, Under 61

The Conference of Champions is taking this Friday night off, as it's the AAC's turn to shine under the bright Friday night lights. The conference is hoping to showcase it's “best” team as the 18th ranked UCF Knights travel north to Cincinnati to try and knock off a 3-1 Bearcats program.

Outside of getting waxed by Ohio State, the Bearcats have looked good, winning by double-digits in all three of their wins, and really who has gone up against the Buckeyes so far in 2019 and not gotten waxed. There is a view that a loss to Pitt, as essentially double-digit road chalk, looks much worse on UCF's resume, but with how the Knights bounced back with a no-nonsense win over Connecticut last weekend, UCF knows they can't afford any more slip-ups.

Can the Bearcats play well enough to help one of those slip-ups happen, or will UCF just be on their way to potentially another long winning streak?

UCF cruised to the 56-21 win over Connecticut last weekend, as a 56-0 lead was established before the Knights called it a day and did so early enough to let Connecticut through the back door for an ATS win. But really -42 was a lofty number to cover after the program's first loss in 27 regular season games, and had UCF decided to play the full 60 minutes, the easy ATS win was there.

A thought like that has to be concerning to the rest of the AAC as league play really begins in earnest, because this UCF team just keeps pushing forward, even after dealing with their first setback in years. What that tells me is that it's going to be tough to ever catch UCF in a flat spot, or a look-ahead spot, at least pregame, the rest of the way. They can flush good and bad efforts just as quickly as one another, and while they probably got caught looking ahead to this primetime showcase in the 4th quarter last week as they watched Connecticut stroll through the back door, that happens here and it won't matter given the spread they've got to cover this week.

Hard to take anything away from Cincinnati's effort this year, although I guess you would have preferred to see a bit more fight and potential production against Ohio State. And while they are currently the only Ohio State opponent that didn't score against the Buckeyes this season, their 42-point deficit in the loss isn't the worst margin of defeat for an Ohio State opponent. Even further had they mustered a safety or FG in that game, they'd have the 2nd smallest margin of defeat by an Ohio State foe at just 39 points. That's how impressive Ohio State has been.

Not as much shame in that loss as it may appear for Cincinnati, and UCF, while good, is still not Ohio State. But the Bearcats defense got absolutely gashed on the ground that day (270 yards, 5.9 average), and UCF's attack is on the ground first. The Knights may not be Ohio State, but they recruit a similar caliber of athlete, and that does not bode well for Cincy's defense either. Sure, holding down Marshall, Miami (Ohio) and UCLA – although UCLA's offense deserves more credit after that Washington State game – to 14 or fewer points is one thing, doing that to the Knights is going to be near impossible. As a program, UCF hasn't scored fewer than 30 points in a single game since their 2016 Bowl loss to Arkansas State (31-13). That's 31 straight games of putting up 30 or more for UCF. Does this Bearcats offense have enough pop to keep up?

I'm not sure that they do, as even Pittsburgh needed a punt return TD, to win the ball control battle by 11+ minutes, and the turnover battle (2-1) to squeak out a 1-point win in the final minute. That's a lot of things going right for one team at home, and with how UCF came out of the gates last week, you know they've learned their lesson about playing sloppy ball. The focus shifted to this game for UCF in the 4th quarter of last week's win, and I don't believe they fall for the second time in three games.

A clean performance from UCF from start to finish has them winning by 10+, leaving plenty of room for error should the game not turn out so spotless for the Knights under the lights. Cincinnati's interior got whitewashed in that Ohio State game, and UCF should be capable of doing something similar. Really thought this line would be closer to a TD, but I guess that recent loss from UCF has popped their invincibility shield.

The Knights haven't lost three in a row against the number since late in the 2017 season - the one where they won the “National Championship”. Two of those three games saw them laying 39 points or more and that's what got them ATS-wise, and that's nothing we have to worry about here. Sorry Cincinnati, it will be the second primetime football loss this week for football teams in your city.

Best Bet: UCF -4 ½

Friday Best Bet YTD Record: 2-3 ATS

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