Sept. 17, 2021
UCF Knights vs. Louisville Cardinals Predictions
Score Prediction - UCF 41 Louisville 27
UCF opened the season with a scintillating 36-31 comeback victory at the Bounce House against Boise State on Sept. 2. While they narrowly missed the cover as a 5.5-point favorite, the OVER came through. The OVER also hit in the second game last Saturday against FCS Bethune Cookman, also at the Bounce House. The Knights polished off the Wildcats by a 63-14 victory, covering a 45.5-point favorite.
QB Dillon Gabriel has been sharp in his two appearances, rolling up 630 passing yards with six touchdowns and two interceptions, while also running for 107 yards and a score. WR Jaylon Robinson has been the big threat downfield, going for 187 yards and a touchdown, averaging 23.4 yards per reception. WR Brandon Johnson has found the end zone twice, and he leads the team with 12 catches.
Louisville was on the short end of a 43-24 score against Ole Miss in Atlanta in a neutral-site game Monday, Sept. 6. They didn't come close to covering a 9-point number as the Under easily cashed. You can't blame them for being a little sluggish with a quick turnaround, as they beat FCS Eastern Kentucky by a 30-3 score, just missing as a 30-point favorite as the Under cashed. The defense has allowed 402.0 total yards per game, and 265.0 passing yards per game.
QB Malik Cunningham has registered 468 passing yards with two touchdowns and an interception, while also going for 108 rushing yards and four touchdowns with his feet. In fact, Cunningham is the only player in red and white with a rushing score through the first two games. That's something UCF will need to focus on. The Cards have had to replace two big wideouts, including the dynamic Tutu Atwell. WR Ahmari Huggins-Bruce has done a decent job, leading the team with 168 receiving yards and 28.0 yards per reception.
It's a big difficult to glean much from both team's Week 2 victories. Louisville was a little sluggish, but again, they had just a handful of days to recuperate after a tough game against Ole Miss. They could hang with UCF for a while in this one, and Cunningham and Gabriel could exchange big-play scores in the first half, into the second. But the Cardinals aren't as deep as the Knights, and you can expect UCF to pull away for the cover in the final 30.
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UCF Knights vs. Louisville Cardinals Betting Analysis
These teams have met twice before, with UCF taking the most recent meeting in Louisville by a 38-35 count on Oct. 18, 2013.
I like what I have seen so far from both quarterbacks, and Cunningham and Gabriel could each put on a show in this one. Oddly enough, before looking at the line/total, I predicted 41-27, and the books have the line set right at 68. I like the line much more than the total.
As long as this one stays a flat seven, or better yet, six and a half, rather than seven and a hook, I'd feel very confident betting the road side. UCF is deeper than their Power 5 opponent here, as it's Cunningham and a bunch of other inexperienced skill position players, and no real threat to run outside of the QB. Gabriel has a solid cadre of receivers, and RB Isaiah Bowser already has five rushing scores through two games with a healthy 5.1 yards per attempt. Gabriel isn't the dual threat that Cunningham is, but he can run if needed.
All of the ATS trends seem to indicate taking Louisville, but sometimes trends are made to be broken. Yes, UCF is just 2-7 ATS in the past nine as a favorite, and 1-4 ATS in the past five on the road. But they're 1-1 ATS in two games this season, they're averaging 49.5 PPG, hitting the OVER in each outing. This is a powerful offense that Louisville is going to have a very, very hard time stopping. I trust the Cardinals to score plenty of points, but I don't trust their D to be able to shut down UCF. They're going to tire as the evening goes on, and you can expect UCF to get a little separation in the final 30.
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