College Football Week 3 Showdown: UCF Knights vs. Penn State Nittany Lions
Odds courtesy of Bovada
UCF started the season strong against two weak opponents in Akron (an annual replay for UCF fans) and Florida International, but now the Knights face their first legit test in the 5-point favorite Penn State Nittany Lions.
UCF shut out Florida Int’l last week while amassing 38 points, and soundly dispatched Akron 38-7, and the team has utilized a varied attack that has the pass and run both producing rather well. UCF has averaged 272 yards via the pass (42nd in the nation) and 161 via the run (70th). Blake Bortles is building on an impressive 2012 campaign and has begun the season with a 69.8 percent completion ratio, 528 yards and a 203.6 QB rating.
Maintaining that high level of accuracy against PSU is unlikely, but Bortles has a multitude of receiving options (five with at least 4 receptions on the year) and a strong running back in Storm Johnson. Johnson has been a workhorse, averaging 19 carries per game and 94 yards per contest. With Bortles airing it out and Johnson providing a lot of good short yardage, the Knights are a tough team to contest offensively.
Penn State opened the season with a big 23-17 victory over the Syracuse Orange and then proceeded to romp Eastern Michigan 45-7 in week two. This week’s matchup against the UCF Knights may yield the most competitive result for the team so far. In week one against Syracuse, the PSU defense gave up 260 total yards and held the Orange to 71 rushing yards, but UCF may be a tougher offense than the Orange.
The game should be replete with scoring, and college football oddsmakers set the total high at 50. Christian Hackenburg of PSU will be one reason why, as the QB has thrown for 589 yards with a 70 percent completion ratio. Three backs have over 100 rushing yards. Penn State may begin to lose their foothold on top tier recruits as sanctions kick in, but this Nittany Lions team still has a lot of talent. Zach Zwinak has been a workhorse (15.5 carries per game), while Bill Belton and Akeel Lynch have struck hard with average carries of 8-plus yards.
This game features two potent offenses with middling defenses. It’s a good tune up game for both schools as they encounter tougher tests ahead. PSU is favored likely due to their great running back corp, which figures to be a difference maker since UCF relies so heavily on Johnson.