AAC Football Betting Preview: SMU Mustangs at UCF Knights

Knights' QB Justin Holman has thrown for over 2,000 yards this season.
Knights’ QB Justin Holman has thrown for over 2,000 yards this season.C

Time: Sat, 11 AM CST
Spread: UCF -28.5

While UCF has been unable to replicate the success of last year’s ranked team, it hasn’t been entirely disappointing in light of having lost both its QB and star running back, Blake Bortles and Storm Johnson, to the NFL.

The Knights are 6-3 with a nice 4-1 mark in AAC play and will host a woeful 0-9 SMU team this week. Odds at Bovada are showing UCF as 28.5 point favorites in college football odds.

UCF has had a very strong defense this year, which has kept the Knights in games. Holding opponents to just 19.8 points per game has made things easier for the offense, which averages a humbling 26.3 points per game. The Knights have been good in the air, but just aren’t getting enough in its backfield, with just 117 rushing yards per game.

QB Justin Holman has thrown for over 2,000 yards on the season with 16 TDs and 10 INTs. It’s a far cry from Bortles’ dominance, but the biggest disappointment has been the play of No. 1 running back William Stanback. He’s averaged just 3.6 yards per carry on 153 attempts this year, and the Knights don’t really have much behind him either, with Dontravious Wilson having similar struggles and having only scored one TD on the season.

Bershad Permian has been good at WR for the Knights, with 29 receptions for 669 yards and six TDs. The Knights top four WRs all have nearly 300 yards or more on the season, while J.J. Worton is second on the team with four reception TDs. Rannell Hall has missed the last two games, but may be back in action. Hall has three TDs on the year and is second on the team in yards per reception (17.4).

“Horrible,” covers it pretty well for the winless SMU Mustangs. The Mustangs have been bested by an average of 33.1 points per game this season, while unable to get much of anything going offensively, averaging just 10 points per game. SMU lost 14-13 to a bad South Florida team last week, and has scored two TDs or less in all but two games this season (losses to East Carolina and Tulsa).

QB Matt Davis has been the most successful (and most recent) SMU option behind center this year. He’s thrown 61.8 percent for completion and last week was 22-of-31 against the Bulls. In the week prior, he threw for 212 yards in the 38-28 loss to Tulsa.

While the Mustangs are still only averaging 20.5 points per game over the last two weeks, that is a marked improvement from the first seven games of the season and could give the Mustangs some momentum moving forward. In addition to his strong arm, Davis has also rushed for 312 yards on 59 carries with two TDs. It’s helped compensate somewhat for a poor backfield which sees no options averaging better than three yards per carry.

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