UCF at Tulsa
Time: 6 PM CST, Friday
Spread: UCF -17
Odds c/o 5dimes
The Tulsa Golden Hurricane are just 2-7 and in last place with its 0-5 conference mark in AAC play. It hosts the two-time defending Conference champions in UCF, and the Knights are heavy 17-point favorites over Tulsa in NCAA football odds Friday night. The over/under is set sky-high at 71 total points, and the game will kick off at 6 PM (CST) Friday night on ESPN2.
UCF is 7-2 this season, having suffered two losses after having its two-straight undefeated seasons coming into this year. Losses to Pittsburgh and Cincinnati have sent UCF down to earth somewhat, no longer AP ranked, no longer as feared, but still a dangerous team that should have few issues obliterating the Golden Hurricane this week. Since its loss to Cincy, the Knights have won three straight over Eastern Carolina, Temple, and Houston. None of those games were remotely close, so the Knights seem to be building momentum and motivation coming off that rare loss to the Bearcats.
Even so, UCF trails Cincy in the AAC East standings with a 7-2 conference record to Cincinnati’s 7-1. UCF closes the season with games against Tulane and USF, neither of which are big threats to UCF, so the Knights will have to pray on a Bearcats loss. UCF has a top-flight offense that ranks No. 8 nationally in passing yards and No. 16 in rushing yards. Overall, the result is crushing: UCF averages 46.3 points per game while holding its opponents to less than half of that (22.4). The Knights +22.9 point differential screams “ranked,” but its two losses and being in the AAC makes that a no-go, with AP voters.
UCF quarterback Dillion Gabriel has been sensational. He has thrown for 2,516 yards with a 60.3 percent completion ratio while having launched 23 touchdowns with just five interceptions. He has been sacked just 14 times for only 82 yards lost, and his passer rating stands at an impressive 170.3 His top receivers have been Gabriel Davis and Tre Nixon. Davis has 962 yards and 10 touchdowns, while Nixon has caught for 627 yards and seven touchdowns.
UCF has a total of 29 receiving touchdowns on the season, with 11 different players accounting for those scores. Not to be outdone, the backfield averages 5.3 yards-per-carry. Otis Anderson is averaging 6.6 with his team-high 82 attempts, and although No. 4 in attempts, Bentavious Thompson is No. 2 in yardage (462), and he leads the team in touchdowns with seven. Adrian Killins Jr. and Greg McCrae both have more attempts (60 and 72) respectively, but trail him in yardage and touchdowns (5 and 6, each).
Tulsa won games over San Jose State and Wyoming in Weeks 2 and 4, but it has lost all other contests, including all of its conference games in the AAC. Tulsa has a great passing offense that ranks No. 34 nationally but is just No. 104 in rushing yardage and the overall result is just 24.4 points per game (while surrendering 33.0). The Golden Hurricane can move the football down the field, but it fails to capitalize often on those drives.
Starting QB Zach Smith has been reasonably good, but not without his blemishes. He has thrown for 2,440 yards but just at a 54.7 percent ratio, and he has 12 TDs with six interceptions. His 33 sacks are the clear outlier though, as he has lost 209 yards and been sacked nearly five times per game on average.
The OL does a poor job of creating holes too, with the Golden Hurricane averaging just 3.1 yards-per-carry as a team and lead-rusher Shamari Brooks at just 4.1 per. Despite this, Tulsa has managed 13 rushing touchdowns on the season and still attempted 381 rushes. The top receivers have been Keylon Stokes and Sam Crawford Jr., with their 47 and 40 catches, respectively, for over 1,300 yards combined and seven of the team’s overall 12 receiving touchdowns.