College Football Friday Night Preview: UCF Knights at BYU Cougars

UCF Knights at BYU Cougars
Friday, 9/23/11, 8:00 PM EST, TV:  ESPN
Opening Point Spread:  BYU -3.5
Current Betting Line:  BYU -2
Opening Total:  43.5
Current Total:  44
Odds Courtesy of Bookmaker

UCF Knights are 13-3 ATS in their last 16 road games

UCF comes into this contest off a disappointing 17-10 loss to Florida International as 6.5-point road favorites despite winning the statistical battle by 62 yards.  The Knights had won 10 consecutive games before the defeat and plenty of blame went around from head coach George O’Leary.  “A lot of it’s on Jeff,” O’Leary commented after the game.  “I think Jeff held the ball a little bit too long at times.”  The offensive line was also responsible in allowing six sacks.  It’s definitely a focal point in practice this week on a short week.  UCF is 7-2 ATS in September and 9-1 ATS when playing a team with a losing record.

The Knights will be meeting the Cougars for the first time in school history and are also 6-4 all-time on Fridays, including a 2-0 mark last year.  UCF leads Conference USA in all five major defensive categories, while also ranking first in the league in allowing just 30 first downs and holding opponents to a 22.5 percent rate on third down.  The team may be able to protect quarterback Jeff Godfrey better this week, as BYU hasn’t registered a sack all year.  UCF has produced 102 points hits year while allowing only 20 for a point-differential of plus-82.  That ranks first in Conference USA by a 40-point margin.

BYU got manhandled in terms of scoring in dropping a 54-10 contest versus rival Utah as four-point home favorites, but was out-gained by just 127 yards.  The Cougars are 1-2 for the fifth time in seven years and have plenty of challenges ahead.  “With as poorly as we played, the gap to get closed, and the timeliness to close it,” Cougars head coach Bronco Mendenhall stated.  “That’s going to be a real challenge.”  The program is also 1-4 against Florida schools and will be looking to avoid back-to-back home losses for the first time since 2004.  BYU is 15-14 ATS over the last two-plus seasons.

The Cougars have an overall record of 7-4 on Friday games dating back to the 2000 campaign, but will need to limit their miscues if they want to bounce back against a solid opponent.  BYU committed seven turnovers, including six fumbles and one interception.  Quarterback Jake Heaps completed 27 of 50 passes for 305 yards, as his main target was wide receiver Cody Hoffman, who finished with 138 receiving yards on eight catches.  The team’s offense is still one of the worst in the country, scoring just three offensive touchdowns this year.  The Cougars have failed to score a combined total of 50 points in their first three games for only the second time in the last 35 years.

Bettors will likely back the Knights due to their 13-3 ATS mark in road games, while the Cougars are 0-4 ATS on Fridays.

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