Conference-USA Football Picks: UCF Knights vs. SMU Mustangs, Saturday Preview

UCF Knights at SMU Mustangs
Saturday, 10/15/11, 3:30 PM EST, TV:  N/A
Opening Point Spread:  SMU -1
Current Betting Line:  SMU -3.5
Opening Total:  44.5
Current Total:  46.5
Odds Courtesy of Bookmaker

The UCF Knights are underdogs despite winning all three previous meetings in this series

Central Florida is ready for a rematch of last year’s Conference-USA Championship Game, especially considering the program has won all three previous meetings in this series.  The Knights came away with a 17-7 win in that particular contest and remains one of the top defensive teams in the country, ranking second among all teams nationally in total defense and scoring defense.  “We’re trying to be the best defense out there.  From the moment since I first stepped on campus,” commented Knights corner back Josh Robinson.  UCF is 21-9 ATS over the last two-plus seasons.

The Knights have jumped out to early leads this season, outscoring opponents by a 41-6 margin in the first quarter.  It’s important to note that UCF was out-gained in total yards in the previous two meetings between these teams, but held SMU to under 100 rushing yards in each.  The Knights lead the overall turnover battle in this series with a plus-seven margin.  The program has won seven consecutive games against teams from the C-USA West Division.  A key to this game will be a rush defense that ranks eighth in the nation in allowing just 77.4 yards per game.

SMU is riding a four-game winning streak that includes a 40-33 win over the TCU Horned Frogs as 13-point road underdogs two weeks ago.  The Mustangs have battled back this year after a 46-14 season-opening loss to the Texas A&M Aggies.  Offensively, the team ranks third in the conference in averaging 32.8 points per game.  Quarterback J.J. McDermott is 4-0 since taking over as a starter in the second game of the season.  SMU is 1-6 ATS as a favorite of 3.5 to 10 points.

The Mustangs aren’t just a passing team anymore, as junior running back Zach Line leads the conference in both scoring and rushing.  He has ran for 100-plus yards in four of five games this season, currently totaling 2,226 yards in his career.  On the outside, wide receiver Darius Johnson is a standout player, leading C-USA with a 110-yard per game average.

Bettors will likely back the Knights due to their 7-0 ATS mark as an underdog of 3.5 to 10 points, while the Mustangs are 0-6 ATS when favored in that range.


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