Central Florida vs. Southern Methodist: College Football Picks

Steven Suarez

Thursday, December 5, 2013 7:52 PM UTC

Thursday, Dec. 5, 2013 7:52 PM UTC

Win this Saturday and the Knights secure the AAC conference title. They're heavily favored on the road against SMU, but will they cover the college football betting odds?

Odds Overview

It took a while for the college football odds to get released, but they're finally out now. Nothing out of the ordinary as the Knights are favored by 10 points, while the O/U is at either 59.5 or 60 dependent on the site.

Coming in, UCF is 10-1 SU and 7-4 ATS, with SMU at 5-6 both straight up and against the spread.

UCF Knights

Life has just been peachy for the Knights in 2013. They've lost just one game (28-25 to South Carolina) and have reeled off seven consecutive wins since that setback. 

Now they're in a situation where they only need one more win to secure an outright conference championship, while a victory would also give them a legitimate chance of reaching a BCS Bowl. 

It's been a long road for UCF but the hard work has finally paid off. They've scored impressive wins over Louisville (38-35) as well as Penn State (34-31 on the road) and Houston (19-14) and have set themselves up nicely. 

Junior quarterback Blake Bortles has led the offense well, throwing 22 touchdown passes against only seven interceptions. He's also run for 148 yards and three more scores. Storm Johnson has been the primary back and has run for 978 yards and 11 touchdowns. 

The Knights have been solid on offense, but they've been even better defensively, where they rank #18 in total defense. They've been especially good against the run, allowing 120.0 rushing yards per game heading into the weekend. 

SMU Mustangs

After winning four of five, which included road triumphs over South Florida and Memphis, the Mustangs were handed a dose of reality in a 34-0 loss to Houston. 

Freshman QB Neal Burcham was awful, throwing three interceptions without leading any kind of scoring drive. Burcham was filling in for senior starter Garrett Gilbert, who's recovering from a knee injury.

The Mustangs employ a pass-heavy offense, with Gilbert having thrown for 3528 yards, while throwing three times as many touchdowns (21) as picks (7). 

An average of 351.1 passing yards per game puts Gilbert and SMU in eighth in the country in that regard. Running the ball, the Mustangs have struggled – they've been good for 95.2 rushing yards per game (#116) and Gilbert actually leads the way with six rushing scores.

Clearly we have to know whether or not Gilbert will be able to play. SMU couldn't do anything with Burcham under center and that's unlikely to change against UCF should he have to make another start.


College Football Pick

UCF's waltzed their way to an easy 42-17 win last season, as Bortles made short work of the Mustangs. He hit 10-of-15 passes for 110 yards and two touchdowns.

We don't think we'll see a blowout like that this weekend, but we do believe the Knights will win by at least a couple touchdowns, especially if Gilbert can't go, making them the best value play with our college football picks here. 

UCF has simply been much more balanced throughout the year. SMU has been able to move the ball thanks to Gilbert, but they haven't been able to stop anyone defensively. Meanwhile, the Knights pride themselves on making stands on the defensive side of the ball. 

It hasn't been an easy tenure for George O'Leary over the last 10 years, but it's all come to fruition now. For my College Football picks in this matchup, I am looking for UCF to follow through and finish their regular season with a 11-1 record, while also winning by enough to cover.

Pick: UCF Knights -10

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