Tostitos Fiesta Bowl Picks: UCF Knights vs. Baylor Bears

Jeff Grant

Wednesday, December 18, 2013 6:58 PM GMT

The Baylor Bears are going to attract plenty of action due to their explosive offense, but the UCF Knights are dangerous underdogs when their balanced attack on that side of the football. 

Let’s take a closer look at the college football odds for the 2014 Tostitos Fiesta Bowl at University of Phoenix Stadium, with the opening kickoff scheduled for 8:30 p.m. ET on ESPN.

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A memorable season

Baylor concluded its most successful regular season in school history by compiling a school-record 11 wins, with its only loss coming against the Oklahoma State Cowboys as 7.5-point road favorites on Nov. 23.

The Bears feature the nation’s best statistical offense, as the unit averages 53.3 points per game and 624.5 yards per contest, with signal-caller Bryce Petty throwing 30 touchdowns and just two interceptions.

Over the last two-plus seasons, the program is a dominating 24-3 SU and 19-8 ATS as favorites. 

Stepping up in class 

UCF enters the bowl season with an 11-1 SU and 7-5 ATS record, which led to capturing the American Athletic Conference championship—a distinction that many felt the Louisville Cardinals would finish with at the start of the year. 

The Knights have dropped their previous five meetings against current Big 12 Conference opponents, but they did manage to pick up their first wins over a Big Ten and top-10 team earlier this year—beating Penn State and Louisville respectively. 

College football handicappers should not that the squad covered the number in all three of its tries as an underdog this year. 

Playing in Arizona 

The Bears are going to attract plenty of action in the betting market due to their high-powered offense, but they’ve never won in the state of Arizona. 

Baylor suffered a 34-13 road loss against the Arizona State Sun Devils in 1990, while it dropped a 24-0 decision to the Indiana Hoosiers in the 1991 Copper Bowl. 

Balanced attack

The Knights feature one of the more balanced offenses in college football, with quarterback Blake Bortles and running back Storm Johnson being the key players to handicap. 

UCF finished the season with 24 rushing touchdowns and 23 passing touchdowns, which was made possible by an offensive line that had only left tackle Torrian Wilson (2) miss a game this season.

[gameodds]6/252358/?r-1=43-19-349/us[/gameodds]

Prediction 

I'm going to recommend that readers back the Knights with their college football picks, as they've covered the number in their last five games versus non-conference opponents.

College Football Pick:  UCF Knights +17