Why Memphis Will Cover In Tight Affair vs UCF

Memphis Tigers

Rainman M.

Tuesday, September 26, 2017 1:04 PM UTC

Tuesday, Sep. 26, 2017 1:04 PM UTC

The Memphis Tigers and UCF Golden Knights play their first conference game on Saturday night in Orlando. This game was postponed from Week 2 due to Hurricane Irma. At most sportsbooks, UCF is favored by 3.5 points.  The game total opened at 70, but has been bet up to 71.

Memphis Tigers vs UCF Knights

In their Week 1 opener, Memphis dominated the first 3 quarters against Louisiana Monroe despite having to endure disgusting weather conditions in the form of heavy rain and wind that grounded their otherwise dangerous passing attack. Even though quarterback Riley Ferguson was unable to be productive, Memphis showed how prolific its rush attack can be. Both Darrell Henderson and Patrick Taylor Jr. ran for over 100 yards in Week 1 and, rain or shine, can do so again. Taylor is a bruising back who averaged 5.9 yards per carry last season. Henderson has amazing speed and, like Taylor, is capable of making big plays. Both backs are actually reserves on the depth chart behind Doroland Dorceus.

Riley Ferguson is your prototypical pocket passer who is most known for breaking Paxton Lynch's single-season passing touchdown record (32) at Tennessee. He is tall, has good pocket presence, and can make big throws under pressure. Unlike Lynch, he is able to push the ball down the field. Weather permitting, Ferguson will be launching deep balls especially to his favorite target, Anthony Miller, who set several school records last year, including receiving yards, (1,434) which had been formerly held by future Hall of Fame legend Isaac Bruce.

If Ferguson is his usual self, UCF's pass defense will get its first true test of the season. They dealt with FIU's scrub and Maryland's backup at quarterback, but UCF's secondary still has many questions to answer. They lost all four starters from last year's secondary. They will hope for a lot of help from Alabama transfer Shawn Burgess-Becker.

The match-up to watch for will be Memphis' rush attack versus UCF's rush defense. Memphis' running backs weren't tested much by ULM. But UCF's defensive line possesses a lot of talent and depth which to rotate players so that they stay fresh. They have a number of players who succeeded last year under first-year defensive coordinator Erik Chinander's 3-4 system and these players will build off of that success.

UCF's offense looked great in its second year under Scott Frost's "UCFast" system. Sophomore McKenzie Milton is a rising superstar. He doesn't have a live arm or deep-passing ability like his counterpart Ferguson, but neither does Mariota. Milton draws a lot of comparisons to the Titans' superstar because of his dual-threat, big-play ability, which helps him wrack up big numbers in UCF's fast-tempo offense. Milton can beat a defense with his legs and with his arm. He torched FIU, going 16/21 360 yards 4 touchdowns and 1 interception, and ran for 94 yards against Maryland.

Milton already displayed great chemistry with number 1 receiver Tre'Quan Smith, who caught two touchdowns in Week 1. UCF has a talented running back in Adrian Killins. He was a reserve player last season, but he used his speed and athleticism to average 6.5 yards per carry. UCF's running backs have failed to be productive even against FIU and Maryland's bottom-ranked rush defense.

Part of UCF's problem with its rushing attack stems from the subpar quality of its offensive line. Both Killins and the line do have a chance to perform better, though, against a Memphis defense whose line was rather anemic last year, in terms of sacks and tackles for a loss achieved.

O'Bryan Goodson is a true freshman on Memphis' defensive line who achieved two tackles for loss and a sack in his college debut in Week 1. But Memphis will still need a lot of help on defense. The sophomore Killins is explosive and enjoys big-play potential against just about any defense. The secondary has to replace 6 of their 8 defensive backs from last season and will struggle to stop Milton.


The Verdict

I think that the spread is this high because a lot of bettors are deceived by the close final score in last week's Memphis game and the blowout in the UCF game. Memphis was already looking ahead to the showdown with UCF. Ferguson will be licking his chops to take on a secondary that is missing so many pieces from last year. Even if the weather is bad, Memphis features a prolific rushing attack consisting of three solid players, two speedy and electric athletes and another bruiser who is tough to bring down, who already showed the ability to carry their team. UCF's running backs have yet to get going. McKenzie Milton has his match in Riley Ferguson and Tre'Quan Smith has his match in Anthony Miller. Both teams have a lot of questions on defense. Even though UCF has an edge in its defensive line, Memphis also has a much superior offensive line. Ultimately, there is not much separating these two teams on our NCAAF Picks.

Free NCAAF Pick: Memphis +4

Best Line Offered: at BetOnline

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