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BYU Cougars vs. Central Florida Knights Point Spread Pick

Opening Line: UCF -3
Over/Under: OFF

Time: 7:30 PM EST Thursday October 9, 2014 on ESPN / WatchESPN

BYU Cougars (4-1) vs. Central Florida Knights (2-2)

To say that BYU first loss of the season in their last game was a big would be a major understatement. They not only lost and fell out of the top 25, but also lost QB Taysom Hill for the season with a leg injury. Hill was in the Heisman race talk and led the Cougars in passing yards per game and rushing yards per game.

BYU’s loss likely cost them a chance at a BCS playoff berth, as they are an independent and they do not face one team all season that is currently ranked.

After losing their first 2 games of the season to solid teams UCF has won 2 straight. They are the 3-point home favorite in this Thursday night game and they must win this game with their defense. The Knights’ offense does not rank in the top 105 in the nation in passing or rushing yards per game.

In their last games UCF beat Houston 17-12 and BYU lost to Utah State 35-20.

BYU is 2-3 ATS and they have an Over/Under record of 3-2 and UCF is 2-2 ATS and they have an Over/Under record of 1-3.

This season UCF is 1-1 at home and BYU is 2-0 on the road.

The Knights have won 2 in a row, but those wins came against a weak Bethune-Cookman team and then a Houston team that is 2-3 on the season.

With Hill out Christian Stewart will get the start at QB and he has to play better than he did in the Utah State loss where he was picked off 3 times and did not throw for a TD. He has a decent WR corps led by Jordan Leslie (23 rec 362 yards 2 TD 15.7 yards per catch) and will face a UCF pass defense that ranks 57th in the nation.

The loss of Hill really hurts the run game, which is the strength of the BYU offense. RB Jamaal Williams has to step up and shoulder the load and in the loss to Utah State he did rush for over 100 yards. UCF has played solid run defense, where they rank 16th in the nation, in 3 of their 4 games and if they can keep Williams in check they have a great chance at their 3rd straight win.

Overall the BYU defense ranks 48th in the nation and their 109th ranked pass defense was shredded in the loss to Utah State, who had 321 passing yards in the game. UCF QB Justin Holman has not put up big numbers in the last 2 games and his WR corps is not a good one. William Stanback is the leading rusher for the Knights and he only has 181 rushing yards and struggled in the win over Houston. With the lack of offensive firepower the Knights have they will have to win a low-scoring defensive battle.

Betting Trends

BYU is 2-5 ATS in their last 7 road games. 2-7-1 ATS in their last 10 games overall, and they have an Under record of 5-1 in their last 6 road games.

UCF is 7-3 ATS in their last 10 home games, 7-2 ATS vs. a team with a winning record, and they have an Under record of 4-1 in their last 5 home games.

Free Against the Point Spread Pick

The BYU Cougars were eating bettors’ cash before losing in Week 6 to the Utah State on Friday. The straight up loss was their first on the season but third consecutive point spread loss. They now will go without Taysom Hill who broke his leg in the Utah State game and will have to rely on Senior but inexperienced Christian Stewart who was horrendous last week when forced into action going 10 for 29 with 3 interceptions. I expect him to be better after some practice time with the first team offense, but keep in mind this is a short turnaround game for the Cougars who will have 6 days between games. The whole team may step it up for this game, but I feel the drop down in talent at the quarterback position will be too much for them to overcome. Central Florida won the turnover battle against Houston last Thursday and held on for a 17-12 road win. That was the second win of the season for the Knights who won 41-7 over Bethune Cookman in Week 4. They did drop their first two of the season against Mizzou and Penn State but held their own against the Nittany Lions losing only by 2 and stayed with the Tigers for the first half out-yarding them 160-114 but trailing 14-10. I would feel a lot more comfortable laying just 3 here, but I’ll bite at 3.5 for a small position.

Take the Central Florida Knights -3.5

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