After holding off a 13-point fourth quarter comeback from the SMU Mustangs last week, the Cincinnati Bearcats will travel to the Sunshine State in Week 9 of the college football season to face the Central Florida Knights in a battle between two of the American Athletic Conference’s top teams. Cincinnati enters undefeated in conference play and on a six-game win streak, while UCF returns home after losing its first AAC game of the season to East Carolina a week ago.
Caesars Sportsbook has this game listed as a pick ’em, with neither the Bearcats nor Knights favored, while the over/under total sits at 56 points.
Let’s take a closer look at the odds and trends:
Cincinnati Bearcats at UCF Knights
Time/TV: 3:30 p.m. ET Saturday, ESPN
Point spread (from Caesars Sportsbook): Pick ’em
Money line: Cincinnati -110, UCF -110
Analysis: Oddsmakers rarely decline to pick a favorite in college football, which means this game between Cincinnati and UCF figures to play out in a competitive fashion. The even odds for each team also present a window to return more value than usual should bettors find enough of an edge or supporting trends benefitting one side.
In the case of this contest, both schools have put up competitively conflicting statistical performances. The Bearcats’ offense ranks 45th out of 131 D-I teams in total yards per game opposite a Knights defense sitting at 46th overall in yards conceded per game. Conversely, UCF averages the sixth-most yards on a weekly basis while Cincinnati’s defense gives up the 17th-least.
However, in what projects as a razor-thin matchup, there are a few discrepancies favoring the Bearcats that ultimately could make the difference. While Cincinnati’s offense ranks middle of the pack nationally with respect to committing turnovers, UCF’s defense ties for the 11th-fewest takeaways per game. The Bearcats also own a top-50 success rate on passing plays at 44.2%, while the Knights’ defense ranks below average in successfully shutting down passing offense at 71st.
For those less certain about selecting a winner, picking the point total may inspire more confidence. UCF has hit the under in five of its six games against FBS-level competition this season, while Cincinnati has achieved an under against five of its last six conference opponents and in a whopping 44 of the previous 63 games played in the month of October — roughly 70% of all games.
The safer wager is to take the under, but those feeling bold can ride with the Bearcats to overcome the Knights’ home-field advantage in Orlando.
Prediction: Cincinnati 27, UCF 24