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Posted at 11:00 AM EST.
PlayStation Fiesta Bowl
Tuesday, January 1st, 2018 – State Farm Stadium – Glendale, AZ
1:00 PM EST. The Golden Knights have seen about as much press, media, and fanfare over the last two years as pretty much any college football team in all of America. UCF comes into the Fiesta Bowl on the heels of yet another undefeated season, as they managed to erase a 17-point halftime deficit with a backup quarterback in the American Athletic Conference Championship to punch their ticket to their second consecutive trip to a New Year’s Six Bowl Game. Last year, the self-proclaimed National Champions came into the Peach Bowl against a beleaguered Auburn team and came in with an impressive win to finish their 2018 campaign. Despite losing the architect of their run to prominence, UCF has remained unscathed to sustain the longest winning streak of any team in the FBS. Even when all hope seemed lost when their chief offensive weapon, quarterback MacKenzie Milton went down against USF, this team continued to find ways to back up all the trash talk they have been letting loose since New Year’s Day of 2018. UCF is down to backup quarterback Darriel Mack Jr., but he is 6-foot-3, 230 pounds and accounted for six touchdowns in the AAC title game against Memphis -- and now he has the extra bowl practices to get more up to speed.
Unfortunately for UCF, 2019 could start off on the wrong foot for the team who was overlooked by the College Football Playoff Committee. Over the past five years, the Group of Five teams are not only 4-1 ATS in New Years' Day Six bowl games, but also have four outright upsets. UCF beat Baylor in the Fiesta Bowl in 2013 and Auburn in the Peach Bowl last year, both as double-digit dogs. If UCF pulls the upset again here, the playoff committee would have to consider them for a spot in the College Football Playoff next year if they go unbeaten again. The SEC heard enough about UCF and their win over Auburn last year, and the conference is pinning its hopes on LSU to quiet the noise.
Though UCF has made several gripes about the committee’s stance toward them, this affair will be a true litmus test of how good this team truly is, as they are playing the best team they have faced all year in the Bayou Bengals of Louisiana State University. The last time we saw the Tigers on a football field, they were on the losing end of a bitter, seven-overtime defeat that resembled a basketball game with a 74-72 final tally in College Station against the Aggies of Texas A&M. The plight of UCF’s credibility is their lack of strength of schedule. LSU on the other hand has played some premium competition that comprises the top-team in America, Alabama,. They took on the explosive offense of Ole Miss and won 45-16, beat Georgia by 20, led the Miami Hurricanes 33-3 and beat Mississippi State by 16 points and a road win against a top-10 ranked Auburn to name a few of LSU’s accolades this season.
UCF is not some under the radar program anymore. This market is fully aware of what UCF did last year on a big stage and what they have done this season and the oddsmakers are fully aware too. Yet here we are on one of the most wagered college days of the year and the oddsmakers have hung that familiar hook or half point on the key number of 7. Sure, the offense is still legit but this isn’t Memphis and this defense is a shell of what it was under Scott Frost and Erik Chinander. Josh Heupel is an offensive mind who inherited some really sporty offensive talent. To his credit, he didn't wreck the race car when handed the keys, but his Knights are not the complete team the 2017 edition and their run very likely comes to an explosive end here.
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LSU -7½ -110 (Risking 2.20 units - To Win: 2.00)