UCF Knights vs. Houston Cougars – College Football, October 31, 2020
“Get your popcorn ready” is a phrase that has been recycled by many sportswriters. I’ve certainly used it a time or two myself. However, even a massive 170 oz. tub of fully-popped kernels won’t be enough to get you through this AAC tussle.
If you like watching a couple of high-powered offenses slug it out back-and-forth, this is a game you won’t want to miss.
Here’s a UCF vs. Houston prediction to help spice up the action.
UCF vs. Houston Odds
This line is bouncing around between 2.5 and 3 points, depending on where you bet on sports online. What’s most glaring about the odds in this game is the colossal 82.5-point total.
Vegas opened this game with 76.5 points on the board, so you can vividly see which side of that wager the public has been betting on.
Keep in mind that the Cougars are playing just their fourth game of the year after beginning the season with a chaotic series of postponements.
Before we get to a UCF vs. Houston pick, let’s take a peek at each team individually.
Assessing the Knights
That 82.5-point total might not seem so crazy once you study the tear that UCF QB Dillon Gabriel has been on.
Dillon Gabriel is the 3rd player in the last 15 seasons with 400 Pass yards, 5 Pass TD and 0 interceptions in consecutive games.— ESPN Stats & Info (@ESPNStatsInfo) October 24, 2020
He joins future NFL No. 1 picks, Jared Goff (2015) and Joe Burrow (2019). Burrow did this in the College Football Playoff. pic.twitter.com/w4HzVmGjyv
One of my 2020 Heisman Trophy sleepers before the season began leads the nation with an unthinkable 2,178 passing yards. We’re talking about 435.6 passing yards per game and 19 passing TDS (20 total) in just five outings.
Senior Marlon Williams has already hauled in 54 passes for 753 yards and 6 touchdowns, and again, this is in just five games. Jaylon Robinson has also been dynamite (32-602-4), which is why it’s hard to believe Josh Heupel’s offense has still found a way to average 211.2 rushing yards per game.
Unfortunately, the defense is yielding 482.2 yards of their own and needs to do a much better job getting off the field on third downs.
Assessing the Cougars
Dana Holgorsen’s squad is averaging 37.3 points per game despite being held to just 26 against a really stout BYU team. Running the ball effectively has been an issue early on (3.1 ypc as a team), but one thing Coach Holgorsen hasn’t questioned is the heart and determination of his players.
Houston coach Dana Holgorsen: "For 12 quarters there’s things I can complain about but effort and physicality and being tough is not one of them."— Joseph Duarte (@Joseph_Duarte) October 25, 2020
Perhaps they’re not quite as explosive as what Central Florida brings to the table but don’t go to sleep on Clayton Tune and this offense. The Junior from Carrollton, TX has thrown for 300+ yards and multiple touchdowns in each of Houston’s three games.
Tune got a little knocked around in last weekend’s victory over Navy but is locked and loaded for Saturday’s tilt.
The dilemma sets in when you assess the other side of the ball – specifically facing a team as formidable as the Knights. Houston’s secondary has only picked off one pass and the Cougars are yet to even force a fumble – let alone recover one.
UCF vs. Houston Pick
This feels like one of those games that comes down to whichever quarterback has the ball in his hands last. With the line lurking at 2.5 at most of the top sites, I’m grabbing hold of the Cougars at +3 at Bovada.
Central Florida has taken care of the cupcake opponents on their schedule, but they were exposed during losses to Tulsa and Memphis. Houston beat Tulane by 18, they played BYU tough, and they just went into Annapolis and laid a beatdown on the Midshipmen.
I’m afraid to touch the total, but I like Houston to cover the spread on their home field. A bet on the Cougars money line has plenty of merit as well.
More NCAAF Predictions on October 31
If you’re uneasy about a UCF vs. Houston prediction, there are plenty of other college football games to attack on Halloween.
These are three of the matchups I’ll be watching closely.