Central Florida at East Carolina
Saturday, 9 am PT - CBSC
CRIS Opener: East Carolina -6 O/U 56.5
CRIS Current: East Carolina -4 O/U 61.5
Recommendation: Central Florida
UCF went 0-12 last year. Ten of their losses came by two touchdowns or more, as they should have – George O’Leary’s final season was a complete disaster. That included a late November 44-7 home loss at the hands of East Carolina. That was then, this is now.
First-year head coach Scott Frost has made it very clear what he wants to install for the Golden Knights. The former Oregon Ducks offensive coordinator wants to become “Oregon of the East." Frost found his starting quarterback two weeks ago when previous starter Justin Holman got hurt. In two games behind center, frosh McKenzie Milton; a dual threat dynamo against both Maryland and FIU.
Here’s Frost’s quote: “One of the things that drew me to the job is I knew I could run a version of our offense that was practically identical to Oregon's because we can recruit that type of player here. I don't think you could run Oregon's offense at Wisconsin; I don't know if you would get enough guys that can run well enough to do it. In Orlando, Florida, there's fast guys in high schools in every direction in close proximity that are already running systems in high school that are similar to this and should want to play in it.”
When a formerly dismal team starts to play competitive football, then starts to win, it becomes contagious – these are bet-on teams week after week, until the markets show that they’ve caught up. Considering that UCF has covered the spread (in regulation) by double digit margins in each of the last two weeks, I’m not convinced in the slightest that the markets have caught up with their improvement.
East Carolina has faced two solid offensive teams; NC State and Virginia Tech. The Wolfpack gained more than 200 yards on the ground AND through the air against East Carolina, and could have scored far more than the 30 points that they did. Last week, Virginia Tech hung 54 on this stop unit, another balanced attack, and the defense didn’t create a turnover. Expect East Carolina to have a tough time getting stops here; bad news for any favorite.
The Pirates are coming off back-to-back physical, demoralizing losses, and they’ve yet to beat a FBS team by more than a field goal this year. A program in transition following the shocking firing of Ruffin McNeill last December has no business laying more than a field goal to a bet-on UCF squad on Saturday.