(7-5, 6-5-1 ATS)
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(9-3, 9-3 ATS)
Conference USA’s champion will be crowned on Saturday afternoon at Bright House Networks Stadium, as the UCF Knights and SMU Mustangs battle it out in the Conference USA Championship Game for the right to go the Liberty Bowl.
We have to give HC June Jones and his staff a ton of credit for turning the Mustangs into winners, as this was a program in shambles when he took it over after leaving the Hawaii Warriors. They fell just short of the C-USA title game last year, but this season, though they probably didn’t have the best team in the division, they got the job done. Though Jones is always a coach that loves his passing attack, he has toned it down a bit this year and let RB Zach Line do his thing. Line has rushed for 1,297 yards and ten TDs. Don’t let all of that fool you, though. QB Kyle Padron is still throwing the pigskin all over the field. The sophomore put together a great second half of the season, and on the campaign, he has 3,306 yards and 28 scores against just ten blunders. WR Aldrick Robinson is already amongst the 1,000 yard receivers in the nation this year, as he is at 1,182 yards on just 57 receptions with 12 of those going for scores. WR Cole Beasley should join him this week. Beasley has 79 grabs for 976 yards and six TDs.
UCF probably had the best defense in the conference this year top to bottom, and the offense has finally started to catch up. Now, the Knights are ranked in the Top 25 for the second time this year, and they hope that they can make it count this time around, as they were defeated in their only other appearance in the Top 25 by the Southern Mississippi Golden Eagles. This ‘O’ has put up at least 35 points in all but one game in its last eight, that loss to SMS, and the ‘D’ has held five of those foes to 17 points or fewer. QB Jeff Godfrey has gotten the job done for the Knights all season long once he took over for the injured QB Rob Calabrese. Godfrey has thrown for just 1,875 yards and 12 scores, but he also has 529 yards and ten more TDs on the ground. RB Latavius Murray has nine scores on 73 carries, while the featured back, RB Ronnie Weaver, has 177 carries for 855 yards and 11 tuddies. What makes UCF’s offense amazing this year is that last year’s featured runner, RB Brynn Harvey, hasn’t taken a single snap this season.
The Knights won their only appearance in the Conference USA title game prior to this, blowing the doors off of the Tulsa Golden Hurricane with a great running game and some timely big plays in the passing department. The formula hasn’t changed for HC George O’Leary over the years, and the end result isn’t being altered either. The Knights will snare the C-USA Championship on Saturday afternoon.
College Football Free Pick: UCF Knights -9.5
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