Georgia Bulldogs @ #25 Central Florida Knights AutoZone Liberty Bowl Pick: I know the Bulldogs have their doghouse located firmly in the middle of the SEC, but does that make them better than the Knights? I’m sorry, but I’m not much of a believer in that conference power BS – especially in bowl games. The public seems to be, however, as they like the 6-6 Bulldogs to easily cover the touchdown-spread to the tune of 73% of them betting Georgia. In another book, the Bulldogs are 89% favorites to cover the spread. I feel pretty good about being the minority in this one!
The Knights had a nice stroll down the stretch, winning three straight to end the year and 8 of their last 9 games overall. They gave up fewer than 17 points in 7 of their last 10 games, and it’s that defensive consistency that makes me think they have a shot to upset the Bulldogs.
Georgia obviously gets the talent-nod here. Aaron Murray is the much more hyped quarterback prospect, as opposed to CF’s Jeff Godfrey. AJ Green might very well be the best prospect in the game, and maybe the best WR in college football. Georgia’s always loaded with talented kids.
But The Knights know how to win. I’m usually a fan of betting on the unranked favorite over the ranked underdog, but I just see a solid performance coming out of the Knights. They should use their rushing game to stay close in this one. They’ve out-rushed 9 of the last 10 teams they’ve faced, and that’s because they can run the ball well (25th) and stop the run even better (6th).
Georgia Bulldogs @ #25 Central Florida Knights (+7)
Central Florida Knights @ Houston Cougars Point Spread Pick: Houston just isn’t the same kind of football team without Case Keenum at quarterback, and because of that they’ve struggled keeping up with teams that can run with consistency. The Central Florida Knights run the ball very well. In fact, they’ve out-rushed all but one opponent so far this season (NC State). That ability to keep the ball on the ground and gash their opponents has led the Knights to six wins already this season, most recently winning 4 straight games and scoring at least 35 points in every single contest. Did I mention that they’ve won 6 straight games against the spread? A gambling gem quite possibly?
The only teams Central Florida has lost to are North Carolina State and Kansas State, and both games came right down to the wire, CFU losing by a touchdown or less in both.
I know that Houston can score, and they can throw the ball. Not quite like they used to, but they aren’t to be sold short – they can still produce offensively. I just think the consistency of that Central Florida rushing attack, led by Ronnie Weaver’s 638 yards and 10 touchdowns, as well as Jeff Godfrey’s dual threat at the quarterback position (4 touchdowns throwing, 5 rushing), will be too much for the Cougars to counter. That’s why I expect the Knights to win outright on the road at Houston.
Central Florida Knights (-2) @ Houston Cougars