Can UCF Step Up in Class vs. Auburn?
The Peach Bowl in Atlanta brings about one of those bowl matchups that produces much intrigue, because you get an undefeated team that has shown a lot of offensive prowess going up against an opponent that has tackled and beaten some of the best in the country and can also defend with the best of them. We are talking about, respectively, the Central Florida Knights, who are the champions of the American Athletic Conference, and the Auburn Tigers, who lost in the SEC title game. This game will begin at 12:30 PM ET on Monday (January 1) at the Mercedes-Benz Stadium, and VietBet customers will have the chance, while they are watching it on ESPN, to place wagers in real time as they access what is available through Live Betting Ultra.
2017 Peach Bowl Odds – Pro Football Betting Line:
In the college football odds that have been posted on this Peach Bowl at VietBet, Auburn is the clear favorite:
Auburn Tigers -9.5
Central Florida Knights +9.5
Over 67 points -110
Under 67 points -110
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2017 Peach Bowl Odds – CJ’s Take
You certainly can’t say enough about the job that Scott Frost has done at UCF, as he has taken a team that was 0-12 just two seasons ago and turned it completely around, to where they are the only undefeated major college team in the country. The Knights sport a 12-0 straight-up record (6-4-1 ATS), and they have survived some real shootouts with good teams, including the regular-season finale, where they beat South Florida 49-42, and the AAC championship game, where they turned back Memphis in overtime 62-55. And now they have made it to the New Year’s Six, which is a very prestigious thing for any team that resides outside of the “Power 5” conferences. A win would fimrly place them in the top ten.
Of course, they will be encountering a hostile foe here, as Auburn (10-3 straight-up, 6-7 against the points) has a lot more of that “big game experience.” The Tigers hold victories by double-digit margins over two of the four teams that are involved in the college football playoff, and they limited the defending national champions, who are also in the playoff, to just 14 points. Those are some sterling credentials right there, and they present a great contrast with the upstart team that has not necessarily proven itself against elite competition.
Auburn was thought to have really upset the national championship plans of Georgia back on November 11, when they so thoroughly dominated the Bulldogs, out gaining them by 258 yards and registering a 40-17 victory. Of course, they were then beaten in the rematch, which was played for the SEC title in this brand-new stadium, losing by a 28-7 count. So Georgia did indeed go to the Final Four (to play Oklahoma). So how did Auburn get to the SEC championship game? Well, they won the Iron Bowl against hated rival Alabama by a 26-14 count. But the Crimson Tide is headed to the playoff as well. Early in the season, Auburn played Clemson very tight, but gave up 11 sacks and lost a 14-6 decision. The most painful loss of the season had to have taken place on October 14, when they blew a 20-point lead to lose 27-23 against LSU.
Jared Stidham, a transfer from Baylor, gives Auburn more of a pure passer than it’s had in its attack in recent years. He was 67% accurate and threw only four interceptions. And the Tigers are very optimistic that Kerryon Johnson, who rushed for 1320 yards with 17 touchdowns on the ground, will be recovered enough from a shoulder injury to have a major impact. This is also a team that can stop the opposition; they ranked #14 in the nation in total defense.
So maybe they have what it takes to turn back Central Florida, which leads the nation with 49.4 points per game. But the have to figure out a way to slow down a very talented quarterback in McKenzie Milton, who completed almost 70%, had a great 35-9 ratio of touchdowns to interceptions, and also gained 497 yards on the ground. Frost, who has already accepted the head coaching job at Nebraska, his alma mater, is sticking around to coach his team in this game, which we consider a plus in this circumstance. And reportedly, the Knights while a lot of support, as they sold out their ticket allotment. Many people don’t understand that UCF has one of the largest student bodies in the country, so there is tremendous potential for support.
Yet they are still unproven, and we don’t have a lot of confidence in their defense. While we give Central Florida a lot of credit for being able to move the ball, this will be a different challenge than what they have faced. We will favor the team that has succeeded against top-of-the-line competition, so we give the nod to Auburn in this one.
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By Charles Jay