|6.5 UCF (-114) @ Fanduel|
My 9* Revenge Rout is on UCF at 3:30 ET.
Luke Fickel was an assistant at Ohio St from 2002-16 but on December 10, 2016, was named as the 39th head coach of the University of Cincinnati, taking the place of the resigning Tommy Tuberville. Fickell's Bearcats went just 4-8 in his first season but 2018 would be a historic turnaround for the program, as Cincy finished with an 11-2 record and a 35-31 victory in the Military Bowl over Va Tech. Fickell was named AAC Coach of the Year for the 2018 season, which was only the third 11-win season in UC history. He led the team to another 11-win season in 2019. The Bearcats reeled off NINE straight wins after falling to Ohio State in the second game of the year but fell two straight weeks to Memphis, in the final regular season game and in the conference championship game. However, for the second straight year, Cincinnati won its bowl game over an ACC team, crushing Boston College 38-6 in the Birmingham Bowl. The Bearcats opened the 2020 season ranked 9th in the AP's preseason poll and at 7-0 are up to No. 7 as Cincinnati begins a three-game road stretch that will determine the Bearcats' conference, bowl and even potential playoff fate. It starts with Saturday's game in Orlando against unranked but dangerous 5-2 UCF. Josh Heupel was named head coach of the UCF Knights on December 5, 2017, replacing the departing Scott Frost, who had led UCF to a perfect 13-0 season in 2017. Heupel continued the 'magic' in 2018, as UCF took a 12-0 record (AND a 25-game winning streak) into its Sugar Bowl game with LSU, where the Tigers snapped that win streak with a 40-32 victory (coming out party for Joe Burrow). UF followed with a 10-3 season in 2019 but sits a more modest 5-2 entering this game.
Cincy routed Austin Peay 55-20 to open the season and then had comfortable but routine wins over Army (24-10) and South Florida (28-7) in the second and third games of the season. However, the Bearcats have stepped up the pace by averaging a scoring margin of 46.0-12.5 PPG in wins over SMU, Memphis, Houston and East Carolina. QB Desmond Ridder has posted two triple-digit rushing games in running for 398 yards and nine TDs in that four-game span and completed 71.4 percent of his 105 pass attempts for 886 yards and eight TDs against only two INTs. He's completing 66.7% on the season for 1,483 yards with 14 TDs and six INTs, while ranking second on the team with 469 rushing yards (8.8 YPC and nine TDs). RB has 563 yards on 5.2 YPC with seven TDs, as Cincy averages 247.1 YPG on the ground on 6.5 YPC with 24 TDs. In allowing 12.4 PPG, Cincy ranks third in the nation for fewest points allowed.
UCF opened 2-0 but then lost back-to-back games to Tulsa and Memphis. UCF led Tulsa 16-0 but lost 34-26 (Tulsa's won FOUR times this season when trailing by 14-plus points!) and let a 49-37 lead in the mid-fourth quarter slip away in a 50-49 loss to Memphis. UCF has rebounded to win THREE in a row, averaging 44.3 PPG. QB Gabriel is completing 63.3% for 2,774 yards with 23 TDs and just two INTs, while RBs Anderson (563 yards on 5.8 YPC and four TDs) and McCrae (532 yards on 5.4 YPC with seven TDs) lead a running game averaging 222.3 YPG. Williams (53 catches / 15.0 YPC / 8 TDs) and Robinson (41 catches / 20.0 YPC / 4 TDs) are both dangerous receivers. However, in allowing 28.7 PPG, the UCF defense is allowing more than TWICE as many PPG than Cincy's D.
"It's going to be huge," Bearcats head coach Luke Fickell said. "We're going to find out what we're really made of. ... That is going to be quite a stretch with the bullseye on our back and a lot of things that we want to be able to do. You know we've got to kind of focus in and be hungry and be humble in what we're doing and find a way to continue to grow." This will SURE be a test for the Bearcats, as UCF takes the field with an offense averaging 44.0 PPG on 619.1 YPG (No. 1 in the nation) plus has won 23 of its last 24 home games! What's more, UCF has a score to settle from last season's 27-24 loss at Cincinnati, when the Bearcats broke UCF's 19-game AAC winning streak. Now it's UCF's turn to pull the upset. Book it!