2019 UCF Knights Football Predictions and Odds to Win National Championship
Taking over for Scott Frost at UCF was going to be a very tough job no matter what. In short order, he took this team from the bottom of the barrel to an unbeaten season, and then he returned home to save Nebraska. But Josh Heupel made it look easy. In his first year with the Knights, all he did was run the table in the regular season. His squad lost their first game in two years in the Fiesta Bowl, but that was only a bit of a low in an impressive season. Critics are always quick to remind you in a case like this, though, that he did it with Frost's players - the Larry Coker effect. Now Heupel has to prove what he can do for himself. He faces some real changes and questions, but he has a lot to work with as well.
2018 in a Nutshell
It wasn't the toughest schedule in the country that the Knights faced, but you can only play the conference you belong to. South Carolina State and Florida Atlantic were really soft nonconference opponents, but hosting Pitt was more impressive - and UCF dismantled them. They were supposed to play at North Carolina as well, but for the third year in a row UCF had a game cancelled due to a hurricane. In conference play, the only real scare they had was at Memphis. They were down 30-17 at the half but got a notably stout defensive effort in the second half and won 31-30. The rest of the games ranged from comfortable to laughable. The low point for the season came in the final regular-season game when stellar QB McKenzie Milton suffered a gruesome leg injury that will cost him at least this season - and maybe more. They played Memphis again in the conference championship game and had an easier go of it, winning 56-41 despite having Darriel Mack Jr. at QB. The undefeated season earned them a berth in the Fiesta Bowl against LSU. They lost that game 40-32 after putting up a strong effort. Mack struggled horribly, going just 11 for 30 through the air, and the team couldn't overcome that.
Key Additions and Departures
Mack will have a shot to start again this year, but he suddenly has some serious competition. Brandon Wimbush, who was 13-3 starting at Notre Dame before losing the job to Ian Book last year, joined UCF as a grad transfer. He should have the edge in the QB race. Whoever gets the nod will have a lot to work with, as the receiving corps is deep and experienced, the running backs are deep, and four of the five starting linemen have played a lot. The offense drives this team, and it should be capable of doing so again.
The defensive line is a big question when the team doesn't have the ball. DT Trysten Hill was the only Knight drafted, going to the Cowboys in the second round. Only Brendon Hayes, a senior DE, has played significantly, so there will be a whole lot of learning on the fly with this squad. The unit was among the worst in the country against the run last year, so the good news with the change is that there is the potential for upside. The linebackers are more experienced, and the secondary is talented and solid.
Proving where the AAC fits in the conference hierarchy, the Knights had the best recruiting haul in the conference, but their class contained no three- or four-star recruits and ranked just 58th nationally. That was up from 62nd the year prior.
Biggest Area of Concern
The defensive line ranks up there, but the bigger issue has to be at QB. They have been spoiled the last two years by having a phenomenal talent in Milton. They have a couple of good options, but the position is so important to this team, and the system demands a lot from the players. If neither potential starter grabs this team and makes it his own, then the team could really have some issues.
UCF Knights Schedule Analysis
If they don't lose a nonconference game to a hurricane, it could be a decent slate. They open with a simpler game against Florida A&M then travel to play Lane Kiffin and Florida Atlantic, who are coming off an ugly year but should be improved. Then they host Stanford and play at Pitt. Wins there would both be really good opportunities to make statements. The conference schedule is solid. They don't have to play Memphis, who is again favored to win the West.
2019-20 UCF Knights Betting Odds and Trends
BetOnline only lists individual odds from 27 teams to win the national title, and UCF is one of them. That's the good news. Don't get too excited, though - they are at +25000, ahead of only Kentucky, so it's not like oddsmakers are in love with the team. Bovada has them as the strong favorite to win the AAC at +135, ahead of second choice Memphis at +320.
2019-20 UCF Knights Predictions and College Football Picks
I like the team. There are questions - especially at QB and up front on defense - but they are more talented and more athletic than the rest of their conference, and they are well-coached. I'm not convinced that they will run the table again, but double-digit wins feels highly likely, and the Knights could again be in play for a New Year's Six bowl berth.
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