The Central Florida Knights put their undefeated season on the line when they host the surging Temple Owls on Thursday night at 7:30 p.m. ET. The clubs are tied for first place in the East Division of the AAC, so the winner will be in a commanding position to reach the conference title game. UCF hopes to build on its nation-best 20-game winning streak, which includes an AAC title and Peach Bowl victory last season. Meanwhile, Temple is looking to continue its turnaround after dropping its first two games. The Knights are 12-point favorites in the latest Central Florida vs. Temple odds after dropping as low as -10.5, while the over-under for total points scored sits at 60.5. Before you lock in your own UCF vs. Temple picks, check out what SportsLine expert Emory Hunt has to say.
Hunt is the founder and CEO of Football Gameplan, which has been supplying analysis of all levels of football since 2007. The former college football running back joined SportsLine in 2016 and has provided his followers with winning seasons in college and pro football.
Hunt is having another solid season for SportsLine members and he has a keen eye for the tendencies of these two programs. In fact, he boasts a mark of 5-1 in spread picks involving Temple or Central Florida over the past two seasons.
In Week 4, Hunt advised SportsLine members that UCF would have too much firepower for Florida Atlantic and recommended backing the Knights as two-touchdown favorites. The result: They pulled away for a 56-36 victory, and anyone who followed Hunt's advice booked another winner.
Now, Hunt has analyzed Central Florida vs. Temple from every angle and released a strong point-spread selection that is available only at SportsLine.
He knows UCF returned several key players from its record-setting team, but there were questions whether they could duplicate their production after coach Scott Frost left to lead his alma mater at Nebraska. But they have kept up the pace under first-year head coach Josh Heupel, who left a coordinator job at Missouri to lead the Knights. They have scored 45 or more points four times this season and hit 56 twice.
The Knights are coming off a somewhat meager offensive output in a 37-10 win last week over East Carolina, but quarterback McKenzie Milton was a late scratch with an ankle injury and watched from the sidelines. Backup Darriel Mack ran for 120 yards and two scores despite passing for just 69 yards. Milton is expected to be back under center Thursday and has been day-to-day this week.
Even so, there's no guarantee the Knights will cover against a Temple club that has quietly emerged as perhaps their biggest threat to another AAC title.
Bad breaks and inconsistent play caused Temple (5-3) to drop to its first two games of the season, both at home, but the Owls have recovered with a flourish. Behind a physical, solid defense and an increasingly productive offense, Temple has regained the form that has made it one of top-tier teams in the conference over the past few seasons.
The Owls trailed most of the way last week, but rallied to beat Cincinnati in overtime. Anthony Russo tied the game with 49 seconds left on a touchdown pass to Brandon Mack, then hit Isaiah Wright with a 25-yard winner in overtime.
The Owls haven't allowed more than 17 points to any conference opponent.
We can tell you Hunt is leaning toward the over, but his much stronger play is on the side. He has scoured every aspect of this matchup and unearthed the critical x-factor that causes one side of the spread to hit hard. He's only sharing at SportsLine.
Who covers in Temple vs. Central Florida? And what critical x-factor makes one side of the spread a must-back? Visit SportsLine now to see which side you need to jump on Thursday, from an accomplished handicapper who's hitting 83 percent of his picks involving these teams.