The American Athletic Conference received a healthy dose of national attention last season thanks to a dream season by the Central Florida Knights. Despite the squad's snub of a berth in the College Football Playoff, the Knights added a punctuation mark to a perfect 12-0 regular season by knocking off the Auburn Tigers in the Peach Bowl. In the final AP Poll, UCF ranked No. 6 in the country, ahead of perennial powerhouses like Wisconsin, Penn State and TCU. On Thursday, the first step in their national title quest, the Knights take on the Connecticut Huskies at 7 p.m. ET from Rentschler Field in East Hartford. Central Florida is favored by 24 points, up one from the opener. The Over-Under, or total number of points Vegas thinks will be scored, has shot up from 70 to 75. Before you lock in your UCF vs. UConn picks, you need to see what SportsLine data scientist Stephen Oh has to say.
Oh, the renowned co-founder of AccuScore, specializes in sports simulations, projections and advanced statistical analysis. Armed with this trusty projection model as a guide, Oh is an impressive 5-1 in his previous six selections for or against the Huskies.
Last season, Oh confidently backed the Memphis Tigers, 16-point road favorites, against the Huskies. The result: Memphis steamrolled UConn with 700 yards of offense as Tigers quarterback Riley Ferguson threw seven touchdown passes in a 70-31 romp, allowing Oh to cash with ease.
Now, Oh has scrutinized UCF vs. UConn from every possible angle to reveal a strong point-spread pick that he's sharing at SportsLine.
Oh knows All UCF title hopes are mounted on the right arm of quarterback McKenzie Milton. The sophomore sensation was a model of consistency last season, completing more than two-thirds of his pass attempts while rushing for an average of seven yards out of the option. He'll be watching out for his favorite target, Dredrick Snelson, when he's slinging the pigskin. The junior receiver racked up 695 yards in 2017 while hitting pay dirt eight times and he's expected to be a breakout star in the conference.
The Knights' backfield is fully stocked with bruiser Taj McGowan and Adrian Killins. While McGowan tries to wear down front sevens with his size, Killins is a constant threat to break into the secondary every time he gets the handoff.
But just because the Knights have plenty of firepower doesn't mean they can cover a three-touchdown-plus spread. Connecticut, which finished last season 3-9, turns to senior quarterback David Pindell, who started four games in 2017, tossing four scores and six interceptions. His primary receivers create matchup woes for opposing secondaries. Aaron McLean, a 6-foot-5 senior, makes the transition from receiver to tight end, while 6-foot-3 sophomore Keyion Dixon should be able to pull down a majority of 50-50 balls.
The Huskies hope to get more production from sophomore running backs Kevin Mensah and Nate Hopkins, who appeared to wear down as the 2017 season progressed. In their final nine games, the Huskies mustered just 3.2 yards per carry.
We can tell you Oh is leaning toward the Under, but he has uncovered a critical X-factor that will determine which side of the spread hits hard. He's sharing what it is, and which team to back, only at SportsLine.
So which side of the spread should you back for UCF vs. UConn, and which X-factor determines the outcome? Visit SportsLine now to see which side you need to be all over, all from the expert who's 5-1 on picks involving the Huskies.