Kent State vs. UCF kicks off this Thursday at 7:00pm EST in Orlando as a home game for the Knights. UCF is currently a -37 favorite for the game with moneyline odds off the board. The total is set at 57.5. Read on for more Kent State vs. UCF best bets and predictions as this game may get out of hand in a flash.
Kent State Vs. UCF Prediction & Best Bet
The Pick: UCF First Half Spread (-21), if available
When grooming through early season betting lines, returning production takes center stage in terms of what to look for before digging more into the game. Kent State instantly popped off the screen with a near league worst TARP as they brought back practically no one on both ends of the ball.
The lack of returning production on offense spells doom for the Golden Flashes as they relied heavily on their ability to make small gains as explosiveness was non-existent. They ranked 47th in Off Success Rate yet a lowly 103rd in Explosiveness. They now replace their starting quarterback, running back, and three starting pass catchers.
With new faces in every skill position, Kent State will have a tough time stringing together drives against an experienced UCF defense. Especially since they will be unable to take advantage of UCF’s weakness as the Knights struggled to contain passing explosiveness. When not getting beat over the top, the Knights defense excelled at limiting opposing offenses by ranking 54th in Def Success Rate.
Expect a heavy dose of the run on Kent State’s end as they get their legs out under them early in the contest. This is an area that UCF excels at defending, ranking 25th in Def Rush Success Rate. Early outs will come early and often, giving the Knights offense plenty of opportunities to put up points in a hurry. UCF’s John Rhys Plumlee will have no issue in burning a putrid Kent State secondary, a unit that ranked near dead last in defending the pass.
With starters expected to be pulled early in the second half, as well as a looming storm rolling in, take the Knights to cover the first half at no higher than -21. This negates second half variance with the backups as well as avoid a draining clock as a heavier dose of the run will be called late in the game.
Kent State Vs. UCF Odds
With turnover at nearly every position on both ends of the ball for the Golden Flashes, oddsmakers have this as a blow out by opening the Knights as a -34.5 favorite. Bettors have been adamant in UCF’s chances of covering, backing the Knights up to as high as -37 in some shops. That number is a tad inflated as the new clock rules hamper the quantity of drives that run heavy teams like UCF gets, yet Kent State may get scored on every drive.
Speaking of points, oddsmakers believe they will be scored at a quick pace as they opened the total at 58.5. That number has since ticked down a bit, getting bet down to 57 as of writing. A heavy dose of the run in the second half and new clock rules bring too much variance for my liking when backing the total. The weather is also worth monitoring as a storm may play a factor late in the contest with heavy winds and rain in the forecast.
Kent State Vs. UCF Key Matchups
Will UCF’s ground game continue to generate explosiveness on the ground? Does Kent State split quarterback duties?
Normally known for their down field passing attack, the Knights offense looked a bit different last season after relying heavier on their ground game. A big reason for this is because they generated big gains at ease with their running backs as opposed to their inability to stretch the field through the air.
While it’s near impossible to point out anything good when talking about Kent State, they did do a good job at limiting rush explosiveness. With new faces at nearly every position, that number is expected to drastically decrease.
A Golden Flash Quarterback Battle
It’s never easy on an offense to go through a quarterback change early in the year. It’s especially not easy when there’s a quarterback battle going on with both needing to get integrated into the offense.
As of writing, Devin Kargman and Kansas State transfer Jaren Lewis are both expected to see the field. This shakes up any momentum that Kent State may accumulate, should they be able to find any offensive success.