Union Home Mortgage Gasparilla Bowl: UCF vs Florida
Two of the sunshine state’s biggest brands are keeping it local this bowl season as UCF and Florida get ready to show down in the Union Home Mortgage Gasparilla Bowl on Thursday December 23rd at Raymond James Stadium in Tampa, FL. The Florida Gators come into this game as a 6.5 point favorite coming off a 6th place finish in the SEC East. The UCF Knights, meanwhile, are coming off consecutive wins that led them to a third place finish in the American Athletic Conference. The over/under in this one is 55.5 and Florida and UCF are -262 and +167 on the moneyline, respectively.
UCF vs Florida Betting Odds
UCF vs Florida Betting Trends
Florida is 0-6 ATS in its last 6 games
Florida is 0-5 ATS as favorites in its last 5 games
Florida is 6-2 ATS in their last 8 Bowl games as a favorite.
UCF is 6-15 ATS in its last 21 games
UCF is 1-4 ATS as underdogs in its last 5 games
UCF is 2-5 ATS in their last 7 neutral site games.
UCF Knights Betting Odds
UCF finished with a solid 8-4 record in what was one of the best years for the American Athletic conference in recent memory. Their scoring offense ranks top 40 in the nation, putting up over 32.2 points per game while their scoring defense was good enough for third in the conference behind only Houston and Cincinnati. They’ve struggled to throw the ball this season, averaging just 211 yards in the passing game, though they have the second best rushing offense in the conference behind Navy.
The only ranked team UCF has played this year is Cincinnati, and they lost that game by 35.
Florida Gators Betting Odds
This season has been a rollercoaster ride and a half for Gator fans. After nearly beating Bama in the early weeks of the season, this team dropped 3 straight from October 16th to November 6th against LSU, Georgia, and South Carolina, only to end the losing streak in a 70-52 shootout against Samford of all teams. They did not win a single game against an SEC opponent in their final 6 weeks and only held two opponents below two touchdowns. The trainwreck that was the latter half of this season for the Gators ultimately led to the dismissal of Dan Mullen and the promotion of Greg Knox to interim head coach.
While the Gasparilla bowl may not be what fans were hoping for, it does give them a chance to claim the de facto Florida state title. There’s no love to be lost between these two fan bases, and any time a non power five team beats an SEC team during bowl season you can count on an ensuing media frenzy.
UCF vs Florida Picks & Prediction
Neither one of these teams has been particularly good against the spread this year so something is going to have to give on Thursday. This is one of the worst Florida defenses in recent memory, ranked eleventh in the SEC in points allowed despite having the fifth easiest strength of schedule in the conference. They do have the third best yards per game offense in the SEC led by the rushing attack of Dameon Pierce and Malik Davis. This should be an advantage over a UCF defense that is middle of the pack in defending the run — giving up over 155 yards a game. This, coupled with the fact that UCF is 3-18 against SEC teams all time, and I think Florida is definitely the play on the moneyline. On the spread, however, I like UCF. Florida continues to deal with the aftermath of firing Dan Mullen as several players have opted to enter the transfer portal after this game. UCF, meanwhile, comes in with their head held high looking to make a statement against an SEC opponent. There’s a strong edge for UCF regarding emotional investment in the weeks leading up to this game and I think that’s worth at least a field goal, maybe more.
My Pick: Florida wins 35-32, UCF covers (+6.5) and the over hits (o55.5)