While the #6 Oklahoma Sooners have had a charmed start to the season as they currently sit at 6-0 with a big rivalry win over Texas, while the UCF Knights are still looking for their first-ever conference win as a Power Five team after joining the Big 12 this season. Get UCF vs. Oklahoma odds, picks and predictions below as our best bet is UCF +18.5.
UCF Vs. Oklahoma Prediction
A week after their win over Texas made them the talk of the town, or more accurately of the entire Nation, Oklahoma had a bye at perhaps the most inopportune time, just as the team was getting really hot. The Sooners were slightly outgained by their mortal rivals in the yardage department, but they won the game on the margins, playing turnover-free football while taking the ball away from the Longhorns twice, including two picks of star quarterback Quinn Ewers. On the other side, Dillon Gabriel was the star once more for Oklahoma, as he threw for almost 300 yards and even added 113 and another touchdown on the ground, proving once again his dual threat abilities.
Speaking of Gabriel, this is a huge game for the fringe Heisman hopeful; he was the starting quarterback for UCF from 2019 to the beginning of 2021, when he suffered an early injury. During that time, he tossed 70 touchdowns and just 14 interceptions across 26 games, but failed to get UCF to the heights achieved by his predecessor, McKenzie Milton. Gabriel transferred to get a taste of Power Five football, but now his old school is in the spotlight too as a new member of the very same conference, and with plenty of his teammates still on the Knights’ roster, this battle is an extremely personal one on both sides.
Unfortunately for UCF, things have been pretty rough to start out their Big 12 tenure. After sprinting out to a 3-0 record in their non-conference schedule, the Knights have dropped their first three conference games, leaving them tied with fellow American Athletic Conference alums Cincinnati as the only winless teams in Big 12 play. UCF was right there with defending conference champions Kansas State, and should have beaten Baylor but gave up a historic comeback. That being said, their most recent game was an absolute demolition at the hands of Kansas, which was mercifully followed by a bye.
Now, the Knights should be well-rested and prepared, and most importantly, will have their quarterback back; John Rhys Plumlee is expected to return from injury to face Oklahoma. Timmy McClain has been fine in relief, but he does not bring a dual-threat quality to this offense like Plumlee does. Getting their first-choice signal caller back under center will be huge for the Knights as they look to pull off the improbable road upset.
As solid as Oklahoma has been on both sides of the ball, it’s hard to shut down a team that runs the football well, and UCF has fit that bill even without Plumlee in the game. The Knights unfortunately will probably not be winning this game outright- although we might be having a much different conversation if this game was in the “Bounce House” in Orlando. Still, with Plumlee back the run game will be supercharged, and the air game will take enough of a step forward to keep the Knights close enough to cover.
UCF Vs. Oklahoma Prediction: UCF +18.5 (-105)
UCF Vs. Oklahoma Best Odds
UCF @ OU
Oct. 21, 11:00 AM
100% of staff picked UCF to cover the spread
Odds updated October 21st, 2023, at 2:25 pm
Oklahoma is a 18.5 point home favorite, or -1100 on the moneyline compared to +700 for UCF, and the total is set at 64.5.
UCF Vs. Oklahoma Key Matchups
The most exciting positional battle will take place when UCF’s offense is on the field, as one of the country’s most efficient ground attacks meets one of the best run prevention units, although UCF will likely need some defensive help to stay in this one.
UCF Rushing Offense vs. Oklahoma Run Defense
UCF’s run game is one of the very best in the country, ranking fourth in the Nation in EPA per play and 36th in success rate. They’ve done it on the strength of an offensive line that ranks in the top-25 of PFF’s run blocking rankings, anchored by tackle Amari Kight and the versatile Marcellus Marshall. They’re averaging 246.3 rushing yards per game, at a clip of exactly six per carry, led by R.J. Harvey with 511 yards and six scores. Johnny Richardson has averaged 8.3 yards per carry on over 50 totes, and Plumlee averaged 8.6 himself before going down with that injury.
Oklahoma’s run defense is uncharacteristically strong, as they’re ranked 11th in the country by EPA per play, and allowing just 3.3 yards per carry and 0.2 ground touchdowns each game. The unit has contributors at all three levels, from line of scrimmage threats Da’Jon Terry and Ethan Downs, to star linebacker Danny Stutsman, and finally to the secondary headlined by safety Peyton Bowen and corner Woodi Washington.
Oklahoma Air Attack vs. UCF Pass Defense
Oklahoma’s passing offense under Gabriel has been as efficient as it ever has been, ranking a remarkable fifth in the country in EPA per play. Despite a mediocre offensive line, Gabriel has tossed for 16 touchdowns to just two picks, with major receiving contributions from Michigan transfer Andrel Anthony and breakout performer Jalil Farooq in terms of yardage, as well as Nic Anderson with a team-high six receiving scores.
UCF’s run defense, ranked 131st in the country by EPA per play, is so bad that it drags the entire defense down to the 125th best in the country by the same metric, overshadowing an air defense unit that has been much closer to competent. If the Knights are able to keep Oklahoma on the ground, they can shorten the game and maybe have a chance to compete in Norman.