Hurricane Ian had an impact on the college football schedule, and we’re getting a treat with some Wednesday night college football in Week 6. The SMU Mustangs will travel to Orlando to take on the Central Florida Knights in an AAC showdown. Neither team has yet to play a conference game, but both teams have aspirations of contending for the AAC crown.
UCF is viewed as one of the main contenders. Cincinnati is the current betting favorite at +140, but UCF is just slightly behind at +250. They’re off to a 3-1 start, albeit against a soft schedule.
SMU is considered a bit more of a long shot. They’re priced at +750 to win the AAC, which puts them fourth in the conference. They won their first two contests, but they’ve lost their last two games against Power Five opponents.
Who has the edge in this matchup? Let’s dive into our SMU vs. UCF predictions for this game on Wednesday, October 5.
SMU vs. UCF Odds
|SMU||+3 (-110)||+130||O 64.5 (-110)|
|@ UCF||-3 (-110)||-150||U 64.5 (-110)|
Odds via BetFred Sportsbook as of 11 a.m. ET on Oct. 4
- Date: Wednesday, Oct. 5
- Time: 7 p.m. ET
- Location: FBC Mortgage Stadium (Orlando, FL)
- TV: ESPN2
SMU vs. UCF Predictions Trends
- SMU is 2-2 this season (1-2 against the spread).
- UCF is 3-1 this season (1-2 against the spread).
- SMU was 5-6 against the spread last season.
- UCF was 4-8 against the spread last season.
- SMU is 15-24 against the spread in conference games since 2017.
- SMU is 1-5-1 against the spread in their last seven games as underdogs.
- UCF is 28-3 straight up in their last 31 home games, but they’re 5-12 against the spread in their last 17 as home favorites.
- As of Tuesday, DraftKings reports that 71% of the bets and 62% of the handle are on UCF.
- For the total, 49% of the bets and 56% of the handle are on the over.
Can SMU Stop Turning It Over?
SMU has had no problem moving the ball this season. They’ve averaged more than 506 yards of total offense per game, including 524 yards when facing an FBS opponent. In their last contest, they went toe-to-toe with unbeaten TCU, finishing with just 11 fewer yards of total offense.
The big difference in that game was that TCU had zero turnovers while SMU had two. That has been a big story for the Mustangs to start the season. They racked up 520 yards vs. Maryland – 81 more yards than the Terrapins – but they lost the game because of three turnovers. Even in their two wins, SMU averaged 2.5 turnovers per game, but that’s not as big a deal when you’re playing subpar competition.
Things start with quarterback Tanner Mordecai. He’s racked up plenty of big plays this season, averaging 346.25 yards and three touchdown passes per game, but he’s also thrown five interceptions. SMU has also averaged one lost fumble per game, and SMU ranks tied for 112th out of 131 FBS teams in terms of turnover margin.
It goes without saying that you simply cannot turn the ball over that much if you want to beat competent football teams. Their passing game is legit – they rank fifth in the nation in passing yards per game – but it’s hard to score if you don’t have the ball.
UCF: University of Cramming the Football
While SMU is all about the passing attack, UCF is built to run the football. They’ve done a phenomenal job on the ground this season, averaging 276 rushing yards per game. That ranks third in the nation, trailing only triple-option schools in Air Force and Army.
Quarterback John Rhys Plumlee leads the way on the ground. He still needs to prove he can actually throw the football – he’s averaging just 6.8 adjusted yards per attempt – but he makes up for it with an average of 5.9 yards per game. He’s averaged more than 100 rushing yards per game to go along with four rushing touchdowns.
UCF made that look easy😮💨 Isaiah Bowser in for six!
— PFF College (@PFF_College) September 9, 2022
The UCF running backs are also getting the job done. Isaiah Bowser is the least productive of the group, averaging just 3.3 yards per carry, but he’s found the end zone five times. Johnny Richardson and R.J. Harvey haven’t seen as much work, but they’re averaging 7.1 yards per carry on their 48 combined attempts.
UCF’s defense has also been better than expected to start the year, surrendering an average of just 316.5 yards per game.
However, UCF has played a very easy schedule. Their three wins have come against South Carolina St, Florida Atlanta, and Georgia Tech, while they suffered a six-point home loss to Louisville. SMU is far from a juggernaut, but this will be a bit of a test.
SMU vs. UCF Predictions
This is a tough game to handicap. These teams play wildly different styles of football, so it’s hard to know which team will be able to impose their will. If UCF has their way, they’ll dominate this game with their running attack and keep the SMU offense on the sidelines. If SMU has their way, they’ll turn this game into a shootout.
Most of the bets have sided with the Knights, but the money is coming in on the Mustangs. I’m going to side with SMU as well. Their passing attack has proven they can move the ball against good competition, with TCU and Maryland grading out as better teams than UCF. Central Florida is a much bigger question mark. Louisville is not the same quality team they were in the past, while FAU and Georgia Tech are among the worst FBS schools in the nation. SMU represents a step up in weight class, and I don’t think their defense will be as good as their current numbers suggest.
If SMU can establish a lead, it will force UCF to throw the ball more than they want to. Plumlee has not proven that he can win games with his arm, so they’re not really equipped for that kind of contest.
Pick: SMU +3.0 | -110 at BetFred Sportsbook