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UCF vs. Temple ATS Picks

NCAAF Odds Online

You'd have to forgive fans of the UCF Knights for looking ahead to a Black Friday game against South Florida coming up in a week's time. That game is going to be a showcase on national television with real national implications to it.

But if the Knights aren't careful, they could easily get tripped up by a tough Temple Owls team just six days in advance of the USF game to derail the entire season.

UCF Knights vs. Temple Owls
Date and Time
: Saturday, November 18, 2017, 12 p.m. ET
Location: Lincoln Financial Field, Philadelphia, PA
Opening College Football Odds: UCF -14
UCF vs. Temple TV Coverage: ESPNU

The Knights are rolling. They haven't covered any of their last three games, but it's hard to fault them for that. UCF has been asked to lay 43.5, 14 and 39 points in its last three, and numbers like that are simply hard to cover against anyone at this level.

Scott Frost's team continues to have one of the best offenses in America. The Knights average 48.6 points per game and are simply really hard to stop. McKenzie Milton runs one of the fastest offenses in America. He's one of the six men averaging at least 15 rushing yards per game on this offense, and he is putting up some of the best numbers for any passer in America as well.

Milton is completing just shy of 70 percent of his passes, is averaging 10.8 yards per pass attempt and has 22 touchdowns against just five picks on 253 pass attempts.

Still, Temple won this game last season when these two teams met in Orlando, and it's coming together at the right time. After a 3-5 start the season that threatened to see the Owls miss out on a bowl game, they've rallied for wins over Navy and Cincinnati to get to 5-5. A win over either UCF this week or Tulsa next Saturday would get the job done and put this squad in a bowl game.

We continue to be amazed at how well Frank Nutile is playing for Temple. He went 19-for-30 last week against Cincinnati for 224 yards, numbers that weren't truly spectacular but had a far great effect on the game than you might think. Nutile is a perfect 3-0 ATS in his three starts replacing the injured Logan Marchi, and the one loss in overtime at 8-2 Army is perfectly excusable.

Key Factor

The one thing that UCF has gotten away with this year is a slew of penalties. The Knights are being penalized a whopping 8.89 penalties per game, No. 129 in the nation in front of only South Florida.

The difference between this year's team and last year's team is that this one just seems to be far better served to come back from those mistakes, especially on the offensive side of the ball.

Yet last year when these two teams met, the Knights went just 2-for-12 on third downs and 0-for-2 on fourth downs. They committed 12 penalties for 110 yards and possessed the ball for just 22:42. Virtually all of the problems came in the second half, taking a game that was once 25-7 in favor of UCF and turning it into a 26-25 game that was lost on the last play when Phillip Walker found Keith Kirkwood from eight yards out to win it for the Owls.

UCF vs. Temple Free Picks

You're just waiting for that game where UCF stumbles. We're not sure the Knights end up actually losing here when push comes to shove, but this isn't a game where they should be double-digit favorites at any of the top college football sportsbooks. The difference between these two teams isn't as much as you might think, and the Owls have typically played well against the best teams on their schedule this year.

Sure, the Owls were clocked by 33 at Notre Dame and 36 by USF, but since that point, the squad lost by just seven to Houston and in overtime to Army. The 34-26 win at home against Navy was a real turning point in the season, and we can't help but wonder if that's not going to make this one a really close endeavor.

Take the points, but we think UCF is going to find a way to just barely squeak this game out.

College Football ATS Pick: Temple +14 at
College Football Score Prediction: UCF 34, Temple 31