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Fireworks Expected at Fiesta Bowl: Baylor/UCF

This line is utterly ridiculous, but Pro Edge expected it because of public misperception. No one is talking about Central Florida, whereas everyone is discussing the Bears and their explosive attack.  The betting public can ignore Central Florida at their own peril as Pro Edge is putting its money on a team that is 37-15 SU over the last four years, with only two losses coming by more than ten points.  Head coach George O’Leary has done a remarkable job with the Central Florida football program as he has guided the Knights to a 71-45 record since his first year on the sidelines, including four double-digit win seasons. Moreover, the Knights are a near-perfect 13-1 ATS as underdogs of more than four points since 2008, and I expect that number to improve to 14-1 ATS after tonight.

Central Florida arrives in Glendale with an excellent offense that is averaging 33.2 points per game this season at 4.3 yards per rush play, 9.0 yards per pass attempt and 6.5 yards per play.  The Knights’ attack is led by future NFL star Blake Bortles, who owns an impressive 49-18 ratio over the last two seasons and has compiled thirteen rushing touchdowns over that span.  The 6-foot-4 junior is ninth nationally in passing efficiency (163.3), racking up 3,280 yards and 22 touchdowns with seven interceptions.  Overall, Central Florida is 0.4 yards per rush play, 1.7 yards per pass play and 1.0 yards per play better than average offensively in 2013.

The good news for Central Florida is the fact that its secondary is the strength of the defense as the Knights are allowing just 6.4 yards per pass play to teams that combine to average 6.9 yards per play.  The secondary also boasts an 11-13 ratio and have enough talent to at least limit the damage expected to be done by Baylor’s explosive attack.  The other piece of good news is that Baylor’s offense only averaged 38.0 points per game on the road compared to 61.0 points per game at home.  Baylor’s overall stats also declined by -116.0 net yards from Game Seven out, which was the second largest decline of all bowl teams this year.

Finally, motivation could not be higher for Central Florida as the Knights are playing in their first BCS Bowl game.  “It’s something everyone at UCF is excited about, the administration, the fan base,” coach George O’Leary said.  “Anytime you have a first in anything, people get very excited, but especially when you’re invited to a bowl like the Fiesta.”  A motivated team combined with an excited fan base makes for a live underdog on New Year’s Day. With Central Florida standing at 4-0 ATS versus Big 12 opposition, Pro Edge recommends a solid wager on the Knights at +17 or more in the Fiesta Bowl.

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