SMU vs UCF Odds, Picks and Predictions: Knights Corral Mustangs With Ground Game

John Rhys Plumlee is coming off perhaps his worst passing performance of his college career (8-for-16, 49 yards), but that hardly matters since he rushed for 100 yards and a score. UCF's potent overall run game should dominate the leaky SMU defense.

Last Updated: Oct 5, 2022 4:04 PM ET Read Time: 4 min
John Rhys Plumlee UCF Knights College Football
Photo By - USA TODAY Sports

After being rescheduled not once but twice due to Hurricane Ian, we will get bonus football on Wednesday as the Southern Methodist Mustangs visit the Central Florida Knights in an AAC showdown. The Mustangs are coming off a home defeat to TCU after a slow start to the game, and are on a two-game losing skid. The hosts have enjoyed three victories in four tries, including a win over Georgia Tech in their last outing.

Both defenses have been poor against the pass, but it’s the run game that will likely decide the outcome on Wednesday. Find out why that’s the case in our Southern Methodist vs Central Florida college football picks and predictions for Wednesday, October 5. 

SMU vs UCF best odds

SMU vs UCF picks and predictions

Central Florida’s last outing saw quarterback John Rhys Plumlee have one of the worst games of his career. He completed 8 of 16 throws for just 49 yards and threw an interception. It was the second-lowest passing total of his 13 collegiate starts, dating back to his time with Mississippi. And it came … in a 17-point victory for the Knights.   

That’s because Plumlee ran for 100 yards and a score on the day, part of a 56-carry, 284-yard performance from one of the best rushing attacks in the country. Through four games, the Knights are averaging the fourth-most rushing yards per game at 267.7 yards, and only five teams average more than their nearly 50 carries per game. They’re also gaining big chunks, averaging 5.4 yards per carry. 

That’s bad news for Southern Methodist. While the Mustangs have an outstanding quarterback in Tanner Mordecai, their defense has been atrocious against the run this year. They’re allowing 211.7 yards per contest and 5.4 yards per carry, the 11th worst average in college football. 

On the other side of the ball, UCF’s pass defense matches up well with SMU’s high-powered passing attack. It's holding teams to just a 53% completion rate — one of the lowest in the country — while allowing only 205.7 yards through the air. This is helped by the fact that only 14 teams hold the ball on offense longer than the Knights. 

This game could very well come down to which team is able to convert its drives into points. UCF leads the nation in red zone defense this season with a conversion rate of 38.5%, but it's one of the worst in terms of converting once it gets inside the 20. Conversely, SMU has scored on a higher rate of red zone attempts, but not by much. The Mustangs rank 24th in red zone defense but their opponents score 75% of the time.  

Plumlee has shown that he is capable of making plays with his arms, throwing for more than 300 yards in two games this season. While Mordecai can make big plays, he will have his opportunities limited by how well UCF will run the ball and control the pace of play. The Knights will punish SMU’s poor run defense the same way that TCU did, and will cover the spread.

My best bet: UCF -3 (-110 at DraftKings)

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SMU vs UCF spread analysis

SMU is an underdog in this game and has been since the line opened. The Knights have gone down slightly in terms of being favored, with the line adjusting about half a point since opening last weekend. The Mustangs have struggled on the road against good teams, having failed to cover in their last four against teams with a winning record. They’ve also covered just once in their last six games.

The Knights have won six of their last seven games, but have been even stronger at home with nine wins in their last 10. They’ve won five straight at home against SMU, with all five victories coming by double-digits. They’ve won three of four this season, with their only defeat being a comeback win by Louisville in week two.

SMU vs UCF Over/Under analysis

This game’s total opened at 65 and, despite some small fluctuation, remains pretty much at that number. UCF’s defense has been stingy this season. Three of its four games have seen its opponent score 14 or fewer points, with Louisville getting just 20 in its win. Its offensive scoring output has varied, but the Under has hit in each of the Knights' last three games. Just one of their four games has reached this game’s projected number.

SMU’s high-powered offense and porous defense have led to totals being fairly high for the Mustangs of late, but they’ve often failed to reach them. The Under is 4-1 in their last five games on the road and 4-2 in their last six overall. This season, three of their four games have failed to reach the total.

SMU vs UCF betting trend to know

The Home team is 8-0-1 ATS in the last nine games between these two teams. Find more NCAA betting trends for SMU vs. UCF.

SMU vs UCF game info

Location: FBC Mortgage Stadium, Orlando, FL
Date: Wednesday, October 5, 2022
Kickoff: 7:00 p.m. ET
TV: ESPN

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