Gus Malzahn must be loving life with the UCF Knights now that Dillon Gabriel is his quarterback. The junior signal-caller has picked up where he left off last season and has been slinging the ball over the field, leading the Knights to a 2-0 record.
UCF will look to stay perfect when they visit the Louisville Cardinals on Friday night. Can the Knights’ high-octane offense help them cover as 6.5-point chalk, or do the Cardinals have betting value as a home underdog?
Find out with our free college football betting picks and predictions for UCF vs. Louisville on Friday, September 17.
UCF vs Louisville odds
Odds via the Covers Line, an average comprised of odds from multiple sportsbooks.
UCF hit the board as a 7.5-point road favorite, but as of Wednesday afternoon, the early money has come in on Louisville, moving the line down to UCF -6.5. As for the total, it hit the board at 69.5 and it was quickly bet up to 70. But since then it has come down to 68.
UCF vs Louisville picks
Picks made on 9/15/2021 at 4:10 p.m. ET.
Click on each pick to jump to the full analysis.
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UCF vs Louisville game info
• Location: Cardinal Stadium, Louisville, KY
• Date: Friday, September 17, 2021
• Time: 7:30 p.m. ET
• TV: ESPN
UCF vs Louisville betting preview
Be sure to monitor the gametime conditions with our NCAA football weather info.
UCF: No key injuries to report.
Louisville: No key injuries to report.
Find our latest NCAA football injury reports.
Betting trend to know
Louisville is 7-23-1 ATS in its last 31 games going against a team with a winning record. Find more NCAA betting trends for UCF vs. Louisville.
UCF vs Louisville predictions
UCF -6.5 (-110)
Could you imagine going from Bo Nix as your quarterback to Dillon Gabriel? Well, that’s exactly what Gus Malzahn has done with his move from Auburn to UCF and the new head coach-quarterback combo has gotten off to a great start in 2021.
The junior signal-caller already has thrown from 630 yards and six touchdowns while completing 65.8 percent of his passes (up from his career average of 59.7), leading the Knights to a 2-0 record straight up and against the spread.
But Gabriel hasn’t just done it on his own, the Knights are also averaging 272.5 rushing yards per game at a clip of 6.1 yards per attempt. While the defense has shut down opposing running games and has given up 22.5 points per game.
On the other side, Louisville was able to bounce back after an opening week loss to Ole Miss by taking out FCS Eastern Kentucky 30-3, but was unable to cover the 30-point spread at home. Quarterback Malik Cunningham bounced back, but he could see a lot of similar looks that the Rebels gave him in the opener.
In fact, there could be many similarities to that Ole Miss game for the Cardinals. The Rebels limited the Cardinals to 3.9 yards per carry in that game and forced Cunningham to beat them through the air. He completed just 59.4 percent of his passes as they limited him to a minuscule 5.2 yards per attempt.
Yes, Louisville is coming off a solid performance, but that was Eastern Kentucky. They have already shown they have trouble dealing with fast-paced offenses in the loss to Ole Miss. Plus, UCF has shown it can shut down the run game. If the Knights can keep Cunningham in the pocket, they should be able to walk away with their perfect record intact and will be a good bet to cover the spread in the process.
Under 68 (-110)
When it comes to the total, after some early action on the Over, Under money has driven the number down a couple of points, and I have to say, I agree even at the current number. For starters, Louisville saw a similar total in its game against Ole Miss, going Under that number and putting up 67 total points.
Ole Miss won that game 43-24 and has an electric offense, so if this one is going to go Over, the Knights will have to put in some work.
On top of that, the Cardinals only had 10 points in that game before a couple of late scores in garbage time. Louisville also only managed 30 points against Eastern Kentucky. Now, they face a defense that has allowed a ridiculous 1.1 yards per rush attempt this season.
Another problem for Louisville has been third downs, converting them just 40 percent of the time. Not sustaining drives certainly doesn’t help to score. This is a good number, but I think it slips Under.
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