The No. 8 ranked UCF Knights will take on the No. 11 ranked LSU Tigers in the Playstation Fiesta Bowl. Kickoff is set for 1:00 EST on Tuesday, January 1st at State Farm Stadium in Glendale, AZ. The game will be televised on ESPN.
Oddsmakers opened up this game with LSU as a 8-point favorite. The line has since dropped and most have the Tigers at -7.5 with some even down to -7. The total for this matchup is currently 55.5 points.
Fiesta Bowl Vegas Spread Preview: LSU vs UCF
You have to tip your hat to LSU head coach Ed Orgeron. A lot of people not only thought the Tigers would struggle in 2018, some wondered if they would even get to a bowl. LSU started the season 7-1 with an impressive 36-16 win over then No. 2 Georgia. The SEC West title was basically up for grabs when they hosted No. 1 Alabama on Nov. 3rd. The defense did it’s part, but the Crimson Tide were shutout in a 29-0 loss.
The Tigers missed out on their first 10-win season since 2013 in a absolutely crazy 74-72 seven overtime loss at Texas A&M in the finale. They can still accomplish that goal with a win in the bowl game. LSU is 1-1 in bowl games under Orgeron. He was the interim head coach for their 29-9 win over Louisville in the 2016 Citrus Bowl, but last year fell 21-17 to Notre Dame in the same bowl.
UCF is coming off another remarkable season. The Knights went a perfect 12-0 in the regular-season and despite losing star quarterback McKenzie Milton to injury, rallied for a crazy 56-41 win over Memphis in the ACC title game. UCF has not lost a game since they fell to Arkansas State in the 2016 Cure Bowl, as the enter this contest riding a 26-game winning streak.
The Knights beat Auburn 34-27 as a 10-point underdog in the Peach Bowl last year. It was the second time the last 5 years that UCF represented the Group of 5 in a New Year Six bowl and won the game outright as a dog. They beat Baylor 52-42 as a 16-point dog in the 2013 Fiesta Bowl.
2019 Fiesta Bowl Free Pick & Betting Predictions: UCF +7.5
My early lean here would be to grab the 7.5-points with UCF. There’s just something special about this run the Knights are on and I just think there’s too much value to pass up with them in this game. It would be one thing if this line was around a field goal and we basically needed them to win outright. I just don’t think it’s asking a lot for them to keep this within a touchdown.
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I think a lot of people just assume that LSU is going to put it on themselves to put an end to the Knights winning streak. I don’t think that is going to be the case at all. I think it’s really hard for these elite Power 5 teams to give the Group of 5 teams the respect they deserve.
I’m LSU wants to get a win here, but I also think this team has to feel like that all they need to do is show up and they will easily win here. Especially after the injury that will keep McKenzie Milton out of this game.
I think that lack of respect that the Tigers are going to have for UCF is going to allow the Knights to not only hang around and cover the spread, but potentially win this game outright. Keep in mind that the Group of 5 team that has played in the New Year’s Six bowl the last 5 years has gone 4-1 ATS with 4 outright wins.
For those that didn’t watch the AAC title game, UCF’s backup quarterback, Darriel Mack Jr, threw for 348 yards and 2 scores with a ridiculous 12.9 average per attempt. He also ran for 59 yards and 4 scores.
I also think a lot of people aren’t giving the Knights the full respect they deserve because they aren’t suppose to be doing this after losing head coach Scott Frost to Nebraska. Turns out UCF struck gold in new head coach Josh Heupel. I think this team can score on anyone and I know the defense hasn’t been great, but I also think LSU’s offense is a bit limited. Give me the Knights +7.5!