Rutgers-UCF: St. Petersburg Bowl Preview

Vernon CroyCorrespondent IApril 3, 2017

Jim McIsaac/Getty Images

NCAA Football Betting: St. Petersburg Bowl Preview

  • St. Petersburg Bowl Saturday Dec. 19
  • Rutgers Scarlet Knights vs. Central Florida Knights
  • College Football Lines : Rutgers -2.5


Rutgers: The Week That Was

The Scarlet Knights mounted a late and furious rally against West Virginia, but came up short in a 24-21 home loss to the Mountaineers. Rutgers fell behind 21-3 early in the third quarter before storming back to slice West Virginia’s lead to just three points with 8:31 left in regulation time.

For a while, it looked as though coach Greg Schiano’s squad was going to pull off the comeback, but quarterback Tom Savage and the rest of a struggling offense couldn’t produce the scoring drive the team needed in the final minutes of play.

West Virginia’s J.T. Thomas picked off Savage with 1:59 remaining to deal Rutgers its fourth loss of the season. Ultimately, sportsbook oddsmakers know that the offensive side of the ball killed the Scarlet Knights.

Central Florida: The Week That Was

Sports handicapping experts saw the Knights complete their regular season with a 34-27 win at Alabama-Birmingham on Nov. 28. UCF might have been out-gained by 92 total yards (527-435), but that was largely a by-product of the fact that the Knights forged a 31-14 lead in the third quarter.

UAB and quarterback Joe Webb (459 all-purpose yards) might have moved the ball up and down the field, but losing teams will rack up big yardage totals when trailing by a sizeable margin late in a game.

Central Florida established firm control of this contest behind a balanced attack that featured 130 rushing yards from tailback Brynn Harvey and 230 passing yards from quarterback Brett Hodges. UCF maintained a two-possession lead until the final few minutes of regulation.


Central Florida: The Week That Is

With this game being played in the Sunshine State, Central Florida has snapped up its allotment of tickets for the St. Petersburg Bowl. At least 14,000 UCF fans are expected to file inside Tropicana Field—a domed stadium—for a Saturday evening slugfest.

If the Knights (formerly called the Golden Knights, which would have made these teams’ nicknames more distinctive) can keep pace with the Scarlet Knights of Rutgers deep into the fourth quarter, the crowd could carry them to the finish line first.

However, the verdict here is that Rutgers has better playmakers. Savage—who threw a pick-six in the season-ending loss to West Virginia—is still better than Hodges. Rutgers receiver Tim Brown is the best athlete on either offensive squad.

The Big East might not be great, but it’s better than Conference USA. Expect Rutgers to fly down to St. Petersburg and paint the town red…or more specifically, scarlet. Rutgers wins this “Knight Fight” by a 30-16 score.


Bookmaker Review Betting Pick: Rutgers -2.5


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