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UCF vs. UConn: Betting Odds, Prediction and How to Watch

Joseph Zucker@@JosephZuckerFeatured ColumnistAugust 30, 2018

Central Florida quarterback McKenzie Milton (10) looks for a receiver as he is pressured by Connecticut defensive lineman Folorunso Fatukasi (93) during the second half of an NCAA college football game, Saturday, Nov. 11, 2017, in Orlando, Fla. Central Florida won 49-24. (AP Photo/John Raoux)
John Raoux/Associated Press

College football fans are hours away from one of the most buzzworthy rivalries in the sport, and it's only the opening week of the 2018 season.

The Connecticut Huskies host the No. 21 UCF Knights on Thursday for another entry in a legendary duel that dates all the way back to 2015 and included a trophy nobody seemed to want and has since disappeared. Here's all of the info you need to catch the 2018 installment of the Civil Conflict.

    

UCF vs. UConn Viewing Info and Betting Odds

When: Thursday at 7 p.m. ET

Watch: ESPNU

Live Stream: WatchESPN

Betting Line: UCF -24 (via OddsShark)

   

Preview

UCF went unbeaten a year ago, defeating the Auburn Tigers in the Peach Bowl to finish 13-0. The Knights even received formal NCAA recognition as a national champion after finishing first in the Colley-Matrix.

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The team had to replace head coach Scott Frost, who returned to his alma mater in December when he accepted the Nebraska Cornhuskers' coaching job. In his place stepped Josh Heupel, who was most recently the Missouri Tigers' offensive coordinator.

While Heupel is unproven as a head coach, he has a number of key stars returning from last year's team, including leading passer McKenzie Milton.

Milton threw for 4,037 yards and 37 touchdowns and ran for another 613 yards and eight scores as a sophomore in 2017. According to OddsShark, Milton opens the 2018 campaign with +3500 odds of winning the Heisman Trophy.

UCF's status as a Group of Five school will make it tough for Milton to seriously enter the Heisman discussion, but that doesn't change the fact he's among the top quarterbacks in FBS.

Matt Hinton @MattRHinton

The absence of an obvious Heisman-level QB, and who will emerge to fill the void, is one of the most interesting subplots of the season. But McKenzie Milton has to be in the conversation. https://t.co/WifCTFIUDG

Although the Knights are going on the road for their first game with a new head coach, it's hard to see any way UConn pulls off the upset, and Milton is a big reason why.

The Huskies were last in passing yards allowed in 2017, surrendering 330.9 yards per game, and they were 121st in S&P+ pass defense, per Football Outsiders.

Compounding matters, Tyler Coyle is the only returning starter in the secondary, which is a theme for the entire defense.

Alex Putterman @AlexPutterman

Here’s UConn’s full week-one depth chart. 10 freshmen starters, including six true freshmen. At times, UConn’s most experienced defensive player on the field will be a sophomore. https://t.co/GICYME4U2U

UCF's leading receiver, Tre'Quan Smith, declared for the 2018 NFL draft and was a third-round pick of the New Orleans Saints.

However, Dredrick Snelson returns after catching 46 passes for 695 yards and eight touchdowns, and the NCAA allowed Tre Nixon to suit up immediately for the Knights after transferring from Ole Miss. Nixon was a 4-star recruit and the No. 35 wide receiver nationally in 2016, per 247Sports' composite rankings.

Add in Gabriel Davis (391 receiving yards and four touchdowns as a true freshman) and UCF should once again have a prolific aerial attack.

UConn lost a lot of starters from a team that only won three games in 2017. The Huskies sit 120th in ESPN.com's Football Power Index and media members predicted they'll finish fifth in the AAC's East division.

Even if UCF regresses from the heights of last season, UConn's defense won't slow down Milton and the Knights offense. UCF gets 2018 off on the right foot with a convincing road win over the Huskies.

Prediction: UCF 42, UConn 20

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