Fiesta Bowl Odds: LSU vs. Central Florida Betting Preview, Pick

OddsShark.com@@OddsSharkFeatured ColumnistDecember 28, 2018

LSU quarterback Joe Burrow (9) passes in the first half of an NCAA college football game against Rice in Baton Rouge, La., Saturday, Nov. 17, 2018. (AP Photo/Gerald Herbert)
Gerald Herbert/Associated Press

Central Florida owns the longest current winning streak in college football at 25 in a row, which includes a 17-7-1 run against the spread. But the Knights still aren't getting the respect they believe they deserve.

For the second straight season, UCF will go into a bowl game as an undefeated underdog when it takes on LSU in the Fiesta Bowl on New Year's Day in Arizona.


College football point spread: The Tigers opened as 10-point favorites, according to sportsbooks monitored by OddsShark. (Line updates and matchup report)

College football betting pick, via OddsShark computer: 36.4-35.2 Knights (College football picks on every game)

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Why the LSU Tigers can cover the spread

The Tigers started 7-1 this season, with wins over Miami, Auburn, eventual SEC East champion Georgia and Mississippi State.

LSU laid an egg in the big game against Alabama but rebounded to win its next two games. The Tigers then lost their regular-season finale in seven overtimes at Texas A&M to finish 5-3 in SEC play, but nonetheless, they are playing in a bowl for the 19th straight season.

LSU played one of the top-five toughest schedules in the country this season, going against eight teams that eventually made bowls, winning five of those games outright and going 5-3 against the spread.

The Tigers aren't exactly known for their offensive prowess, but they hit the 30-point mark seven times this season. Meanwhile, the LSU defense held seven of 12 opponents to 17 points or less.

Why the UCF Knights can cover the spread

Central Florida ran the table again this season, going 4-0 in non-conference play, including a 45-14 victory over eventual ACC Coastal Division champion Pittsburgh.

The Knights then rolled through their AAC slate, beating Memphis, Temple, a pretty good Cincinnati team and South Florida along the way. UCF then rallied from a 17-point second-quarter deficit to beat Memphis in the conference championship game 56-41.

The Knights are back in a bowl for the third straight season.

Central Florida lost starting quarterback McKenzie Milton to a knee injury in the regular-season finale. However, freshman backup Darriel Mack Jr. showed well in that AAC championship match, hitting on 19 of 27 throws for 348 yards and two touchdowns, without an interception, and running the ball for 59 yards and four scores.

In fact, the Knights drove 79, 45, 76, 71 and 82 yards to touchdowns on their five second-half possessions that day. UCF is 5-1 ATS over its last six games and 9-3 ATS on the season.


Smart betting pick

The Knights felt slighted after their perfect season last year then knocked off Auburn in the Peach Bowl. UCF will play this bowl with a big chip on its shoulders, too.

LSU has more talent, but does it have the heart?

The smart money here sides with Central Florida.


College football betting trends

The total has gone UNDER in seven of Central Florida's last nine games.

Central Florida is 8-2 ATS in its last 10 games.

LSU is 1-3 ATS in its last four games.


All college football odds and betting trends according to Bleacher Report's official odds partner, OddsShark. Check out OddsShark on Twitter and Instagram or head to YouTube for more betting picks and analysis on this week's top games. You can also download the free odds tracker app.


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