- The PlayStation Fiesta Bowl pits #11 LSU vs #8 Central Florida.
- The Knights haven’t lost since 2016 but now face one of the toughest defenses in the country.
- What are the odds UCF continues its unbeaten streak minus starting QB McKenzie Milton?
The 2019 Fiesta Bowl (1:00 PM ET, Jan. 1st, Glendale, AZ) between the #11 LSU Tigers and #8 UCF Knights may go down in the annals of history as the auxiliary national championship game.
Just like last year, the Knights enter bowl season unbeaten. Yet, just like last year, they were passed over for a spot in the College Football Playoff. If they beat LSU in the Fiesta Bowl, expect the similarities to go one step further and for the Knights to lay claim to another national championship.
National Champions. Deal with it. 😎 pic.twitter.com/rAduAAWnkO
— UCF Football (@UCF_Football) January 10, 2018
Find the early odds, statistical comparison, and best bet below.
2019 Fiesta Bowl Odds
Date: 1:00 PM ET, Jan. 1st
Location: State Farm Stadium, Glendale, AZ
|LSU Tigers (#11)||-7.0 (-115)||-290||O 55.0 (-115)|
|Central Florida Knights (#8)||+7.0 (-105)||+240||U 55.0 (-105)|
*Odds from Bovada.
The Tigers opened as sizable touchdown favorites against the perfect-so-far Knights. The main reason why the spread is so big is the absence of UCF star QB McKenzie Milton, who was injured during the second-last game of the season against South Florida. Viewer discretion is advised.
Praying for Mackenzie Milton. Hate to see a great player like him go down with an injury like this. ✊🏼🙇♂️ pic.twitter.com/SCzImkRIav
— white chocolate⚪🍫 (@masonweiss618) November 24, 2018
Backup Darriel Mack Jr. stepped in for the AAC title game against Memphis, and it didn’t start well. Mack lost two fumbles in the first half and the Knights trailed by 17 at the break.
But boy, did it get better from there.
UCF scored five touchdowns on five drives in the second stanza, while the defense held high-powered Memphis to just a field goal. In the end, UCF won it going away, 56-41.
Mack finished with 348 yards and two TDs on 19/27 passing, while adding another 59 yards and four more touchdowns on the ground.
It was what you might call a “breakout game.”
LSU vs UCF Statistical Comparison
|LSU Tigers||Statistic||UCF Knights|
|9-3 (6-6 ATS)||Record||12-0 (9-3 ATS)|
|20.9||Points Allowed Per Game||21.3|
|43.5% (12th)||F/+ Combined Rating||48.2% (7th)|
|14.8 (15th)||S&P+ Rating||19.6 (8th)|
|5th||Strength of Schedule||72nd|
The season ended very differently for LSU. They reached as high as #5 in the polls, but then dropped two of their last four. In Week 9, they were waxed 29-0 by top-ranked Alabama, effectively ending their own playoff hopes. Then, in Week 12, they lost one of the craziest games in college football history, falling 74-72 at Texas A&M in seven overtimes.
HISTORIC GAME IN COLLEGE STATION!
No. 22 Texas A&M upsets No. 7 LSU in 7-OT in the highest scoring game in FBS history. pic.twitter.com/F3ezxMA0rR
— ESPN (@espn) November 25, 2018
In the Tigers setbacks, scoring was the issue. They couldn’t crack 20 in their loss at Florida (27-19), totaling just over 370 yards of offense. In their home shoutout against Alabama, they only mustered 196 yards of offense.
They scored 31 in regulation time against the Aggies, and then added 41 in extra frames.
For this team to cover a touchdown spread, they’ll need their defense (which sits 12th in the FEI ratings) to be at its best.
Central Florida +7.0 is the play. Not only has this team won 25 straight games, they took down #7 Auburn in the Peach Bowl (34-27) last year and will be facing an LSU defense that is missing several key players (Greedy Williams, Ed Alexander).
Mack is a step down from Milton, for certain, but he acquitted himself nicely in the AAC title game, and LSU will have very limited tape to watch on the freshman.