Boca Raton Bowl Betting Preview: Cougars Look to Capture 11th Win of Season

BYU harbored hopes of reaching a college football New Year’s Six bowl late in the season, but a late loss knocked the Cougars out of contention. Still, it has been a great season for BYU, and they can end it with an 11th win if they can defeat UCF in the Boca Raton Bowl on Tuesday. The game between the 10-1 Cougars and the 6-3 Knights kicks off at 7 pm ET on ESPN. BYU is favored by a touchdown at Bovada, and the total for the matchup is set at 72.

This is the first time since 2011 that BYU has won at least ten games, while a win would give them their first 11-win season since 2009. Meanwhile, while UCF may wonder what their season could have been were it not for close losses to Tulsa, Memphis, and Cincinnati, a win over an excellent BYU team would be a nice way to finish 2020.

Here’s a look at the two teams and the factors that could be vital for the game and for bettors.

UCF Knights Betting News & Notes

UCF was ranked inside the top 15 early in the season and harbored their own New Year’s Six hopes, but the Knights lost back-to-back games against Tulsa and Memphis to knock themselves out of contention for a New Year’s Six bowl and the AAC title.

The offense certainly has not been the issue, as the Knights once again put up big numbers. UCF is second in the FBS in yards per game (585.6) and fifth in points per game (44.3). Sophomore quarterback Dillon Gabriel has had another big season, completing 61.7 percent of his passes for 3,353 yards and 30 touchdowns. Gabriel has thrown only four interceptions in 368 attempts. On the ground, UCF averages 212.6 yards per game, which is 25th in FBS. Duo Greg McCrae (681 yards, 9 TDs, 5.2 yards per carry) and Otis Anderson (614 yards, 4 TDs, 5.6 YPC) have both had productive seasons, with McCrae posting three 100-yard games and Anderson one.

Where the Knights have lacked is on the other side of the ball, as they allow 31.4 points and 473.7 yards per game. The latter total ranks 117th out of the 127 FBS teams. Those defensive issues cost them dearly in their losses, as they coughed up fourth-quarter leads in all three. Most notably, they were ahead by two touchdowns with under 13 minutes left at Memphis but lost 50-49.

BYU Cougars Betting News & Notes

Where UCF lacks is BYU’s biggest strength. The Cougars have had one of the nation’s best defenses this season, ranking third in points allowed per game (14.6) and ninth in yards allowed per game (309.5). BYU has been solid against both the pass and the run, as they allow only 195.7 passing yards per game and 113.8 rushing yards per game. BYU’s defense has allowed over 400 yards only once this season, in a 43-26 win over another AAC opponent, Houston. Their numbers against the run would be even better had they not allowed 450 rushing yards in their last two games against Coastal Carolina and San Diego State.

While the defense has been fantastic, the offense has been as well. The Cougars are sixth among FBS team in points per game (43.0) and eighth in yards per game (510.1). Leading the way is junior quarterback Zach Wilson, who is being projected as an early pick in the 2021 NFL Draft. Wilson has completed 73.2 percent

of his passes for 3,267 yards and 30 touchdowns. Like Gabriel, he has made few mistakes, throwing only three interceptions in 302 attempts. Wilson has been productive with his legs as well, rushing for 242 yards and finding the end zone eight times.

On the ground, the Cougars are led by sophomore Tyler Allgeier. Allgeier enters the Boca Raton Bowl with a 1,000 yard season in his sights, having rushed for 957 yards and 12 touchdowns this season. Allgeier has not been a workhorse, as his season high for carries is 19. But he has made the most of his carries, averaging 7.3 yards per carry and has scored at least one touchdown in all but one game. Allgeier comes into the bowl game with five 100-yard games this year, including three in a row before he missed the regular-season finale against San Diego State. Allgeier’s status for the bowl game is uncertain, but if he is limited or unable to play, the touches will go to Lopini Katoa. Katoa has been productive in his touches this season, rushing for 423 yards and five touchdowns (5.5 yards per carry) and catching 19 passes for 203 yards and two touchdowns.

Boca Raton Betting Odds & Information

Spread: UCF +7 (-110), BYU -7 (-110)

Moneyline: UCF +215, BYU +260

Total: Over 72 (-110), Under 72 (-110)

Odds via Bovada

Key Trends & Stats

  • BYU has allowed 20 or more points only three times this season. No opponent has scored more than 26 points against the Cougars.
  • BYU has scored 40 or more points eight times this season. That includes four games with 50+ points.
  • UCF has scored 30+ points in all games but one, their 34-26 loss to Tulsa on October 3. The Knights have scored 40+ points six times and have topped the 50-point mark three times.
  • The Knights have allowed 30+ points five times this season. In their last two games, they’ve allowed 82 points, 36 to Cincinnati in a loss and 46 to South Florida in a 58-46 win.
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Ryan
A sports enthusiast, Ryan helps cover sports betting news from around the country, highlighting some of the more interesting events going on in the USA.