UCF bounced back nicely from an unexpected road loss to Connecticut by handily defeating three other teams in the bottom half of the American Athletic Conference. The Knights figure to be challenged a bit more Thursday at East Carolina when they look to claim their share of the conference title. UCF fell to the Huskies 37-29 on Nov. 1 to give UConn its only AAC victory, but has outscored Tulsa, SMU and South Florida by a combined 100-14 in three games since.
The Knights, who boast the league’s best scoring, passing and total defense, are tied with Cincinnati for second in the AAC – one-half game behind Memphis. A two-game losing streak in early November cost the Pirates a shot at the AAC title, but East Carolina figures to pose a formidable threat to UCF as the Pirates feature the conference’s highest-scoring and most prolific offense. East Carolina enters its regular-season finale with back-to-back convincing victories over Tulane and Tulsa, each of whom has two conference wins.
TV: 7:30 p.m. ET, ESPN.
LINE HISTORY: Oddsmakers opened the Pirates as 5 or 5.5-point home faves, but that has moved to -7. The total is currently 56 after opening 54.5 or 55.5
INJURY REPORT: Knights – RB William Stanback (Probable, undisclosed). Pirates – WR Trevon Brown (Out, knee).
WEATHER: Temperatures will be in the mid-40s with wind blowing across the field at 6 mph.
WHAT CAPPERS SAY: “A win by Central Florida lands them into a tie atop the final AAC final standings. A victory by East Carolina vaults them into a tie with the Knights. Thus there are plenty of incentives on both sides. The Pirates will look to improve to 13-1 in their last 14 home games, while UCF rides a 14-1 mark in its last 15 conference games.” Covers Expert Marc Lawrence.
ABOUT UCF (8-3, 6-1 AAC): Although the Knights were held to less than 400 total yards for the first time in five games, Breshad Perriman continued his assault on the Knights’ all-time records. The junior receiver finished with team highs of six receptions, 55 yards and a touchdown, becoming the first UCF player since 2000 to catch a scoring pass in six straight contests. The Knights’ 16-0 shutout of USF last week marked the first time UCF blanked a conference team on the road.
ABOUT EAST CAROLINA (8-3, 5-2): The nation’s third-ranked passing attack continued to get solid production from their ground-game counterparts in Friday’s 49-32 victory at Tulsa with 172 rushing yards, including 91 on six carries from backup running back Chris Hairston. The strong rushing effort gave the Pirates 1,971 rushing yards for the season with two games remaining while leaving them 29 yards shy of their first 2,000-yard season as a team since 2009. Conversely, East Carolina surrendered a season-high 189 yards on the ground to the Golden Hurricane – doubling its season average entering the contest.
* Knights are 4-1 ATS in their last five meetings.
* Knights are 6-0 ATS in their last six Thursday games.
* Pirates are 1-6 ATS in their last seven games overall.
* Under is 7-3 in Knights last 10 conference games.
COVERS CONSENSUS: According to Covers Consensus, 60 percent of bettors are on the Pirates.