UCF has had plenty of time to digest its first conference loss and recharge for a run at another possible league crown. That push begins again at home Friday when the Golden Knights renew acquaintances with former Conference USA rival Tulsa, which snapped a seven-game losing streak last weekend. UCF, which went 8-0 to win the American Athletic title last year, had won five straight overall and its first three AAC games before a 37-29 loss at Connecticut on Nov. 1.
UCF, the AAC leader in total defense, allowed 179 yards on the ground and 20 consecutive points in the second half against a Huskies team that had yet to defeat an FBS opponent this season. The Golden Hurricane took advantage of a matchup with winless SMU at home Saturday, riding Dane Evans’ career-high five touchdown passes to a 38-28 triumph. Tulsa has won four straight meetings, including the most recent encounter in the 2012 Conference USA title game.
TV: 8 p.m. ET, ESPN2.
LINE HISTORY: UCF opened as big 18-point home favorites and bettors didn’t think that was enough as the line has risen to UCF -20.5. The total has held steady at 55.
INJURY REPORT: Tulsa – G Billy Lafortune (questionable Friday, undisclosed). UCF – OL Chavis Dickey (questionable Friday, ankle), OL Joey Grant (questionable Friday, shoulder), WR Rannell Hall (questionable Friday, hamstring).
WEATHER REPORT: It will be a clear night at Bright House Networks Stadium with temperatures in the low 60’s at gametime. There will be a nine mile per hour wind gusting towards the south end zone.
WHAT CAPPERS SAY: “Tulsa has been terrible on the road this season. The Golden Hurricane are winless at 0-4 SU (2-2 ATS) with those four losses coming by 29, 25, 11, and 20 point margins. Tulsa’s defense has been non-existent on the road as they are giving up 41.7 points per game on a whopping 7.6 yards per play. Central Florida is a perfect 4-0 SU and 3-1 ATS at home this season with their four wins coming by 34, 7, 7, and 20 points. The Knights’ defense has been outstanding on their home field, allowing an average of just 14.5 points per game on 3.5 yards per play.” – Covers Expert Steve Merril
ABOUT TULSA (2-7, 3-6 ATS, 8-1 O/U): The Golden Hurricane will not appear in a bowl game for the second straight season after earning a berth in seven of the previous eight years, but they have seen Evans lay the foundation for a turnaround. Evans struggled after seizing the starting role as a freshman last year and then threw nine interceptions while posting a 54.6 percent completion rate through his first five games in 2014. He has tossed 10 TDs with zero picks since and has bumped his completion percentage to 56.4 while averaging 302.3 passing yards.
ABOUT UCF (5-3, 4-4 ATS, 4-4 O/U): Several trends are in the favor of the Golden Knights, who have won 12 straight games played on a weekday – including five in a row on Fridays – and 23 consecutive contests that begin at 3 p.m. local time or later. That might not matter a bit if they cannot do a better job of holding on to the football – UCF has turned the ball over 14 times in the past four games, including three contests with four giveaways. Quarterback Justin Holman was the primary culprit against Connecticut, throwing four interceptions.
* Tulsa is 4-0 ATS in the last four meetings.
* Favorite is 6-1 ATS in the last seven meetings.
* Home team is 5-1 ATS in the last six meetings.
* Under is 4-1-1 in the last six meetings.
COVERS CONSENSUS: The consensus is close, with 51 percent of wagers backing UCF as 20.5-point favorite.