The Miami Hurricanes and the UCF Knights both want to make more of a name for themselves in the state of Florida. They’ll both have a chance to make major statements in prime time, with all other college football fans (and plenty of potential recruits) watching on television with no competing games on the dial.
Miami Hurricanes @ North Carolina Tar Heels
Thursday, 7:30 PM ET
Odds: Miami -9.5
This game is one that should go in Miami’s direction but the ACC Coastal Division has typically been full of surprises in the recent past. The ACC Coastal manages to wind its way to the end of the regular season with a lot of teams bunched together. This is because the teams with a chance to pull away in the division usually squander a game they are expected to win. Miami is the team here with a chance to consolidate a favorable position in the Coastal, but the Hurricanes have to deal with a night game on the road against an opponent that might be angry enough to play well.
North Carolina has been one of the most disappointing teams in major college football betting this season. Harmed a bit by injuries, the Tar Heels have nevertheless failed to play anywhere close to their capabilities, particularly on the defensive side of the ball. North Carolina has been thoroughly embarrassed by the way this season has progressed. The Tar Heels could decide that enough is enough and summon a mighty effort against Miami. All in all, North Carolina should indeed be motivated for this game, but can motivation cover up the Tar Heels’ many weaknesses? Miami, specifically running back Duke Johnson, has too much speed and overall quality for North Carolina. The Hurricanes might struggle in the first half, but they should be able to find their stride and excel in the second.
Pick: Miami -9.5
UCF Knights @ Louisville Cardinals
Friday, 8:05 PM ET
Odds: Louisville -13
This game could be very close, not just because Louisville struggled in its previous prime-time game against Rutgers last Thursday, but also because UCF is a better team than Rutgers, one that should be able to finish drives and score a lot more points. UCF quarterback Blake Bortles represents a substantial upgrade over Rutgers quarterback Gary Nova. If Bortles avoids turnovers, UCF has the speed on the edges to expose Louisville’s defense to a greater extent. The Knights would force Louisville’s offense to perform at a much higher level. The Cardinals were average on offense (if that) against Rutgers, missing multiple opportunities to score touchdowns in the red zone while also misfiring on a number of long passes. Louisville’s special teams fared poorly against Rutgers as well, flubbing two field goals. If Louisville is not substantially better than it was against Rutgers, UCF could win this game outright. As it is, expect Louisville to play better and win… but not cover the spread. UCF should be able to stay close enough to cover the number, even though Louisville should remain unbeaten.
Pick: UCF +13