The Central Florida Golden Knights won’t have to travel very far for their bowl game this season, but Ball State won’t care that it has to make its way to the Sunshine State.
2012 St. Petersburg Bowl –
Ball State Cardinals vs. Central Florida Golden Knights – Friday, December 21
College football betting line: Central Florida -7
Why Ball State Will Win
Any credible college football online sports book expert worth his keep would tell you that this game has a very good chance to be a nail-biter, one in which Ball State can and will cover the spread, possibly winning the game outright.
Online football betting gurus know that Ball State was the surprise team in the Mid-American Conference’s West Division in 2012, the team that not only performed well in league play but stepped outside the conference and played well in unfamiliar surroundings. The Cardinals picked up non-conference wins over Army, Indiana, and South Florida, while also beating both Ohio and Toledo in league play.
Jahwan Edwards is the team’s big playmaker. He ran for over 1,300 yards on the season to accompany 14 touchdown runs. While the passing game put up average numbers nationally, wide receiver Willie Snead did top 1,000 yards on the season with seven scores to add a threat in the passing game. The Cardinals did a solid job all year of finishing drives as well. They converted 85 percent of their red zone drives into points and 71 percent of their red zone scores were a touchdown. This covered a multitude of sins on the defensive side of the field for coach Pete Lembo’s lads. Only 18 teams in America were better at converting third downs as Ball State as well, a good indicator of a team which can sustain drives, as opposed to the quick-strike offenses seen around college football that are common among high-scoring teams. Ball State has not lost since early October, and with the Cardinals’ only three losses coming to top 25 teams, they should be ready for Central Florida, even though this game – played in St. Petersburg, Fla. – could amount to a road game for David Letterman’s alma mater.
Why Central Florida Will Win
When you go over your next play at any of the best online betting sites in the country, you should be able to come to the conclusion that for the Central Florida Golden Knights, the key is a solid run game and a tough defense. They’re led by a three-headed backfield of Latavius Murray, Storm Johnson, and – to a lesser extent – Brynn Harvey. While Murray is the leader of the pack, all three have carried about 50 times and are used throughout the game in a number of ways. The Knights’ defense, which has been a top 30 unit most of the season, has held six opponents to 20 points or fewer.
The Knights competed in non-conference games against Missouri and Ohio State and have appeared to be too much for most of their Conference USA counterparts to handle, even if the league hasn’t matched up to its usual respectable level. The Golden Knights have also had success on third down, ranking in the top 20 nationally on third down conversion percentage. While they may not have any eye-popping statistics like some high-powered offenses do, they know what their strengths are and they play to them. They don’t beat themselves, either. As one of the most disciplined teams in the country, it stands to reason that Central Florida is one of the nation’s least penalized teams. Ball State will have to beat UCF not by getting mistakes from the Knights, but by being better than them. This will be an uphill battle for the Cardinals.
Who Will Win?
Central Florida has not been a particularly impressive team this season. The Golden Knights have won the games they’re supposed to win, but against better or equally talented teams, they’ve fallen short. Ball State is not the same team it was in the first six weeks of the season. The Cardinals will enter this game with a world of confidence, and that should enable them to play their best. Ball State will pull the upset here.
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College Football Betting Pick: Ball State +7