Betting angles for Gasparilla Bowl, Frisco Football Classic

Two of VSiN college football experts offer their advice on Thursday’s bowls.

Gasparilla Bowl — UCF vs. Florida (-7, 56.5)

Little Brother vs. Big Brother games are always fun during the bowl season and we’ve got one here between UCF and Florida. Gus Malzahn leads the Knights against an interim head coach in Greg Knox, who was in the same role when Dan Mullen took the Florida job and left Mississippi State prior to the 2017 TaxSlayer Bowl. Knox led the Bulldogs to a win over Lamar Jackson and Louisville in that one.

The Gators have already named a new head coach in Billy Napier and it looks as though Anthony Richardson will be next year’s starting quarterback, as Emory Jones has announced his intentions to enter the transfer portal after the Gasparilla Bowl. That has to create an uncomfortable situation for Jones, even though Richardson is out after undergoing knee surgery.

Florida’s issues ran deep on the defensive side of the ball, especially late in the season with 5.82 yards per play allowed in four November games. UCF was an offense that ripped off over 6 yards per play, though the team did play at a slower tempo than what we saw from Josh Heupel, as the Knights only ran 791 offensive plays. Will they speed up a bit here to attack what is clearly a weakness for the Gators?

UCF’s defense actually fared quite well this season in the AAC and the team should have had a better record by yards per play differential than what actually took place. The Knights were actually a top-25 defense by yards per play. However, they allowed just 4.27 yards per play in their eight wins and 6.39 yards per play in their four losses, including 6.6 yards per play in one game against a Power Five opponent. It was a feast-or-famine defense that played the 101st-ranked schedule per Sagarin.

I’m expecting points in this game. Florida’s defense is suspect and UCF’s defensive numbers have been propped up by shutting down really poor offenses. Florida, even with some opt-outs and uncertainty, is the best offense UCF has faced this season outside of Cincinnati, which put up 56 points.

Burke’s pick: Over 56.5.

Brett Gabbert
AP

Frisco Football Classic — North Texas vs. Miami (Ohio) (-3, 54.5)

North Texas started the season 1-6 and coach Seth Littrell was firmly on the hot seat. The Mean Green rallied to 6-6 and ended up 9-3 ATS.

With an opportunity to reach the MAC Championship game in the season finale, Miami fell to Kent State, 48-47 in overtime. The Redhawks’ offensive strength is its passing game led by QB Brett Gabbert (Blaine’s younger brother), who threw for 2,412 yards with 24 touchdowns. They finished 33rd in the country in passing efficiency while the North Texas defense finished 98th in passing defense efficiency.

While the Mean Green might struggle to slow down Miami through the air, the Redhawks will have a difficult time controlling North Texas on the ground. The Mean Green finished third in the nation with 245.2 rushing yards per game and had 340 vs. UTSA. RB DeAndre Torrey finished with 1,215 rushing yards and 13 touchdowns while RB Ikaike Ragsdale went for over 100 yards in three of the last four games of the season. Miami allowed 150.3 rushing yards per game, including 303 yards to Kent State.

Frisco is only 23 miles away from the North Texas campus. Miami went 5-0 SU at home this year but 1-6 (2-5 ATS) away from Oxford, Ohio. In this situation, I will ride with the team that has won five straight, a dominant run game and is playing a de facto home game.

Murray’s pick: North Texas +3.