Kent State is a +37 point underdog at Caesars(-110), while PointsBet has a 58.5 total for -110.
Kent State in Rebuilding Mode
Kent State was decimated when Head Coach Sean Lewis left to become offensive coordinator at Colorado. That move caused a chain of events that left the Flashes without a single starter returning from the offense, a new head coach in Kenni Burns, and a defense with four starters returning.
Purdue transfer Michael Alaimo is likely starting at quarterback on Thursday, but the significant threat will be running back Xavier Williams, who will be the focal point of the offense. Williams missed all of 2022 with a hip injury but scampered for 812 yards and three touchdowns on 125 attempts. They’ll work behind a brand-new offensive line filled with transfers, which should be a work in progress.
The Golden Flashes weren’t a good defense last season but return four starters, including nickelback CJ Harris. Harris should anchor what appears to be a decent defensive secondary, with transfer students attempting to fill the void for the remainder of the defense.
UCF Enters Big 12 Conference
UCF begins its first season of Big 12 Conference play, and they return six starters on offense and six defensive starters from their nine-win 2022 season.
Quarterback John Rhys Plumlee threw for 2586 passing yards with 10 touchdown passes last season and has a solid wideout in Javon Baker. Where the Knights will do damage is on the ground–Plumlee led the team in rushing, and RJ Harvey is expected to outproduce his 796 yards from last season. They’ll work behind a rebuilt offensive line with just a pair of returnees but also have TE Alec Holler returning as a top receiving and decent blocking option.
Ricky Barber and Tre’Mon Morris Brash will lead a UCF defensive line that should be the strength of this team. Linebacker Jason Johnson led the team in tackles last season, and the defensive backfield could wind up with plenty of interceptions if the defensive line can muddy up some quarterbacks.
Kent State Golden Flashes vs. UCF Knights Betting Preview
This game features two very ground attacks, and my best is for Kent State to cover the +37 points (-110) at Caesars Ohio.
I don’t doubt that UCF will win this game, but 37 points is too many to lay for this game.
The UCF offense should be solid, and its strength will be running the football. They’ll move the chains behind Plumlee and Harvey, but throwing the football may not be that simple a thing against Harris and the strength of the Golden Flashes defense.
Kent State is like a brand-new team. The new coaching staff and new players will take time to gel, particularly on offense, as Burns and his staff will need to replace all 11 starters. Kent State should be able to run the football a bit with Williams, and the Flashes could put something together and score points against a defense with question marks of their own.
Finally, this game will likely be over by halftime. The Knights are in a much better position than Kent State is to win this game, but the Golden Flashes have just enough on both sides of the ball to find a way to cover the spread as +37 point underdogs.
Phil’s Best Bet: Kent State +37 -110 at Caesars
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