The Knights of Central Florida probably have a little more stable coaching situation than their opponents in the American Athletic Conference championship game. And that’s interesting because they are the side that has a coach who has won a national championship before.
Their opponents are the Tulane Green Wave, which ripped through the schedule with a record of 10-2, both straight up and against the spread, but may be losing their own head coach to a job in one of the so-called Power 5 conferences.
We’ll see about all that, but they will meet for the AAC title in New Orleans at 4 PM Eastern time.
Willie Fritz is not necessarily one of those young coaches on the way up. He’s 62 years old, but his effort with this Tulane team has gotten other schools interested, and he was rumored to be headed to Georgia Tech before they elected to hold onto their interim coach, Brent Key.
Gus Malzahn, who won a national championship at Auburn, says he is extremely happy at UCF, which has one of the largest student bodies in the country and is headed to the Big 12 as that conference replaces the departing Texas and Oklahoma programs.
In the college football betting odds that have been posted on the AAC title game, according to the folks at BetOnline, Tulane is the favorite here.
Tulane Green Wave -4 (-107)
UCF Knights +4 (-113)
Over 57 points -115
Under 57 points -105
The big question heading into this game is whether Central Florida would have the services of quarterback John Rhys Plumlee, the Ole Miss transfer who is the dimension on the ground. And the word from Malzahn is that he is likely playing. He was a huge factor when these teams played back on November 12, and he was part of the charge as the Knights rolled up 343 yards on the ground in a 38–31 victory.
What they are looking to do is improve upon that porous rushing defense and minimize mistakes on the offensive side. That is something quarterback Michael Pratt did a very good job of the season, as he was intercepted only four times. Tyjae Spears is the guy who moves the chains, as he averages 6.2 yards per carry. But Tulane has converted only 37.1% of its third down attempts. That is something of a concern.
A couple of things we want to mention about UCF. Even at our most optimistic, we could not necessarily expect that they will duplicate their rushing effort from last time out, and remember that they only won by a touchdown with such a bloated figure. Another thing is that Plumlee is not likely to be 100%. And it was a real scare last week as these guys barely got by a lowly South Florida bunch, having to score a touchdown with 20 seconds remaining to pull out the victory.
Tulane has been the more consistent squad this season, and regardless of whether Fritz takes off for greener pastures, we don’t have much of a problem laying the small number at home.
Coastal Carolina is coming off a 47-7 beating at the hands of James Madison, but they are still in the Sun Belt championship game against the Troy Trojans. There is considerable question about this game because of the status of Coastal’s quarterback, Grayson McCall, who suffered a foot injury and had to sit out against JMU, which is not eligible for this conference title because of being in its first FBS season. This might affect the betting odds and fans need to be alert while betting on football.
The Chanticleers have cut it close this season, winning five games by a touchdown or less. They run the ball 58.7% of the time, but Troy is very tough in that regard, allowing only 3.3 yards per carry. There are some tremendous disparities between these teams defensively. Troy, for example, has yielded 5.9 yards per pass, compared with 8.5 for Coastal.
McCall was originally thought to be out for the year, but now he’s being described as a “game-time decision.” But Troy, with nine straight wins, deserves a lot of consideration. They’re seven-point favorites (with a total of 50 points).
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