The Beef ‘O’ Brady’s St. Petersburg Bowl is not necessarily a glamorous bowl spot but there are worse venues during the college football bowl season. In this bowl game the University of Central Florida Golden Knights will take on the Ball State Cardinals in the only game being played on Friday December 21.
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This game will feature two teams that have flown under the radar this year but have plenty of talent.
The college football odds for this game opened with Central Florida (-7.5) point favorites but that line has dropped to an even seven points. The line moved because 59 percent of the public is betting on ball State according to the latest college football consensus reports.
UCF could have played in the Liberty Bowl, but they were unable to take down Tulsa as they lost a heartbreaker in overtime. Now as they face Ball State, they will rely on a tough defense to get a bowl victory.
WolverineNation’s Chantel Jennings points out just how intimidating this defense is.
The Knights were a stalwart on defense this season, putting together the conference’s best scoring defense (22.5 points/game), best pass defense (217.8 yards/game) and second best in both total defense (380.2 yards/game) and redzone defense.
The Cardinals counter with an impressive offense. Ball State boasts a dynamic offense that ranks 22nd nationally in total yards and 31st in scoring, and eclipsed 200 rushing yards seven times, including four times in the final five games.
Both teams have had demanding schedules as pointed out by the pigskin report.
Ball State’s biggest win of the year came against the Toledo Rockets, which was the only ranked team that either team defeated at any point during the 2012 season. The Cardinals also hold impressive wins over the Central Michigan Chippewas and Ohio Bobcats.
UCF beat just two other teams who were extended bowl bids in 2012, knocking off the East Carolina Pirates and SMU Mustangs.
Luckily for UCF playing in this bowl game is as close as it gets to playing at home as they will only travel 100 miles to Tropicana Field to play in this bowl game. That is in sharp contrast to Ball State and their lackluster fan base.
The Ball State Cardinal may be excited about going to the bowl game, but the student body seems less than interested.
Only about 50 student tickets have been sold for the Ball State bowl game, and only 18 bus packages.Bus in danger of being cancelled.
— Pat Boylan (@PatBoylanBSU) December 12, 2012
The college football betting trends also favor the Knights in this game. The Knights are 13-5 against the spread (ATS) in their last 18 games following a loss and 5-2 ATS in the last seven games against the MAC.
The Cardinals may have a good offense but they struggle on defense especially against the run where they rank 106th nationally.
This will open up the field for sophomore quarterback Blake Bortles and the rest of the Knights who can move the ball on the ground. Running back Latavius Murray rushed for 1,035 yards rushing and 14 touchdowns this season and he will lead a team that can run the rock.
UCF has five players that have run for at least 162 yards and it has scored 31 touchdowns on the ground – seven by Bortles.
That running game will be impossible to stop for the Cardinals and it will allow UCF to control the clock and the game. The Knights score early and often and this game will get ugly quick.
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