The Louisville Cardinals were expected to dominate the remade Big East this season, but it was Central Florida that ended up taking the AAC by storm. The Knights finished the season with an 11-1 record and they were a perfect 8-0 in league play, earning them a conference championship as well as a BCS Bowl berth. UCF is expected to suffer its second loss at the January 1st Fiesta Bowl (8:30pm ET, ESPN), though, as it takes on the sixth ranked Baylor Bears. The opening Fiesta Bowl Betting Line 2014 has the surprise Big 12 champion listed as a -17 college football odds favorite.
No. 15 Central Florida Knights vs No. 6 Baylor Bears (-17): Like UCF, Baylor was expected to be a good/improved team this season, but few envisioned Art Briles’ squad as this year’s Big 12 champion. Baylor needed some help from Oklahoma on the final regular season weekend in order to secure its conference title, but it put itself in position to capitalize on the Sooners gift by blazing through eight of its nine league opponents.
While the Bears offense generates all the headlines, and deservedly so, it was the progression of its defense that allowed the team to take a big step forward this year. Baylor allowed just 21.2 points per game and an incredible 4.53 yards per play (sixth best average in the FBS) in realizing its dream of a conference championship.
The only team the Bears failed to keep sufficiently in check was Mike Gundy’s Oklahoma State Cowboys. The Pokes spoiled Baylor’s perfect record as well as its national championship aspirations with a 49-17 win at Boone Pickens Stadium in Stillwater. Three Bears’ turnovers certainly aided Oklahoma State’s cause, but Baylor also allowed a stunning 16.3 yards per pass in the loss.
UCF also used a solid blend of offense and defense in achieving its impressive record and conference title, but it had a few more close calls along the way than its Fiesta Bowl counterpart. The Knights defeated Penn State, Memphis, Louisville, Houston, Temple, South Florida, and SMU all by seven of fewer points. Aside from its 38-35 win at Louisville, Central Florida’s signature moment may have actually come in defeat as it fell 25-28 to No. 9 South Carolina in Orlando.
Notable Trends: Baylor is 7-0 straight up and 5-2 against the spread in its last seven games as a favorite with a spread between 14 and 17.5 points.
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Fiesta Bowl Betting Line 2014: Provided by CarbonSports.ag
No. 15 Central Florida Knights +17 (-110)
No. 6 Baylor Bears -17 (-110)