Central Florida has won 18 consecutive games.
The Knights have not fallen backward after replacing coach Scott Frost with Josh Heupel, who loves to run up the score against bad defenses.
And that’s just what Memphis features.
The Tigers normally can win high-scoring games and rely on forcing some timely turnovers. But teams have shown a willingness to let quarterback Brady White throw the ball wherever he wants while selling out to stop running back Darrell Henderson, who should top 1,000 rushing yards for the season on Saturday.
If Central Florida (favored by 4½ points) can make Memphis one-dimensional, and scores in the 40s, it may be able to win by double digits.
The Tigers are in danger of a third American Athletic Conference loss, while the Knights have their sights set on another New Year’s Six game and a high ranking in the College Football Playoff poll.
Duke (+3) over GEORGIA TECH: The Blue Devils are coming off their first loss of the season and then a bye, so some are forgetting how well they played for most of September. Speaking of the bye, it probably helped Duke QB Daniel Jones and a number of other players with lingering injuries. Georgia Tech’s offense worked really well the last two weeks, but that was against Bowling Green and a beleaguered Louisville. Duke has won this game three of the last four years. The Blue Devils defense is good against the run and very good on standard downs, and if it can make TaQuon Marshall throw, it will win outright.
Florida (-7) over VANDERBILT: The Commodores beat a ranked Kansas State in 2017, almost beat Notre Dame this season and have been handling business against Group of 5 teams the last few years. But Vanderbilt is on a 1-9 ATS slide against Southeastern Conference competition. Florida is 5-1 ATS under Dan Mullen, and ranks 11th in defensive S&P+ ratings. The Gators are capable of blanketing receiver Kalija Lipscomb, and that should be enough to grind the Commodores’ offense to a halt. Florida is full of confidence right now, and Mullen is creative enough as a play-caller to take advantage of the Gators’ athletes.
Texas A&M (-2) over SOUTH CAROLINA: The Gamecocks were extremely fortunate to beat Missouri last week, as a monsoon broke out in Columbia, South Carolina, during the middle of the game. South Carolina got outgained 490-377 and had two fewer scoring opportunities, but won. The Gamecocks do get starting QB Jake Bentley back from injury in this game, but Texas A&M is a better team than Missouri, and the forecast is better. Depending on how you gather injury information, South Carolina has as many as 17 players hurt, even if more than a handful of those will play.
IOWA STATE (+6½) over West Virginia: The Cyclones have played at Iowa, vs. Oklahoma, at Texas Christian and at Oklahoma State, with an average margin of minus 4.3 points. Last week they inserted freshman quarterback Brock Purdy, and he carved up the Cowboys on 18 of 23 passing for 318 yards and four touchdowns while also rushing for 84 yards. West Virginia’s 3-3-5 defense has not faced a team as physical as Iowa State and ranks 47th in defensive S&P+ against a weak schedule. Don’t be surprised if the Cyclones pull off back-to-back upsets.
Last week: 2-2-1 ATS
Christopher Smith of AL.com, NOLA.com and MyBookie is providing college football analysis for the Las Vegas Review-Journal. Follow @cfblocksmith on Twitter.