Fiesta Bowl 2019 Betting Odds, Tips & Picks: UCF vs LSU

Fiesta Bowl 2019 Betting Odds, Tips & Picks: UCF vs LSU

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One team is an upper echelon program in college football, the other is a feisty upstart riding a 25-game winning streak.

The juxtaposition makes for an intriguing Fiesta Bowl matchup for college football betting fans to enjoy when LSU and UCF square off to start the new year. (Jan. 1, 1 p.m. ET, ESPN)

2019 Fiesta Bowl Betting Odds

Although LSU has three more losses than UCF this season, the Tigers are 7.5-point favorites at both 888Sport and SugarHouse. The over/under number has been set at 55.5.

On the season, LSU is 6-6 against the spread and 6-5-1 versus the over-under. The Knights have covered the spread in nine of 12 games this season and are 4-8 versus the spread.

During their 25-game winning streak, the Knights are 17-7-1 against the spread, with only Fresno State and Buffalo better during that stretch. That record includes UCF beating another SEC team, Auburn, in the Peach Bowl last year, with the Knights going into that game as 10.5-point underdogs.

2019 Fiesta Bowl Betting Tips

Missing Milton has Knights as Underdogs

Despite not having a blemish on their record, the Knights again are underdogs when it comes to college bowl betting, in part because they’ll be without star quarterback McKenzie Milton, who suffered a serious leg injury last month versus rival South Florida.

Darriel Mack Jr. stepped in for Milton in the American Athletic Conference championship game against Memphis and after struggling in the first half, finished terrifically. The redshirt freshman accounted for 407 total yards and six touchdowns (four rushing, two passing) in the contest that saw the Knights overcome a 17-point halftime deficit to win 56-41.

Milton and the Knights will be opposing a defense unlike any other they’ve faced this season. The Tigers rank 29th in total defense, allow just 20.9 points per game (22nd best) and their 16 interceptions are the 11th-most in the country.

LSU’s star defender is linebacker Devin White, the SEC's second-leading tackler, and it is his task to slow a UCF rushing attack that is explosive and an offense averaging 44.2 points per game, sixth-best in the country.

The Tigers, however, will be without two of its better defensive backs. Greedy Williams opted out of the Fiesta Bowl to focus on preparing for the NFL draft, while Kristian Fulton underwent surgery on an injured ankle.

But even without Williams and Fulton, the Tigers do have the depth to overcome their absences. Nor will UCF’s up-tempo offense and overall speed be something that catches LSU off-guard, as the Tigers have faced quick-pace similar teams this season.

Tigers’ Offense Should Give UCF Trouble

UCF also has an opportunistic defense that excels at creating turnovers and getting its dynamic offense back on the field. The Knights have 13 fumble recoveries and 13 interceptions on the season, with a plus-14 turnover margin that ranks third nationally.

That unit faces a LSU offense that is among the best at hanging onto the football as the Tigers average less than one turnover per game, with only 10 FBS schools better.

The Knights showed against Memphis they can play from behind, but against a defense as formidable as LSU’s it will be difficult for the Knights to have a repeat of how they started last year’s game against Auburn in the Peach Bowl.

In that contest, UCF began sluggishly with just three points in the first quarter, before scoring 13 points in the second quarter to take a seven-point lead into halftime. If the Knights put themselves in a similar hole in the Fiesta Bowl, LSU has the offense to grind out the clock and limit UCF’s chances on offense.

Who will win Fiesta Bowl 2019?

Expect a close game that is more of a defensive battle than anticipated. But in the end the Tigers depth and physicality is too much, and LSU snaps UCF’s lengthy win streak.

Take LSU to win at -306 outright, though the Tigers fail to cover the -7.5 spread (-110).

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