The Daily Sweat: UCF heads to Louisville as a 6.5-point favorite

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There are a couple of intriguing college football games to bet on Friday night.

Louisiana kicked off Week 3 with a win over Ohio on Thursday night. The second act on Friday includes UCF at Louisville (7:30 p.m. ET, ESPN) and Maryland at Illinois (9 p.m. ET, FS1) before everyone else plays on Saturday.

Let’s focus on UCF and Louisville first. The Knights are favored by 6.5 points on the road and the total is 67.5. That’s one of the highest totals of the weekend as both teams have scored at least 24 points in their first two games of the season.

This line feels predominantly set on the teams’ Week 1 performances after each blew out an FCS team in Week 2. UCF came back from a 21-point deficit to beat Boise State 36-31 to start the season while Louisville lost 43-24 to Ole Miss on Labor Day.

The Ole Miss offense ripped apart Louisville’s defense in that game and it’s hard not to see UCF doing much of the same after it had 573 yards against the Broncos. And if Louisville is going to keep up, the offense has to play better than it did against the Rebels.

Malik Cunningham left the pocket a lot against Ole Miss as the Louisville offense struggled to get traction until the game was out of reach in the fourth quarter. Cunningham threw 37 passes for just 191 yards. The key to Louisville’s offense is its run game and UCF has done a fantastic job stopping it so far. Boise State rushed for 20 yards in Week 1 and Bethune-Cookman rushed for 24 in Week 2.

We think Louisville will be able to run the ball more effectively than any UCF opponent has so far. But it won’t be enough. As long as this line stays under seven points, take the Knights.

Just northwest in Champaign, Illinois, The Illini are hosting their second Big Ten home game of the season. Illinois opened the season and Bret Bielema’s tenure with a big win over Nebraska in Week 0. Illinois then lost at home to UTSA and was blown out on the road at Virginia in Week 2.

Maryland (-7) is 2-0 after beating West Virginia to start the season. Like UCF, the Terps are holding up against the run so far this season. Illinois’ offense is focused around the run game, though QB Brandon Peters should be back in the starting lineup. Peters had to exit the Nebraska game in the first half with a left shoulder injury. But he’s set to return against Maryland.

We feel that Illinois could be prime for a bounce back after two disappointing weekends. But we don’t trust the line on this one at all. The safer play feels like the under. Even with Peters back, 61.5 seems like a lot of points.

EPL weekend begins Friday

The European soccer calendar is in full swing this fall. There’s been a major soccer game every weekday this week, thanks to the Champions League and Europa League kicking off. Friday features Newcastle and Leeds (3 p.m. ET, NBCSN) to begin the season’s fifth weekend of EPL matches.

Newcastle is +195 to win at home while Leeds is the favorite at +130. Leeds should get the win, though we wouldn’t be stunned if this game ends in a tie. Newcastle is going to be on the back foot against Leeds’ attacking style but could strike on the counter-attack.

Prime-time PGA Tour

The PGA Tour’s 2021-22 season is officially underway with the Fortinet Championship. Chez Reavie took the lead after the first round at 7-under. He’s the favorite to win the tournament at +1000.

Jon Rahm is the biggest name in the field and he shot a round of even-par 72 on Thursday as he recovers from a stomach issue. Rahm is still the No. 3 favorite at +1600. We wouldn’t recommend betting Rahm — he’s only up there because of his name recognition.

You have plenty of time to get in on the PGA action on Friday. The tournament is in Northern California so tee times are later than normal. You can watch coverage of the final three rounds at 6 p.m. ET Friday, Saturday and Sunday on the Golf Channel.

Who cashed bets on Thursday?

The 31% of bettors who had the Washington Football team on the money line were happy after Dustin Hopkins made a game-winning field goal after an offsides penalty gave him another chance. WFT beat the New York Giants 30-29, so anyone who had the Giants +3.5 points was able to cash those tickets. The over easily hit with a paltry 40.5 as the total.

It was a nice day to bet teams in the AL West. The Angels, A’s and Astros all won on Thursday and covered the spreads. The over was easily hit in Philadelphia as well with the Phillies and Cubs combining for 26 runs in Philly’s 17-8 win.

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