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UCF vs Duke Prediction, Odds and College Football Betting Picks for Military Bowl

The first of four college football bowl games scheduled for Wednesday pits the UCF Knights against the Duke Blue Devils in the Military Bowl. Both teams put together strong seasons in their respective conferences. However, the slew of transfer portal entrants on the UCF side has slightly clouded the outlook of this bowl game. Due to these personnel concerns, the UCF vs Duke odds and college football betting picks have tabbed the ACC representative as the favorite.

The following game preview provides the college football betting odds, trends and FEI Index ratings before sharing our official UCF vs Duke prediction for the Military Bowl matchup.

UCF vs Duke Prediction | College Football Betting Picks

Military Bowl
UCF Knights (9-4, 6-2 AAC) vs. Duke Blue Devils (8-4, 5-3 ACC)
Date: Wednesday, December 28, 2022
Time: 2 p.m. EST
Venue: Navy-Marine Corps Memorial Stadium — Annapolis, MD
Coverage: ESPN

For UCF, it’s hard to view this bowl game as anything but a consolation prize. After winning eight of their first ten games, the Knights suffered a shocking loss to Navy. While that defeat wasn’t enough to keep UCF from playing for the AAC Championship, coming up short in the title game against Tulane resulted in losing out on the chance to play in a New Year’s Six Bowl. Several players have gone into the transfer portal since the season concluded.

Meanwhile, Duke was one of the biggest surprises in all of college football this year. Head coach Mike Elko inherited a program that had won just five games combined over the last two seasons. The Blue Devils outdid that with eight wins in his first year at the helm. Duke capped off the regular season with a win over Wake Forest to finish third in the ACC Coastal Division. Wednesday’s contest will mark the Blue Devils’ first bowl game since 2018.

Riley Leonard UCF vs Duke prediction odds college football betting picks Military Bowl game predictions
Credit: Denny Medley-USA TODAY Sports

UCF vs Duke College Football Betting Picks and Odds

All college football betting odds for UCF vs Duke can be found at BetOnline Sportsbook.

Moneyline: UCF: (+145) | DUKE: (-165)
Point Spread: UCF: +3.5 (-107) | DUKE: -3.5 (-113)
Total: 62 — Over: (-115) | Under: (-105)

College Football FEI Ratings

The following table shares the Fremeau Efficiency Index rankings for both teams involved in this Military Bowl matchup. The purpose of the FEI ratings is to represent the per-possession scoring advantage that a team would be expected to have on a neutral field against an average opponent. The rankings for offense and defense are out of 131 total FBS-level teams.

Fremeau Efficiency Index (FEI) ratings are froFootball Outsiders

TeamOverall FEI (Rk)OFEI (Rk)DFEI (Rk)
UCF.36 (36).70 (27)-.06 (65)
Duke.18 (50).62 (30)-.15 (68)
  • Knights are 4-1 ATS in their last five games following a straight up loss.
  • Four of the Knights’ last five games overall have gone OVER the total.
  • Knights are 6-0 ATS in their last six games after allowing more than 280 yards passing in their previous game.
  • Blue Devils are 5-1 ATS in their last six games overall.
  • Blue Devils are 5-0 ATS in their last five bowl games.
  • Each of the Blue Devils’ last six bowl games has gone OVER the total.
  • Blue Devils are a perfect 5-0 ATS in their last five games against AAC opponents while the Knights are just 1-4 ATS in their last five against ACC opponents.

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UCF vs Duke Prediction | College Football Betting Picks

A major component of handicapping the UCF vs Duke odds unfortunately centers around the players who won’t be suiting up for Wednesday’s game. In this case, all of the key absences are on the UCF side of the equation with the first glaring unknown coming at the quarterback position.

Starter John Rhys Plumlee was battling both shoulder and hamstring injuries down the stretch of the regular season. Initially, UCF turned to sophomore backup Mikey Keene to replace him. Keene actually put an end to that himself by refusing to play in the American Championship Game in order to avoid burning his red shirt. He has since transferred to Fresno State.

If Plumlee is deemed unfit to play in the Military Bowl, bettors should anticipate freshman Thomas Castellanos getting the start. The UCF offense was completely inept with Castellanos under center in the AAC title game loss. As such, it will be a massive downgrade if the Knights are forced to rely solely on him in the Military Bowl.

In addition to the quarterback conundrum, UCF lost its top receiver, one of its best linebackers and a starting corner to the college football transfer portal. While Gus Malzahn’s team is loaded with question marks, Duke comes into this game without any notable opt-outs or transfer portal departures. Given that the Blue Devils haven’t been bowling in some time, motivation won’t be lacking for Mike Elko’s group.

Dual-threat QB Riley Leonard had a terrific year, and one has to believe that the Blue Devils’ rushing attack as a whole will be successful against a Knights defense that gave up 166.3 rushing yards per game. The Blue Devils’ own defense excelled at forcing turnovers, something that could loom large in this game if UCF is forced to go with Castellanos at quarterback.

DUKE COVERS will be our official college football betting UCF vs Duke prediction for the Military Bowl.

For what it’s worth, the ESPN Matchup Predictor gives UCF a 56.9% chance to win this game outright.

Bet: Duke -3.5 (-113 at BetOnline Sportsbook)

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