The AAC conference play begins on Friday Night for the Cincy Bearcats (3-1) when they host the #18 UCF Knights (4-1) under the bright lights of Nippert Stadium in Cincinnati.

UCF Freshman QB Dillon
UCF Freshman QB Dillon Gabriel passes in a victory against UCONN in Orlando, FL. (Image: Phelan M. Ebenhack/AP)

UCF, defending two-time AAC champions, won 20-straight American Conference games. Josh Heupel’s squad come into this Friday Night matchup as a 3.5-point favorite.

UCF defeated Stanford 45-27 in Week 3. They jumped up to #15 in the rankings, but suffered a crushing 35-34 loss at Pittsburgh two weeks ago. Pitt ran the “Philly Special” on them and successfully pulled off the trick play for the victory.

#18 UCF Knights (4-1) at Cincinnati Bearcats (3-1)
Kickoff: 5pm PT
Location: Nippert Stadium in Cincinnati, OH
Point Spread: UCF -3.5
Over/Under: 60.5
Money Line: UCF -170 /CIN +150

UCF football went 25-1 over the last two seasons. UCF felt they should have been given more love by the college football playoff committee. The NCAA told them to play a tougher schedule. In non-conference action, UCF dropped a tough game against Pitt for their first loss of the season.

UCF has been trying to get mainstream respect the last couple of years. Too bad Tacko Fall did not play tight end, then UCF football would get a ton more media coverage.

QB Shuffle for UCF

Last season, UCF football lost their starting QB McKenzie Milton and Heisman hopeful to a grueling injury. Darriel Mack Jr. stepped up and finished out the season for the Knights.

Darriel Mack Jr. finally returned to the lineup last week after ankle surgery. He saw action in the second half against UCONN.

Backup QB Brandon Wimbush, graduate transfer from Notre Dame, started the first game but got benched in favor of freshman Dillon Gabriel. Gabriel has been the starter since their second game. With Darriel Mack back, Wimbush might see time at wide receiver.

“Yeah, he’s got the ability to play out there, too,” said head coach Josh Heupel. “We have to figure out how to get him on the field.”

Last week in a 56-21 blowout win over UCONN, Dillon Gabriel found WR Gabe Davis for five catches and three touchdown strikes. Junior RB Greg McCabe is averaging 6.2 yards per carry this season with 4 touchdowns.

Home Dog Alert for the Bearcats

The Cincy Bearcats kicked off the season with a 24-14 victory over Chip Kelly’s UCLA squad. In Week 2, Cincy got crushed 42-0 by #5 Ohio State. Since that ass-kicking, the Bearcats won two straight games outscoring Marshall and Miami (Ohio) 87-27.

Sophomore QB Desmond Ridder threw a season-high four touchdown passes against Marshall. After an erratic start to the season, Cincy needs a strong outing from Ridder if they expect to pick off a ranked team.

Cincinnati lacks the firepower of UCF, who puts up 49 points per game versus 27.8 ppg for the Bearcats. UCF likes to run the ball averaging 232 yards per game. Cincy’s D will be tasked with stopping a double-threat offense than generated 568 yards per game.

The Cincy Bearcats are getting +3.5 at home during a shortened week. Both defenses for UCF and Cincinnati allowed approximately 20 points per game. The total is hovering around 60 points.

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