UCF at Duke - 12/28/22 College Football Picks and Prediction

Duke Blue Devils (8-4) vs UCF Knights (9-4)

Game Info: Wednesday, December 28, 2022 at 2:00 pm (Jack Stephens Field at Navy-Marine Corps Memorial Stadium)

Betting Odds: Duke Blue Devils +2.5 -- Over/Under: 59.5 Click Here for the Latest Odds

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The UCF Knights and the Duke Blue Devils will head up to Annapolis and face off in the Military Bowl from the Navy-Marine Corps Stadium this Wednesday on ESPN. This will mark the first time these two programs face off.

UCF closed the season at 9-4 after a loss to Tulane in the AAC Championship game. The Knights trailed throughout the whole game, and failed to defeat the Green Wave in their second matchup this season, losing 45-28. Central Florida scores 34.3  points per game, while passing for 480.6 yards per game (59th) and rushing for 173.5 ypg (98th). The UCF defense allowed 31.9 points per game.

John Rhys Plumlee enjoyed a breakout senior season in Orlando. The former Ole Miss QB delivered a handful of signature performances this year, including a seven-touchdown outing against Temple. Plumlee finished with 2,404 passing yards, with 14 touchdowns and seven interceptions, while rushing for a team-lead 841 yards and eleven touchdowns. RJ Harvey and Isaiah Bowser both surpassed the 750-yard mark this season, with the latter rushing for 14 touchdowns. UCF lost Ryan O’Keefe to BC via transfer portal, so Javon Baker (54/747/5) should serve as the primary pass catcher in this contest..

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Duke finished the season at 8-4 after beating Wake Forest in Durham. The Blue Devils ended Sam Hartman’s ACC career on a bad note, defeating the Demon Deacons with a fourth quarter touchdown, and picking up the home underdog victory. The Blue Devils score 33.1 points per game, while passing for 236.4 yards per game (113th) and rushing for 184.8 ypg (72nd). The Duke defense allowed 22.8 points per game.

Riley Leonard had a big first season behind center in Durham. The sophomore quarterback led Duke to their first winning record in four years, with each of their final three losses coming by three points or less. Leonard threw for season-highs in the finale versus Wake Forest, and he totaled 2,794 passing yards with 20 touchdowns to six interceptions, while also rushing for 636 rushing touchdowns to eleven touchdowns. Jordan Waters led the running back group with 561 rushing yards and eight scores, while Jalon Calhoun led the wideout room with 56 receptions and 811 receiving yards.

Central Florida is 7-6 against the spread this season, with a 6-7 over/under record. Duke is 8-4 ATS this season, with a 5-6-1 O/U record.Under is 4-1 in UCF's last 5 non-conference games. Blue Devils are 5-0 ATS in their last 5 bowl games.

Two dynamic quarterbacks will match up here in the Military Bowl. Plumlee and Leonard have been the driving forces behind their respective school’s success, but there’s a good chance Mother Nature affects this game, to where it actually looks like military matchup. Both teams may lean more on their ground games here, and I like the Blue Devils closing the year on a strong note. UCF’s going into this one without a few pieces, while Duke really hit their stride down the stretch. This feels like a momentum play, and I don’t think a Plumlee will stain Duke’s breakthrough season, after the bloodline has given much loyalty to the basketball program. Take Duke’s spread for the Military Bowl.

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The pick in this article is the opinion of the writer, not a PickDawgz site consensus.

Mitch's Take...

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