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Injuries and Absences Impacting 2019 Fiesta Bowl Betting

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Jay Ginsbach

December 31st, 2018

This will be the third straight bowl appearance for Central Florida, and the Knights enter on an absurd 26-game winning streak dating back to last season. That includes a Sugar Bowl win over Auburn last year. Louisiana State is making their 19th straight bowl appearance, and the Tigers are the toughest opponent UCF will play this season, but LSU will be shorthanded with four starters out and two others missing the first half. Nobody's credited the UCF Knights because of the conference they play in, and even the oddsmakers are capping them by a touchdown in 2019 Fiesta Bowl betting. Are they worth taking, or is LSU going to once again prove how dominant the SEC is?

2019 Fiesta Bowl Betting LSU Tigers (9-3) vs. UCF Knights (12-0) Tuesday, January 1st – Glendale, AZ 1:00pm ET (ESPN) Betting Line: LSU -7 (57)

LSU was one of the least experienced teams entering the season, while UCF was one of the most experienced. Against the better opponents on the Knights' schedule this season, UCF allowed 41 and 30 points to Memphis in their two meetings, and 40 to Temple. They held both Cincinnati (13) and Pitt (14) down at home, and UCF’s offense scored at least 31 points in every game while averaging 44.7 points per game versus FBS opponents. But LSU is the most physical and toughest team UFC has played on defense. The Tigers allowed 354.5 yards per game versus FBS opponents and 4.9 yards per play against FBS opponents which ranked Top-25 playing one of the toughest schedules in the country.

LSU’s 11 FBS opponents had a win percentage of .560, and the Tigers went 5-3 SU/ATS against eight bowl teams while being out-gained by 38 yards per game. The Tigers also beat Georgia and Mississippi State at home and Auburn on the road. They lost at Florida and then surrendered the record setting, seven OT game at Texas A&M, 74-72, to close the season

UCF played one of the softest schedules in the country with FBS opponents combined win percentage of .444 going 6-0 SU and 5-1 ATS out-gaining them by 101 yards per game.

The biggest challenge for UCF is that QB McKenzie Milton will miss the bowl game with a severe knee injury suffered in November. Darriel Mack will start, and he’s a big, strong duel threat who passed for 348 yards and two touchdowns against Memphis in the AAC Championship game.

A much tougher test is still waiting against a motivated LSU team, but the Tigers are dealing with tragedy, controversy and missing players which should have a major impact on 2019 Fiesta Bowl betting. Two players were involved in a shooting the past week, but will play. Two freshman were suspended for violating team rules. A linebacker is out with personal issues, and the biggest losses on the playing field are cornerback Greedy Williams and nose guard Ed Alexander, who will skip the bowl game in order to prepare for the upcoming NFL draft. Also, Cornerback Kristian Fulton and defensive end Breiden Fehoko will miss the game due to injuries while Jacob Phillips will miss the first half after being flagged for targeting during the regular-season finale against Texas A&M.

A total of six players will miss at least a half of play for LSU in the Fiesta Bowl, as UCF gets more breaks. Still, the advantage at the line of scrimmage favors LSU and their power running game against a UCF defense that allowed an average of 290 rushing yards per game over their last five contests.

The injuries on both teams make the Fiesta Bowl a tougher one to bet with confidence, but LSU is stronger in the trenches and should snap the Knights long winning streak.

2019 Fiesta Bowl Betting Pick – LSU Tigers -7.0

Fairway Jay is a professional handicapper based out of Las Vegas. He focuses primarily on the four majors along with college football and college basketball. You can follow him on Twitter @FairwayJay.