St. Petersburg Bowl Betting Odds - Free ATS Pick
This season's St. Petersburg Bowl at Tropicana Field on Dec. 26 pits the North Carolina State Wolfpack against the Central Florida Knights in the first of two ACC vs AAC showdowns this bowl season. Kickoff is set for 8 p.m. (ET) and the game will be broadcast nationally on ESPN.
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NC State wrapped-up play in the ACC this season with back-to-back victories against Wake Forest and North Carolina both straight-up and against the spread. The 35-7 romp over the rival Tar Heels was especially impressive as a 6.5-point underdog on the road. Overall, the Wolfpack went 7-5 both SU and ATS including a 4-2 record ATS in six games this season as underdogs. The total stayed UNDER in four of their last eight games.
The Wolfpack did a good job moving the ball on the ground this season behind Shadrach Thornton and quarterback Jacoby Brissett. Shadrach rushed for 811 yards on the year but he really came into his own in his last two outings with a combined 271 rushing yards and two scores on 44 carries. Brissett ended the season with 2,344 yards passing and 22 touchdown throws to go along with another 498 yards and three scores on the ground.
The Knights started the season with back-to-back losses to Penn State and Missouri both SU and ATS, but they went on to post nine SU wins in their next 10 games while going a profitable 8-2 ATS. They earned a share of this year's AAC title with a season-ending 32-30 victory over East Carolina on Dec. 4 as 6.5-point road underdogs. The total went OVER the closing 55-point line and it has now gone OVER in four of their last six games.
Last season it was the exploits of Blake Bortles that drove UCF's success, but this season it was a bruising defense that led the way by holding teams to 17.9 points a game, which was ranked ninth in the nation. Quarterback Justin Holman did throw for a respectable 2,661 yards and 20 scores with Breshad Perriman accounting for 41 catches for 906 yards and nine of those touchdown throws.
The Wolfpack are 4-1-1 ATS in their last six bowl games and 5-2-1 ATS in their last eight games played at a neutral site. The total has gone OVER in eight of their last 12 games against a team with a SU winning record.
The Knights are 8-2 ATS in their last 10 games against a nonconference opponent and the total has stayed UNDER in their last four games against a team from the ACC.
These two have split the last two meetings both SU and ATS with the underdog winning each time.
NC State vs. UCF Point Spread Pick
When it comes to bowl games featuring fairly unfamiliar foes, I will usually lean towards the team with the superior defense and that is once again the case in this matchup. I would be tempted to make a play on the UNDER 49.5, but the top pick in this year's St. Petersburg Bowl is to lay the two points and take the home-town Knights in this one.