We’re less than two months away from the opening kickoff of the UCF Knights inaugural season in the Big 12, which means it’s high time to break down the team’s chances in the year ahead.
Under the leadership of longtime head coach Gus Malzahn, the Knights will look to follow in the footstep of other teams that have made the jump from the Group of Five to the Power Five, such as TCU and Utah, and become a regular CFP participant in their new conference home.
Under Malzahn’s leadership, the Knights are coming off consecutive nine-win seasons in their old home (the American Athletic Conference) and have five 10-win seasons since 2010 to their name.
Ahead of the 2023 regular season kickoff, FloridaBet.com is always thinking from a Florida sports betting angle so we contextualized who the best head coach in the Big 12 is, based on their individual records against the spread at their current schools.
Best Big 12 Coaches Against the Spread
We utilized records from TeamRankings.com to determine which Big 12 football coaches have the best records ATS.
For this list, only games from the coach’s current stint were included. Teams with new coaches entering the 2023 season were not included.
Malzahn At The Bottom of Big 12’s ATS Rankings
Two years into his tenure in Orlando, Malzahn’s 18-9 record with the Knights is a lot rosier than his ATS numbers.
That’s because Malzahn has gone 12-15 (.444) ATS at UCF since 2021, ranking dead-last among Big 12 coaches who have been at their schools for at least a year.
The former Auburn and Arkansas State head coach ranks behind Kansas’ Lance Leipold (45.8% cover percentage) on the Big 12 ATS leaderboard, while finishing well behind No. 1 Sonny Dykes of TCU (71.4%) and Kansas State’s Chris Klieman (64.6%).
As for the Knights’ on-field prospects, oddsmakers at BetMGM Sportsbook have UCF at +2500 to win the Big 12 in 2023 — ranking seventh overall, between No. 6 Baylor and TCU (+2000 apiece) and No. 8 Oklahoma State (+4000).
As for UCF’s win total over/under, BetMGM Sportsbook pins the Knights’ figure at 7 for 2023, with -105 odds on the over and -115 odds on the under.
The Knights last won less than seven games in a season (not counting the 2020 COVID-19 season) in 2016, when UCF went 6-7 under Scott Frost.
When UCF kicks off their first season in the Big 12 against Kent State from Orlando on Aug. 31, it’ll be the dawn of a new era for the school.
Knights fans will likely hope that the school’s new home will net them more hardware than the lone New Year’s Six trophy that UCF earned as an AAC member by beating Auburn in the 2017 Peach Bowl.
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