With less than 24 hours till kickoff, let's see how the Owls and Knights stack up.
The Hard Facts
UCF (4-2) vs. Temple (4-2)
Game Time: 5:00
Weather: 79 degrees, zero percent chance of rain
Line: UCF -7.5
TV: CBS Sports Network
Broadcast Team: Dave Ryan, Corey Chavous, and Lauren Gardner
Radio: 740 the Game or the UCF IMG TuneIn Channel
Behind Enemy Lines
This week we enlisted the help of Steve Sabato, who covers Temple for Underdog Dynasty
Does last year's nail biter against UCF give the Temple team or fans any added confidence heading into this game?
Sabato: I won't speak for the team or fans, but I think it helps to a certain degree. Temple was an exceptionally young team last year, and UCF lost a couple NFL players on offense from a team that Temple very nearly beat. When you think of past performances in that context, I think it helps you try to rationalize a win. Though, after Temple's showing last week against Houston, I think fans are going to have a hard time feeling confident about much of anything.
Has P.J. Walker progressed in year 2 as a starter?
Sabato: I'm a little worried about P.J. He's been throwing interceptions at a higher rate: 1 INT per 26.57 attempts this season whereas last year he was throwing 1 per 31.25. He's also a full yard per attempt below what he was producing last season (7.3 vs 8.34). Numbers don't tell the whole story, but he's looked more sporadic in general. He's firing balls all over the field, and he's throwing into a lot of double and triple coverage situations. This has been especially true in the last two games where has completed 27 of 60 (45%) attempts for 3 TDs and 4 INTs. I think it's fair to chalk this up to a slump, but I think everyone sort of expected him to progress upward as the season went along, but his Tulsa and Houston games are showing something else--which is a little alarming.
What do the Owls need to do to get the road win?
Sabato: The most exciting development of this season has been the emergence of running back Jahad Thomas as a legitimate threat. He has produced 172 and 199 yards from scrimmage in his last two games. Temple likes to spread its touches among their three main running backs, but Thomas' last two games call for him to remain a focal point. Getting him the ball will take some pressure off Walker and help them be more productive overall. As well, the defense needs to stay the course. They were responsible for 24 of Houston's points last week, but seemed to have Greg Ward Jr. in check after the first pair of drives. They had been one of the better units in the conference going into that game, and a return to form will absolutely help them return to the wins column.
Key to a Knights Victory
UCF cannot allow P.J. Walker to go crazy like he did a year ago. It would be presumptuous to assume that problems on the offensive line or in the running game will just miraculously go away for the Knights, so holding the opposing offense in check is critical.
Stat to Watch
Quarterback completion percentage is going to be something to keep an eye on. Both Walker and Justin Holman have shown the ability to put up big games and also inconsistent performances. The more accurate signal caller will come away victorious.
After their lackluster performance against Tulane, O'Leary has the team at full attention this week. That, plus lingering memories of last season's desperation win will get UCF playing their best.
UCF 34 Temple 21