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UCF Knights vs. South Carolina Gamecocks: Preview, TV, Start Time, Betting Line

The hapless UCF Knights (0-3) take on the frustrated South Carolina Gamecocks (1-2) in Columbia. Somethings got to give when the Knights' FBS-worst offense meets the Gamecocks' bad defense.

Rob Foldy-USA TODAY Sports

Neither the UCF Knights (0-3) or the South Carolina Gamecocks (1-2) are happy with how the season has gone so far. The Knights have suffered a string of disasters amid losses to FIU, Stanford, and FCS Furman. The Gamecocks beat UNC in week one, but have suffered back-to-back SEC losses to Kentucky (which, in fairness, is a quite good Kentucky team) and Georgia.

Someone is going to get a measure of relief from their no-good-very-bad season thus far.

It's probably not going to be UCF, sadly. But if the Knights can pull off the win, it would be a rare bright spot in what is shaping up to be a dismal season.

Start time: Saturday, September 26, 2015 at Noon.

Location: Williams-Brice Stadium, Columbia, SC

TV: ESPNU

Radio: 740-AM Orlando

Betting Line: South Carolina is a 14.5 point favorite at this point which, let's be honest, is charitable for the Knights

Series: South Carolina is 4-0. The teams last played in 2013 when South Carolina escaped with a three point win in Orlando in a season that was otherwise perfect for the Knights.

The Opponent: As unhappy as Gamecocks fans are, at a 1-2 record, they are at least in better shape than the Knights. Last week, the Steve Spurrier-led Gamecocks got pounded by Georgia 52-20. There's an extra sting given how Spurrier teams have historically owned the Dawgs. Before that, Kentucky snapped its SEC road losing streak by beating the Gamecocks 26-22 in Columbia.

This feels like a "something's got to give game" in some ways. South Carolina is ranked 108 of 127 in total defense and the Knights are dead last in terms of total offense. The Gamecocks have not really been able to get consistent stops and bad as the Knights are, that means there may be some opportunity to take advantage.

Like the Knights, South Carolina's quarterback situation is in flux. Connor Mitch was injured and will miss a good chunk of the season. Perry Orth started in his place in a loss against Georgia. And now true Freshman Lorenzo Nunez will start against UCF. Nunez has looked pretty decent in his limited playing time, especially making plays with his feet. But Steve Spurrier says that Orth will still play, and Michael Scarnecchia may also.

So there's a realistic chance that between the two teams, we may see as many as six players taking snaps. Weird.

UCF Outlook: If you have followed the Knights at all this year, you know this team is just not very good. It's even worse with the recent rash of injuries causing key players to miss significant time. Especially brutal are the injuries to Justin Holman (who, thankfully, ought to be back before too long) and Jordan Akins who had emerged as the Knights top receiver before tearing his ACL. But there's also the injury to Dontravious Wilson which has pushed true Freshman Taj McGowan into starting at running back, the injury to Joey Grant (which ends the senior's career), plus the injuries during spring . . . .

Oh, and of course Will Stanback was kicked off the team, reportedly for failing multiple drug tests. Not that he had contributed much this year, but it really does put UCF in a bad position when your two healthy scholarship players at RB are both freshman.

If nothing else, Knights fans will get to watch many extremely young players in starting roles, and hope that they make the most of their early playing opportunities and mature fast. One question going forward will be which young quarterback gives the Knights the best chance: true Freshman Bo Schneider (14/30 for 109 yards, 0 TDs, 2 INTs on the season) or redshirt freshman Tyler Harris (14/32 for 131 yards, 1 TD, 2 INTs). Schneider will start, but I wouldn't be surprised to see Harris again if Schneider continues to struggle. And we may see lots of wildcat with former back-up QB who was converted to WR Nick Patti.[1]

The situation on defense is a bit better, and it's been a pleasure to watch Chequan Burkett emerge (he of the forced fumble against FIU and safety against Furman fame). But the young offense will have to get something together for the Knights to have any chance against the Gamecocks. Sadly, it feels like a longshot.

For more on UCF-SCAR, check out our Question and Answer session with South Carolina blog Garnet and Black Attack.



[1] While many blamed the wildcat plays for interrupting Schneider's rhythm, I'm not convinced he would have been less discombobulated if there were no wildcat.