Start Time: Noon on Saturday, November 12, 2016
Location: Bright House Networks Stadium, Orlando, FL
Radio/Live Stats: 96.9 FM/740 AM in Orlando, and over here for live stats.
Betting Line: UCF opened as a ten point favorite and is now an 11.5 point favorite most places.
Records: UCF is 5-4, 3-2 in the AAC. Cincinnati is 4-5 and 1-4, their sole AAC win coming against ECU.
All-Time Series: UCF is 0-1 against Cincinnati, the loss being a 52-7 brutalizing last year. Just one of a string of absolute blowouts in that season that the Knights were on the receiving end of. Bearcats quarterback Gunner Kiel had a QBR of 431 when he got to rest during garbage time in the second quarter.
UCF Outlook: Bowl eligibility. Bowl eligibility.
We’re almost there.
The win last week was critical to get to five. With the last two games coming against Tulsa and USF, Cincinnati represents UCF’s best chance to lock in a sixth win. And what a bounce back from 2015’s winless nightmare that would be.
The Knights defense has been the strength of the team. The Knights are 31st in total defense. And 18th in third down defense. That’s a happy thing when you’re playing a team that’s as poor on third down as the Bearcats are (the Knights of course are deeply dysfunctional on third down themselves, but that’s another story). There should be much for UCF fans to look forward to against the offensively challenged Bearcats.
On the other side of the ball, UCF’s offense continues to be inconsistent. The Knights need to do better on early downs to avoid the third and long situations that they are so inept at. Oh, and stop the torrent of penalties.
With this being the game immediately following Veteran’s day, the Knights are wearing gold helmets that will feature the emblems of armed service branches. And yes, they will be up for auction following the game. Fantastic stuff:
Cincinnati Outlook: Things for the Bearcats are looking not so good. UC has dropped four of their last five games, including last week’s 20-3 loss against BYU in which head coach Tommy Tuberville growled at a fan to “go to Hell” and “get a job.”
It’s looking more and more like Tuberville might need to get a new job himself – though he signed a two year extension last spring, the season has been so bleak that he may well be out the door when it ends.
On offense, Cincinnati looks bad. They’re 118th nationally in scoring offense (20.6 points per game). They haven’t had a touchdown in six quarters of football. It’s unclear whether we’ll see Kiel, Hayden Moore, or Ross Trail starting at QB for the Bearcats – Tuberville has declined to commit. Cincinnati is led in rushing by Tion Green who has 559 yards on the year. Green normally shares carries with Mike Boone (338 yards), but Boone was injured against BYU and is doubtful. With how little success the Bearcats have achieved, it’s hard to believe they will scrape together enough points to overcome UCF.
But the defense has been decent. The Bearcats are stout at the gut (so expect the Knights to try to work outside, as they often do). They’re also opportunistic. And that’s the upside for Cincinnati – the Knights play sloppy on offense pretty often and though freshman QB McKenzie Milton has been very good for UCF, he has at times made bunches of bad mistakes. If you’re a Bearcats fan, that’s where your hope lies.
Prediction: Especially for loyal reader George Ujueta who has teased me about a lack of a hard prediction in this space, here you go: UCF wins, 24 to 10.