Start Time: Saturday, September 10 at 12:00 PM EST
Location: Ann Arbor, Michigan.
Radio/Live Stats: 96.9 FM and 740 AM for radio and over here for live stats.
Betting Line: UCF is a 35.5 point underdog.
Records: UCF and Michigan are both 1-0. Neither have played a conference game yet.
All-Time Series: This is the first meeting between the teams.
UCF Outlook: The Knights are 1-0 following their week one shutout of MEAC foe South Carolina State. It was the Knights' first win since 2014. While not the most interesting football ever played by the Knights, it felt dang good to break that losing streak.
Uncertainties still abound with this Knights team. QB Justin Holman picked things up in the second half last week to end 14/28 for 193 yards passing, and two touchdowns (as well as 40 yards rushing and a rushing TD). His play in the first half was atrocious, however. He was skittish and inaccurate. And clearly not accustomed yet to Scott Frost's spread-to-run offense, Holman made wrong reads a number of times and sent running backs straight into walls. Again, he settled down in the second half. But the Knights can ill afford Holman spotting Michigan a bad half of bad QB play.
Keep an eye on WR Tre'quan Smith, whom I believe has the athleticism to challenge an excellent Michigan defense. He led the Knights last week in receptions (4), yardage (65), and had one of the Knights' two receiving touchdowns. I think highly of true freshman Jawon Hamilton, who led the Knights on the ground last week. While I don't predict this to be a breakout game for him, I'm eager to see how he can perform against this level of competition. He's the future at running back (and frankly probably most of the present, too).
The Knights defense will be challenged. The secondary (especially Shaquill Griffin) looked good against South Carolina State. But it's hard to get too excited in light of how bad the Bulldogs' quarterback play was. I worry about how much better a unit that got routinely torched in 2015 can be in a year. Especially going up against a guy like Jehu Chesson on the outside.
Michigan Outlook: The Wolverines looked stellar last week in drubbing a hapless Hawaii team, 63-3. Michigan excelled on both sides of the ball. The defense had two pick sixes. Also four sacks. Hawaii only scored in the fourth quarter thanks to a 55 yard field goal. The Michigan offense rolled along as well, racking up 306 yards rushing to go with 206 passing.
The real question mark for Michigan going into the season was at quarterback. And the answer was supplied last week. Despite a terrible interception to start the game, Wilton Speight showed that he could be very effective and finished 10/13 with three touchdowns. He looks to be an excellent game manager. With good quarterback play in place, this is a truly dangerous team.
True freshman Chris Evans was a revelation for Michigan last week, and our sister site Maize n Brew is firmly on his hype train. Evans had two touchdowns and 112 yards rushing. On eight carries. In relief of senior running back De'Veon Smith. Yikes. If the Knights' rebuilt front leaves holes for Evans, expect him to wreck havoc.
The defense is led by Jabrill Peppers who was a monster last week against Hawaii. He racked up eight tackles, two tackles for loss, and a sack. The guy can do anything and allows the Wolverines tremendous flexibility in responding to different offensive personnel.
Look also Don Brown's defense to blitz often and take advantage of Holman's lack of comfort in this offense.
In candor: there is no evidence to suggest that the Knights can beat the Wolverines. In my Q&A with Maize n Brew, I predicted a 16-42 loss, I'm at peace with what I think is the likely result. The Knights are climbing out of last year's crater and are not going to be a good team overnight. But this is a great opportunity to see how the Knights are progressing and how the young players on this team perform against excellent talent.