Last week in this space, we started talking strength of schedule and how, as between the winner of the War on I-4 and San Diego State, strength of schedule might matter a great deal.
Yeah, so Boise State knocked off SDSU 31-14. The only Group of Five team ranked above the UCF Knights is USF. And – obviously – the Knights have the opportunity to beat the Bulls. UCF controls its own destiny when it comes to playing in a New Year’s Six bowl.
The teams UCF have beaten this year are a combined 15-17. Sure, the Knights have only played two teams with winning records right now – Memphis and FIU. But UCF is blowing everyone off the field, and hasn’t been seriously challenged after the half in any game.
To put that in context, consider the obvious comparator, USF. The Bulls have played six games and the combined record of their opponents is 14-28. One third of their opponents to date have one win. Another third have two wins. The last third consists of a 3-4 Temple team and a 5-2 FCS program, Stony Brook.
As my colleague Luke noted on Twitter:
USF FBS Opponent Record: 9-26 (+28 scoring margin)— Inside the Dungeon (@InsideDungeon) October 15, 2017
UCF FBS Opponent Record: 15-17 (+33.8 scoring margin)
USF is 3 spots ahead in @AP_Top25
On to the Knights’ past and future opponents, in schedule order:
FIU Panthers (4-2 Overall, 2-1 Conference USA)
The Panthers beat their AAC foe Tulane this week 23-10. FIU had a balanced attack (218 yards rushing, 220 through the air) and held Tulane’s running game in check.
This is a big deal for FIU – at 4-2 in Butch Davis’s first season, the Panthers have now matched their previous best start in program history.
The Panthers aren’t a very good team, but they’re a very good-for-FIU team.
Maryland Terrapins (3-3 Overall, 1-2 Big Ten)
The Terps lost to their conference opponent Northwestern, in a game where the lead went back and forth. Maryland could not run the ball at all. And the defense was overwhelmed, surrendering 531 yards to Wildcats. The final score was 37-21.
#25/RV Memphis Tigers (5-1 Overall, 2-1 AAC)
A 30-27 win over Navy got the Tigers ranked in the AP Poll (though not the Coaches poll). This is the first time the program history that Memphis has beaten two top 25 teams in one season (you’ll recall the UCLA game?).
UCF’s 40-13 hammering of Memphis is the team’s best win to date.
Cincinnati Bearcats (2-5 Overall, 0-3 AAC)
The Bearcats were clobbered by USF this week, losing 33-3. The USF rushing attack was dominant and the Cincinnati offense was poor. The Bearcats totaled 273 yards of offense – only 3.9 yards per play.
The Bearcats have now dropped four in a row and been outscored 164-79 in those games.
ECU Pirates (1-6 Overall, 1-3 AAC)
UCF 63, ECU 21. Next.
Navy Midshipmen (5-1 Overall, 3-1 AAC)
The Midshipmen made a load of mistakes in their loss to Memphis this week. Navy suffered five turnovers. Quarterback Zach Abey was disastrous when called upon to throw the football and went 1-for-7 for 20 yards and two interceptions.
This was Navy’s first real test of the year; they failed it. I expect the Knights to inflict another loss on them this week.
Austin Peay Governors (4-3 Overall, 3-1 Ohio Valley Conference)
The Governors beat Tennessee State 21-17, despite playing most of the game with backup Jeremiah Oatsvall in at quarterback. Ausitn Peay played sound defense, forcing Tennessee State to settle for a number of early field goal attempts (on which Tennessee State was a measly 1-of-3).
SMU Mustangs (4-2 Overall, 1-1 AAC)
The Mustangs had a bye. They resume play next week with a game against the reeling Bearcats.
UConn Huskies (2-4 Overall, 1-3 AAC)
With a 28-24 win over the Temple Owls, UConn snapped an eight game conference losing streak and notched the Huskies’ first road win in almost two years. Much of the credit belongs to the defense which, after looking bad all year, stepped up.
Temple Owls (3-4 Overall, 1-3 AAC)
Temple’s loss to UConn emphasizes that apart from the two best teams in the AAC East, the rest of the division is bad, bad, bad.
#16/#13 USF Bulls (6-0 Overall, 3-0 AAC)
Stop me if you’ve heard this before: the USF offense endured some early struggles this week. The first quarter of the Bull’s homecoming game against Cincinnati ended with the score 3-3. But USF’s defense continues to be excellent, and the Bulls ultimately prevailed 33-3.
 Two weeks ago, the Knights led Cincinnati 20-7 at the end of the first quarter.