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UCF Knights vs. Temple Owls Preview and Prediction

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UCF cannot look ahead to USF as Temple looks to play spoiler in their quest to bowl-eligibilty.

Central Florida v SMU Photo by Cooper Neill/Getty Images

Start Time: Saturday, November 18th, 2017 at 12:00 p.m. EST

Location: Lincoln Financial Field, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

TV: ESPNU

All-Time Series: Tied, 2-2

Last Meeting: 10/15/16. Temple 26 - UCF 25

Betting Line: UCF -14

Temple Owls Outlook

It’s been a tale of two halves of the year for the Owls as the offense started slowly, but is suddenly firing at all cylinders with Frank Nutile under center. A month ago, Temple was in a stretch in which they lost three of four games and a bowl game was an afterthought. Coming off back-to-back wins, they only need one more to reach a third straight bowl game for the first time in program history.

Nutile has been the difference for Geoff Collins’ group as the offense has averaged 32.2 per game since the quarterback change.Temple is difficult to defend on the perimeter as all four of their primary receivers are 6-foot-2 or taller, and Nutile has been able to get the ball into his playmakers hands. David Hood has also been a spark in the ground game as Ryquell Armstead has battled injuries for much of the season.

It will also be Senior Day for the Owls and a good portion of the defense will be playing their last game in Philadelphia. Collins and defensive coordinator Taver Johnson will have their hands full trying to contain an UCF offense that leads the nation in scoring at 48.6 points per game. The Knights have explosive players all across their offense, but Temple has the personnel to slow them down. How this battle plays out will go a long way in determining whether UCF runs away with this one or Temple breaks the Knights’ heart again this season.

UCF Knights Outlook

Every objective piece of data tells us that UCF should beat Temple and beat them thoroughly. S&P+ puts the Knights at 5th and the Owls eighty spots lower (just head of another UCF opponent, FIU, and we all remember how that went). By the measure of the advanced stats, UCF has the most explosive team in the country. And the Knights are scoring the most points per game of anyone.

UCF has achieved that success thanks to McKenzie Milton’s excellent play at quarterback and the plethora of talented skill players around him. RB Adrian Killins Jr. is likely the fastest man in college football. WR Tre’Quan Smith has been tremendous and looks like an NFL draft pick. Freshman like WR Gabe Davis, and do-everything skill player Otis Anderson have turned heads this year as well. Just last week, Anderson had 118 all purpose yards and two rushing touchdowns against UConn.

But nothing’s a guarantee. Temple has been a different team with Frank Nutile at quarterback and is surprisingly on the cusp of bowl eligibility. And – in what is still a young series - the teams have played each other close. UCF fans will undoubtedly remember this en route to 2013’s Fiesta Bowl winning season:

While Temple fans will no doubt recall last year’s UCF homecoming-ruining victory on the fake spike with :01 to play.

The risk here is that UCF’s execution suffers as it did at times against SMU, Austin Peay, and UConn (and to a lesser extent, Navy). But that’s where UCF’s strength comes in – when you’re scoring 48.6 points per game, you’ve got cushion for errors.

Prediction

Anderson said it best when asked about this game: “We could this game and then beat USF, and it would kind of tarnish our season and where we want to be.” That attitude right there is exactly how the Knights should approach this game. However, this will be a closer game than the Vegas line indicates. Temple is playing their best football of the season and it’s Senior Day at The Linc. There would be no more emphatic way to end their playing careers at Temple by becoming the program’s winningest class with a win over an undefeated team. While it won’t happen, this is going to be the dog fight the Knights need to prepare themselves for the War on I-4 next week.

UCF 34 - Temple 28