The American Athletic Schedules were announced yesterday, which means it’s time to discuss how things shape up for the Knights. UCF presented the schedule with some whimsy and also a much more slick short video (analysis follows):
There’s a lot to like in the non-conference games. The Knights play FIU at home to begin the season. If you’re going to play a C-USA team you ought to drub, let it be an in-state team! Plus some of us suffer lingering trauma from how the 2015 season began and it would be great to put that further behind by reprising this past season’s thrashing of the Golden Panthers. Cupcake Maine slots in on September 30.
The marquee non-conference games come in weeks two and three: home versus Georgia Tech and away at Maryland. Both are winnable games, with neither being the buzzsaw that Michigan was this past year. Hey, in McKenzie Milton’s first college start, the Knights still took the Terps to double overtime. The Knights have a reasonable shot to pick up their first win over a Power Five program under Scott Frost.
The conference foes from the AAC West this year are Memphis, Navy (reigning west divisional champs), and SMU. So farewell to the Houston Cougars, whom the Knights had played every year since the inception of the AAC. And farewell also to west division punching bag Tulane.
The east divisional slate has some unknowns – just about everyone has a new head coach in 2017. Only ECU has a returning head coach, Scottie Montgomery, who like Scott Frost will be in his second year. I’ll go ahead and tab UConn and Temple as the divisional games I think are the most secure wins for the Knights.
Of course, the regular season ends with the War on I-4 against USF at home. The game’s on Black Friday, which means more TV eyeballs. The Bulls have every reason to be the divisional favorite and the conference favorite. Could the rivalry game decide the division? Don’t hate me for thinking the answer is no. It’s obviously so early, but I foresee the Knights getting dinged up in-conference prior to November 24. And the Bulls? Eh, not so much.
The three game stretch of Memphis/Georgia Tech/Maryland seems like the toughest stretch of the schedule. Just as I mention above that the Knights might well get a marquee win over a P5 school in that stretch, a realistic possibility exists that UCF drops all three of those to start 1-3 (I assume the opening week to be a win over FIU). The Knights don’t otherwise seem to have any particularly difficult games back-to-back.
What are your thoughts of how the schedule sets up? The comments are yours.