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No. 18 UCF Knights vs FAU Owls: Preview & Prediction

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FAU has a chance to earn a landmark win over one of the best teams in the country

COLLEGE FOOTBALL: SEP 21 FAU at UCF Photo by Andrew Bershaw/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

Game Time: 7:00 p.m. ET, Saturday, September 7th

Location: Boca Raton, FL

TV: CBS Sports Network

Series Record: UCF leads 2-0

Betting Line: UCF -10, O/U 69

Records: No. 18 UCF 1-0, FAU 0-1


UCF Outlook

The Knights did what they were supposed to do against FAMU, a school with inferior talent (better band though!). They boat raced them. The Knights won 62-0 in their season opener and displayed what has made them such a potent team over the last few seasons.

Despite the gaudy score, I wasn’t exactly impressed. Notre Dame transfer Brandon Wimbush started at QB and was 12-of-23 for 168 yards and two touchdowns. A fine stat line, but what plagued Wimbush was his inaccuracy, something that the FAU defense will surely want to test this weekend.

While Wimbush didn’t exactly impress, his supporting cast certainly did. The Knights racked up 694 yards on offense due to their running backs. Adrian Killins (7.6 yards per carry), Greg McCrae, (5.6 yards per carry), Otis Anderson (9.6 yards per carry), and Bentavious Thompson (10.6 yards per carry) are lethal. Even without McKenzie Milton, the Knights will still boast one of the most explosive rushing attacks in the country.

Stacking the box to force Wimbush to beat you is the way to go to limit UCF’s production on offense, but with NFL caliber wideouts in Tre Nixon and Gabriel Davis, you’re playing with fire. Outside of North Texas, this will be the best offense FAU will face for the remainder of the season.

Defensively it’s hard to gleam too much from UCF’s performance last week. After all, FAMU isn’t exactly a juggernaut and they only mustered 96 total yards for the game. Nothing worked, thanks to UCF’s athleticism and size.

Perhaps the biggest development is that UCF will be without starting corner Brandon Moore as he suffered a serious leg injury in last week’s game.

FAU Outlook

The Owls have taken a glass-half full approach after last week’s loss to Ohio State. After being outclassed to start the game, the Owls played with a lot of confidence to finish the game. That type of energy will need to carryover against UCF, as the Knights are just as capable of going on a 28-0 run to start the game.

Against UCF the defense will need to play with the same sense of urgency they displayed against Ohio State. Glenn Spencer should be very familiar with Josh Heupel’s offense considering he’s seen plenty of variations of this spread offense thanks to his days in the Big 12 as Oklahoma State’s defensive coordinator.

The eye discipline of Rashad Smith, Akileis Leroy, Tim Bonner, and the rest of the front seven will be key to FAU’s chances of pulling off the upset. If the Knights are getting what they want on the ground, FAU has no chance of slowing them down.

A few weeks ago I speculated that FAU might not show too much on offense against Ohio State, in hopes of surprising the Knights by opening their playbook.

Without BJ Emmons, James Charles and Larry McCammon will take on a heavier workload in the backfield. I really like what I saw from McCammon in the opener and expect him to receiver more carries against the Knight.

Chris Robison played well at home last year, and considering the game is at FAU Stadium it’s worth looking at his home splits in 2018: Robison passed for 1,491 with 8 touchdowns and 2 interceptions with 2 rushing touchdowns.

Prediction

The point spread is 10-10.5 points depending on where you go. That’s a bit surprising. What does Vegas know? The Knights have been one of the best programs in the country in the last two seasons. FAU was really good one year, woefully inconsistent the next. Considering who’s coming back, I would have guessed that UCF would be a 17.5 point favorite at least.

FAU can win this game. They’ll be at home against either a QB who struggles with accuracy and will be starting his first road game of his career or a freshman QB in Dillon Gabriel, who is, well a freshman.

If I had to place a bet on this one I’d pick the under. I like both defenses enough where the points might be at a premium. The Knights are the more talented and most explosive team so I’m picking them to win. The Owls will need Lane Kiffin to out-coach Josh Heupel to win this one and I don’t see it.

UCF 40 FAU 23