SMU (0-9) at UCF (6-3) (ET)

FACTS & STATS: Site: Bright House Networks Stadium (45,323) — Orlando,
Florida. Television: ESPNews. Home Record: SMU 0-5, UCF 5-0. Away Record: SMU
0-4, UCF 1-2. Neutral Record: SMU 0-0, UCF 0-1. Conference Record: SMU 0-5,
UCF 4-1. Series Record: UCF leads, 5-1.

GAME NOTES: The UCF Knights will try to keep pace atop the American Athletic
Conference standings when they face the SMU Mustangs in a league test at
Bright House Networks Stadium.

This won’t be the most difficult of examinations for the Knights, as SMU is
still winless nine games into the season. The tumultuous campaign has featured
the resignation of its head coach, as June Jones stepped down in September,
and not a single victory, even last weekend the Mustangs nearly topped South
Florida before falling, 14-13.

UCF recovered from a puzzling 37-29 loss to UConn on Nov. 1 to stomp Tulsa,
31-7, in the first part of this final two-game homestand. The bye week
in between clearly helped the Knights, who are 6-3 overall and 4-1 in league
play. That places them in a tie with Cincinnati for second place in the AAC,
with both squads hanging a half-game back of Memphis at the moment.

These teams met on the last day of the regular season last year, and the
visiting Knights earned a 17-13 victory to finish off an 11-1 campaign prior
to their upset of Baylor in the Fiesta Bowl. UCF has won five of the six all-
time meetings.

As might be expected of a team without a single win, SMU is the worst
offensive team in the AAC, averaging a miserable 274.1 yards per game. Even
though the Mustangs nearly knocked off USF, they still had a ton of trouble
moving the football, finishing with just 257 total yards.

A weak offensive team was at a further disadvantage with starting quarterback
Garrett Krstich out for the second straight week with a hand injury. Matt
Davis has handled the duties under center the last two weeks, with lackluster
results. He has completed 43-of-63 pass attempts, but for only 401 yards and
as many touchdowns as interceptions (two).

Davis may have only started the last two games, but he is still somehow the
team’s top rusher, with 312 yards on two scores. He picked up 181 yards and
two touchdowns against Tulsa, and followed that with a 53-yard outing against
USF. PRescott Line (158 yards, two TDs) is the club’s top running back.

The Mustangs anticipated having a strong receiving corps this season, with
talents like Der’rikk Thompson and Darius Joseph out on the edge.
Unfortunately, neither has lived up to the hype. Thompson may lead the team in
receptions (31) and receiving yards (512), but he has been well short of
dominant. However, he did record 96 yards on three receptions against USF,
marking his best outing of the season. Joseph (39 receptions, 241 yards, two
TDs) has a 100-yard game to his credit this season, but has largely been

Just like SMU is not an offensive giant, it also suffers from crippling
defensive deficiencies. The Mustangs are last in the country in total defense
(528.2 ypg), while surrendering 43.1 points per game.

The good news is, UCF is far from an offensive powerhouse. The Knights are
seventh in the AAC in total offense (348.9 ypg) and fifth in scoring (26.3
ppg). However, they have picked up the pace recently, with at least 400 yards
in each of the last three games, including a season-high 506 against Tulsa.

Justin Holman was able to find his receivers rather easily against the Golden
Hurricane, as he completed 16-of-27 pass attempts for 291 yards and three
touchdowns. Holman is not normally so effective, as he has 2,009 yards and 16
touchdowns, compared to 10 interceptions, on just 56.9 percent passing over
the course of nine games, eight of which he has started.

Josh Reese was the leading target against Tulsa, picking up 104 yards and a
score on four receptions. However, Reese (20 receptions, 348 yards, three TDs)
is fourth on the team in total catches this season. J.J. Worton (34
receptions, 450 yards, four TDs) and Breshad Perriman (29 receptions, 669
yards, six TDs) are the more productive down-field threats. Perriman has been
especially dangerous, averaging a league-best 23.1 yards per reception.

When it comes to running the ball, William Stanback is the best option. He has
not been overly explosive, averaging 3.6 yards per carry, but he has a team-
high 558 yards and eight touchdowns on 153 carries. He managed 54 yards on 17
attempts against Tulsa. Meanwhile, second back Dontravious Wilson (258 yards,
TD) scored his first touchdown of the season, while producing 87 yards on 17

The meager offensive offerings from UCF have been paired with a rather
dominant defensive front. The Knights lead the AAC in total defense (296.3
ypg), while holding opponents to only 19.8 points per game.

While the beauty of sports is that any team can win at any time, the
likelihood that UCF will beat SMU is about as close to a sure thing as there

Sports Network Predicted Outcome: UCF 34, SMU 14