FACTS & STATS: Site: Bright House Networks Stadium (45,323) — Orlando,
Florida. Television: ESPN. Home Record: Tulsa 2-3, UCF 4-0. Away Record: Tulsa
0-4, UCF 1-2. Neutral Record: Tulsa 0-0, UCF 0-1. Conference Record: Tulsa
2-3, UCF 3-1. Series Record: Tulsa leads, 5-2.
GAME NOTES: After snapping a lengthy losing streak their last time out, the
Tulsa Golden Hurricane will try to keep that momentum going on Friday night at
Bright House Networks Stadium in an American Athletic Conference matchup
against the UCF Knights.
After winning its season opener against Tulane (38-31 in double overtime),
Tulsa fell into a tailspin with seven straight losses but snapped out of that
funk last Saturday at home with a 38-28 victory over SMU. The Golden Hurricane
are now 2-3 in AAC action, but they head back out on the road where they’ve
gone winless in four tries.
UCF is a modest 5-3 overall but is in the thick of the AAC race. At 3-1 in the
league, it is tied with East Carolina and Cincinnati and just a half-game
behind Memphis (4-1). The Knights had been winners of five in a row before
dropping a disappointing 37-29 decision at Connecticut on Nov. 1.
The Golden Hurricane have a 5-2 lead in the all-time series with the Knights,
most recently beating UCF in the Conference USA Championship Game in 2012,
Tulsa hasn’t had a problem moving the ball this season (438.3 ypg), but thanks
in part to 15 turnovers, it has only scored 25.4 ppg. It put its offensive
struggles on hold last week, however, in a 38-point, 501-yard showing led by a
five-touchdown performance from its quarterback.
Dane Evans completed 16-of-24 passes for 286 yards and went without an
interception in his dazzling effort versus SMU, which went a long way in
improving his year-to-date numbers (.564 completion percentage, 2,576 yards,
19 touchdowns, nine interceptions).
Keevan Lucas has not only been Evans’ top target in the passing game but is
one of the nation’s most prolific receivers, as he ranks fourth in the FBS in
receptions (79), sixth in yards (1,017) and fifth in touchdowns (10). Keyarris
Garrett is also in the midst of a strong season with 35 catches for 520 yards
and three scores.
Zack Langer leads the modest rushing attack with 646 yards and three
touchdowns, although he only picks up 4.1 yards per attempt.
The Golden Hurricane’s defense has struggled all season long, ranking 119th in
the country in scoring defense (39.2 ppg) and 113th in total defense (483.8
Michael Mudoh is the unit’s top playmaker with 86 tackles, two forced fumbles,
a fumble recovery and an interception. Trent Martin has tallied 64 tackles and
8.0 TFL, while Derrick Alexander generates a solid pass-rush with 5.5 sacks.
The Knights’ offense has been far from prolific this season, as they score a
modest 25.8 ppg on just 330.1 ypg.
Justin Holman’s erratic play under center has been a big factor in the
offense’s inconsistent play. He’s completing less than 57 percent of his
passes for 1,718 yards, 16 touchdowns (three rushing) and 10 interceptions,
with four of those picks coming in the loss to UConn the last time out.
Breshad Perriman (26 receptions, 587 yards, five TDs) is a big-play receiver,
with his 22.6 yards-per-catch average ranking fourth-best in the nation. J.J.
Worton is Holman’s most trusted possession receiver with 31 receptions for 422
yards and three touchdowns.
UCF’s running game has been bottled up all season, amassing a mere 105.2 ypg
on 2.8 yards per carry. William Stanback is far from explosive (137 carries,
505 yards), but he has a nose for the end zone with eight scores.
The Knights has remained competitive this season thanks in large part to its
stout defense, which allows just 21.4 ppg and 308.2 ypg.
The unit has picked off 11 passes, with Jacoby Glenn leading the ball-hawking
secondary with five interceptions. Terrance Plummer leads the team with 71
tackles to go with 11.5 TFL, 2.5 sacks, two forced fumbles and two fumble
recoveries. Thomas Niles (8.5 TFL, 5.0 sacks) and Jaryl Mamea (7.0 TFL, 4.0
sacks) anchor the pass-rush.
UCF needed its bye week to recover from a potentially devastating loss to
UConn, and it should be geared up to take care of business against an inferior
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: UCF 38, Tulsa 21