FACTS & STATS: Site: Raymond James Stadium (65,857) — Tampa, Florida.
Television: ESPN2. Home Record: UCF 6-0, USF 2-4. Away Record: UCF 1-2, USF
2-3. Neutral Record: UCF 0-1, USF 0-0. Conference Record: UCF 5-1, USF 3-4.
Series Record: South Florida leads, 4-1.
GAME NOTES: In a matchup of Sunshine State foes, the UCF Knights will clash
with the South Florida Bulls in an American Athletic Conference bout at
Raymond James Stadium.
UCF is entering a critical stretch of the season as it plays its final two
games, including this one, on the road. The Knights are in the hunt for the
AAC title, with a record of 5-1 in conference play, which is tied with
Cincinnati for second in the league standings, just a half game back of
Memphis. They have won back-to-back games since a puzzling 37-29 setback
against Connecticut, including a 53-7 rout of winless SMU last weekend.
USF doesn’t have such lofty goals as it approaches this, its regular season
finale. The Bulls lost to Memphis last weekend (31-20), marking their third
setback in the last four games. The loss to the Tigers officially put an end
to their faint bowl hopes and dropped them to 3-4 in conference play.
Last season, the Bulls hung right with the conference champion Knights, but
fell short in a 23-20 decision. USF still leads the all-time series, having
won the four previous meetings.
UCF can’t claim to be one of the elite offensive units in the AAC, but it is
far from the worst. The Knights are only producing 363 yards per game, but
that is good enough to rank sixth in the conference. They also are scoring at
a solid rate, putting up 29 points per game, the fourth-best mark in the
The Knights put forth arguably their best offensive effort of the season
against SMU, racking up 490 total yards and 27 first downs, while setting a
season-high in points scored. It was the fourth straight week they have posted
at least 400 yards of total offense, after failing to do so in the first four.
Justin Holman has been a steady force under center for the Knights, although
he has rarely had to be anything more than a game manager. He has completed
57.8 percent of his passes for 2,237 yards and 18 touchdowns, compared to 12
interceptions. A pair of those interceptions and touchdown passes came last
time out, when Holman threw for 228 yards on 15-of-22 passing against SMU.
Holman’s efforts have been aided by a solid receiving group. J.J. Worton has
turned his team-leading 36 receptions into 514 yards and five touchdowns, but
it is Breshad Perriman who has been the biggest nightmare for opposing
secondaries, with 712 yards and seven touchdowns on only 31 receptions. His
23-yard-per-reception average leads the AAC.
Micah Reed was a surprising force in the win over SMU, as he picked up 112
yards on 26 carries, after having only nine attempts and 44 yards in the other
nine games of the season. William Stanback (558 yards, eight TDs) is still the
leading rusher on the roster, but Dontravious Wilson (338 yards, three TDs)
was a star against SMU, rushing for 80 yards and two touchdowns.
While competent is the best way to describe UCF’s offense, dominant is the
best term to define the defense. The Knights are ranked at the very top of the
AAC in total defense (278.3 ypg). They are the only team in the league to be
letting up fewer than 300 yards per game.
The Knights aren’t facing their greatest challenge this season against USF’s
offense, which ranks eighth in the conference in total yards (314.2 ypg). They
also are scoring a meager 18.7 points per game. Against Memphis, they nearly
had 400 total yards, while actually earning more first downs than the
victorious Tigers (20-19).
Mike White made the start at quarterback against Memphis, compiling 244 yards
on 21-of-35 passing. White has been the most utilized quarterback, but he has
been far from effective. He has completed just over 50 percent of his pass
attempts for 1,532 yards with nearly as many touchdown passes (eight) as
interceptions (seven). Steven Bench, who threw for 57 yards and a score on 6-
of-11 passing against Memphis, has a total of 523 yards, three touchdowns and
two interceptions on 48.3 percent passing.
Marlon Mack has been the one constant for the offense, as he has 1,009 yards
and nine touchdowns on 191 carries. He was as forceful as ever against
Memphis, finishing with 102 yards and touchdown in the losing effort. He also
found time to collect eight passes for 57 yards in the victory.
Normally, Andre Davis (30 receptions, 537 yards, seven TDs) is the top target,
and he is the only player on the team with more than 350 yards receiving. Mike
McFarland (25 receptions, 290 yards) is second in receptions, while Rodney
Adams (21 receptions, 315 yards, two TDs) is second in receiving yards.
USF is near the bottom of the conference in total defense, ranking eighth
(412.5 ypg). Reshard Cliett has been a strong performer for the group, leading
the team in sacks (5.0), while Nigel Harris (66 tackles, 7.5 TFL, 2.0 sacks)
has been making plays as well.
Mack and defenders like Harris and Cliett have been solid for the Bulls this
season, but the rest of the roster is devoid of such talent. UCF’s excellent
defense will keep White or Bench guessing, and make sure the Knights don’t
suffer a letdown here.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: UCF 31, South Florida 17