As I said in my UCF season preview, this will be one of the most hyped games of the year. The FAU Owl’s 63-14 blowout loss to Oklahoma has dulled the excitement somewhat, but the “Lane Train” will enter Orlando feeling good after two consecutive wins about upsetting the Knights at the “Bounce House”, which should still be a sellout crowd for the Friday night prime time ESPN televised tilt.
I don’t expect the road trip up I-95 will result for a fun night for FAU fans though. All three of the Owls losses in 2017 came against great running teams, so the Knights should look to get that going early against FAU’s undersized front seven. UCF will want to get ahead early as FAU has a very experienced secondary. McKenzie Milton is not exactly coming off his best game with 3 INTs last week and will look to take better care of the ball against the Owls very experienced secondary, who have feasted on teams playing from behind.
The Owls are playing a freshmen QB Chris Robison, who has been hit or miss so far this season and is mostly a pocket passer who only runs occasionally. He had two INTs against last week’s FCS opponent. Coach Lane Kiffin knows if he is to be successful against UCF he must be able to establish FAU’s run game, highlighted by last years All -American Devin Singletary. They were able to run for 376 yds last week and he will look to see if he can come anywhere close to that against the Knights this week to have any chance at a win.
This game will be won in the trenches. If UCF can dominate in the run game as they have so far with the nation’s 7th best ground attack (306yds/game), and Randy Shannon’s defense can stop FAU’s run game and force them to pass, this will be a convincing win for UCF on national TV.
When: Fri, Sept. 21st, 7:00 PM, EST
Where: Spectrum Stadium (44,206) at 4465 Knights Victory Way, Orlando, FL 32816
Weather: 84°, Partly Sunny, Accuweather Forecast
- RealFeel®: 87°
- Winds: 12 mph ENE
- Humidity: 69%
- Cloud Cover: 46%
Series Record: UCF 1 – FAU 0
TV: ESPN, Commentators Jason Benetti, Kelly Stouffer, & Olivia Dekker
Radio: AM 740/FM 96.9 The Game, Marc Daniels, Gary Parris, & Jerry O’Neill
ESPN Gamecast: UCF vs FAU GameCast
Live Stats: UCF vs FAU StatsBroadcast.com
Watch Live: UCF vs FAU Tickets
Free Internet Stream: First Row Sports LiveStream
Betting Line: UCF -13.5, Over/Under 71 UCF vs FAU OddsShark.com
When UCF Knights Have The Ball
The plan for UCF should be simple, dominate will the run early as they have been doing all year. If FAU can’t stop the Knights rushing attack, they are done, period. Expect to see Milton running a lot more this game as part of the RPO offense, as Coach Josh Heupel opens up the entire playbook for this one.
Milton will have to take very good care of the ball against FAU experienced secondary and not try to force things if they aren’t there. With the complete playbook at his disposal this week, I expect Milton to shine and be back to his #HIsman level performance level.
One intriguing thing to look for is to see if Coach Heupel can incorporate his TE’s into the offense more than has been seen. They were a favorite tool of his at Miss State, but have been largely ineffective so far this season. It will be a tough task against FAU’s fast and athletic LB’s, but will be something to watch for.
When FAU Owls Have The Ball
The Owls feature RB Singletary, who is aptly nicknamed “Motor”, as he is the key to FAU’s offense and success. He has struggled somewhat this year, having yet to crack 100 yds in any of his first three games, but did have 5 rushing TDs in the 1st half last week against FCS opponent Bethune-Cookman.
Randy Shannon will look to stop the run and make the inexperienced Robison try his luck against our very experienced ball-hawking secondary. UCF may give up some big plays deep as Shannon may stack the box to shut FAU down, but letting the Owls run all over us is not an option and a recipe for disaster.
Expect to see a lot UCF defenders crowding the line of scrimmage and forcing penetration into the backfield either to stop the run or pressure the QB. Our DB’s will just have to be better than their receivers if FAU can get passes off in time. A hey will be if UCF can get penetration and pressure with just the front seven.
UCF will have Otis Anderson back returning punts again, with Adrian Killins Jr handling the kickoffs. Both are a threat to go the distance given the chance. Mathew Wright is as reliable a kicker as anywhere in the country, while little-used P Mac Loudermilk has struggled a bit and has yet to find his groove punting. Hopefully, it will be this game, or even better not have to use him at all.
FAU, has speed on both the punt and kickoff returns, with Willie Wright being a particular treat. As for their kicking game, both their kicker and punter are freshmen, and while their kicker seems reliable enough, the Owls punter has also struggled. Look for Kiffin to probably go for a lot of 4th and short yardage in UCF territory if he is trailing.
Inside The Numbers
UCF Off. vs FAU Def. UCF Def. vs FAU Off.
47.0 (16) Points 39.3 (117) 8.5 (6) Points 32.0 (68)
303.0 (28) Pass Yds 237.0 (85) 173.0 (30) Pass Yds 282.0 (40)
306.0 (7) Rush Yds 214.7 (109) 198.5 (102) Rush Yds 187.3 (61)
80.0 (15) Plays 63.0 (27) 79.0 (118) Plays 78.0 (22)
7.6 (11) Yds/Play 7.2 (120) 4.7 (37) Yds/Play 6.0 (58)
Look for UCF to run early and often to get a big lead, taking advantage of their size and speed to overwhelm FAU in front what should be UCF’s first sellout crowd of the season. I expect the Knight’s will be stacking the box and force FAU away from their more reliable run game and put it on the Owls freshman QB to try and beat us. ESPN has the Knights with an 84.9% chance of beating the Owls. I have UCF winning this one in a shootout. Knights by 21, 52-31.
UCF Knights Football Pre-Season Camp Review
State of The UCF Knights: The Zombie Nation Returns
UCF Knights Football 2018 Season Preview