Game Preview: Temple at #12 UCF

Temple Owls (5-3) at #12 UCF Knights (7-0)

  • Start Time: Thursday, November 1, 7:30 p.m. EST
  • Location: Spectrum Stadium, Orlando, FL
  • TV: ESPN
  • Line: UCF -10.0 (as of 10/30/18; opened at -12)
  • FPI: UCF 84.1% win probability
  • O/U: 60.5
  • Series: 3-2 UCF

Uniforms

The UCF Knights will don space-themed uniforms for the second year in a row. If you haven’t seen them, stop what you’re doing and go here.

#12 UCF Knights

Coming off their bye week, the 12th-ranked UCF Knights return to action in a prime-time match-up against the resurgent Temple Owls.
The biggest factor for the Knights in their stretch run will be the health of star quarterback McKenzie Milton, who was a game-time scratch when the Knights played at East Carolina. Head Coach Josh Heupel indicated Milton is currently day-to-day and stated the QB would be a game-time decision again this week.
Should Milton not play, Darriel Mack Jr. should get the nod. Starting at ECU, Mack performed relatively well in his first ever start, passing 12-20 for 69 yards and rushing for 120 yards and a TD on 22 carries. Most importantly, Mack took care of the football with no turnovers and seemed to have a good grasp on the offensive scheme. Some early drops and improper routes made it seem as if Mack was frazzled, but another week of reps with the 1st-team offense should help in case he gets his second start.
The Knights’ defense has given up an average of 395.4 yards and 18.1 points per game. While UCF has given up large plays at times this year (ranking 72nd in total defense), the Knights rank 15th in the nation in scoring defense. Also, the defense already has 18 takeaways and has kept scoring minimal in the red zone, ranking 18th in the nation in red zone defense.
The Knights’ special teams continues to perform consistently, with place kicker Matt Wright perfect on the season so far kicking field goals. Punter Mac Loudermilk is averaging 41.9 yards per punt and even has completed a pass on a successful two-point conversion attempt.

Temple Owls

The Temple Owls visit the Knights off of a bye week having defeated the previously unbeaten, 20th-ranked Cincinnati Bearcats in OT in their last game. After beginning the season with home losses against FCS Villanova and Buffalo from the MAC, the Owls have won 5 of 6, including a road beatdown of Maryland.
On offense, the Owls will be formidable, especially if they get Ryquell Armstead back from injury, who is also a game-time decision. Armstead has averaged 5.1 yards per carry when he was healthy. Temple averages a respectable 30.5 points per game (57th in nation) while giving up 21.4 (31st in nation). While the offense has moved the ball well, turnovers have been an issue with the Owls’ QBs throwing 14 overall INTs on the year and the team giving up 3 fumbles.
On defense, the Owls’ strength is their front 7. The Owls average 3 sacks a game, totaling 24 on the year. They also rank 15th in defense in the S&P Ratings, which should be the stiffest test UCF has faced to date. Temple can struggle to get off the field, though, allowing 3rd-down conversions at a 40% rate, good enough for 83rd in the nation.

Prediction

The Knights should win to extend the winning streak to 21. A home prime time game with some incredible uniforms and an almost sold-out crowd should be enough. BUT. The unknowns prior to this game make the outcome difficult to predict, so I’ll offer two possible scenarios:
#12 UCF 38 – Temple 24
In this case, UCF returns Milton from injury, but his lack of practice reps hinder his sharpness. The Knights still win but by much less than folks think. Temple is held to fewer points than normal (but only by one score) because UCF’s defense is finally coming together.
Temple 34 – #12 UCF 27
This is worst case scenario for UCF. Milton doesn’t return. Temple’s front 7 cause Mack to make a couple mistakes. UCF’s defense has difficulty stopping an inspired Armstead who returns and gashes the Knights.

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