Missouri’s first season in the SEC has not gone smoothly, and the Tigers will look to get a victory over UCF before returning to conference play.
The Knights are 2-1, with their lone loss coming against Ohio State, and they will be extremely motivated to get a win against the last team on their schedule from a major conference.
For Missouri, wins will be hard to come by as their campaign continues, and they will look to build momentum for the tough road ahead.
Here is everything you need to know about the game.
Where: Bright House Networks Stadium, Orlando, Fla.
When: Saturday, September 29, 12 p.m. ET
Watch: Fox Sports Networks
Live Stream: MUTigers.com (Audio)
Betting Line: UCF -2.5 (according to Covers.com)
Missouri Injury Report (via USA Today)
Elvis Fisher: senior offensive lineman is out indefinitely with a knee injury.
Wesley Leftwich: freshman wide receiver is out indefinitely with a foot injury.
Travis Ruth: senior offensive lineman is out for the season after undergoing surgery on his triceps.
Taylor Chappell: freshman offensive lineman is out for the season after tearing his ACL.
Henry Josey: junior halfback is out for the season after tearing his ACL.
UCF Injury Report (via USA Today)
Latavius Murray: senior running back is questionable with a shoulder injury.
BCS/Top 25 Poll Implications
Neither of these teams is in contention to crack the Top 25 polls at this point in the season, and the winner of this game will not stand a chance to move significantly closer to being ranked.
This game will not have any effect on the polls, and the team that wins will need to earn victories against more highly regarded opponents later in the season to improve its standing.
What They’re Saying
ESPN’s Edward Aschoff notes that Missouri is certainly a flawed team, but it still has the necessary firepower to put up points on Saturday.
The Tigers just didn't put up much of a fight against South Carolina. Both the offensive and defensive lines got pushed around and it's looking more and more like the size up front is an issue for this team. Mizzou has too much talent offensively not to get the ball moving, but the Tigers failed to get big plays against South Carolina. You have to wonder what sort of offensive changes might come heading into the Central Florida game.
Iliana Limón Romero of the Orlando Sentinel believes that the Knights’ offense must avoid costly errors for the team to take down Missouri this weekend.
Sophomore quarterback Blake Bortles must help the Knights avoid turnovers. There is no question Bortles has a strong arm and the supporting cast on offense to score points. Bortles has to avoid gambling in the pocket, forcing the same kind of throws that led to three costly interceptions at then-No. 14 Ohio State Sept. 8. While Bortles has turned the ball over the most this season, UCF can’t afford for anyone to cough up the ball.
Missouri Player to Watch: Kendial Lawrence, Running Back
With questions at quarterback due to James Franklin’s shoulder injury, the Tigers will rely on their running game against UFC, and Kendial Lawrence is capable of taking over a game.
The speedy running back has 291 yards on 45 carries and has four touchdowns this season. He can take any play the distance, and he will need to have a big game for his team to win this weekend.
UCF Player to Watch: Kemal Ishmael, Safety
Ishmael is second on the team with 27 tackles and is a vicious hitter when he builds up speed heading downhill. He led the team in tackles a season ago and is a fearsome presence in the secondary.
The senior is always around the ball and he has recovered two fumbles this year. If the Missouri players are careless, he will cause more turnovers in this game.
Key Matchup: Missouri Passing Game vs. UCF Secondary
Led by Ishmael, the UCF secondary is allowing just 188 yards per game through the air. The Tigers have not had consistent play from James Franklin, and Corbin Berkstresser is a freshman.
Missouri’s quarterbacks could easily get flustered on the road, and that will lead to costly mistakes. If the Knights’ defensive backs can establish themselves early, the team stands an excellent chance to win.
Key Storyline: Missouri and the SEC
If Missouri cannot beat UCF, it will raise serious concerns as it starts a stretch of five consecutive conference games that includes matchups with Alabama and Florida.
If the Tigers are not able to get a win against a Conference USA opponent, it may be a long season in the toughest conference in the country.
Prediction: Missouri 28, UCF 27
This will be a closely contested game, but the Tigers will get just enough points to win.
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