UCF came so close to grabbing the brass ring against #6 Texas, only to fall short 35-32. The Knights look to get back on the winning track this Saturday as they begin Conference USA play versus Memphis.
While many fans are still talking about the near-miss against the Longhorns, head coach George O'Leary knows that these conference games are the ones that will most dictate where and if UCF (1-1, 0-0) will play in the postseason. This game starts a very interesting stretch for UCF in which they alternate conference and non-conference tilts over the next 6 games. UL-Lafayette, East Carolina, USF, and Tulsa follow the Memphis game.
While UCF is trying to get over their Texas-sized hangover, coach Tommy West and his Tigers (1-1, 0-0) are looking for their second win after beating down 1-AA/Football Championship Subdivsion foe Jacksonville State, 35-14. This being the conference opener for both teams, it's vital for both schools to get the job done early on.
Having said that, I feel that UCF will get over their loss to Texas and take it to the Tigers 41-14. This preview will be broken down into two parts. Part 1 will tell you my reasons UCF will win this game.
UCF Will Win Because...
All over the UCF campus, Knight fans are raving about their running attack, which is 2nd in C-USA and averages 199 yards per game. UCF currently boasts the nation's leading rusher in junior RB Kevin Smith (Miami, FL/Southridge) who is fresh off a 149 yard, 2 TD performance versus Texas last Saturday. He is so revered in Orlando, that fans have dubbed him "24K," because his running style is nothing but solid gold for the Black and Gold Nation.
In order for the Knights to get back in the win column, they will have to ride on the back of Smith and the running game to control the clock and keep the Memphis's spread offense off the field. Senior QB Kyle Israel (Orlando/University) needs to continue to manage the ballgame and not make any mistakes so UCF can establish the play-action pass to WRs Rocky Ross (Jacksonville, FL/Bolles) and Kamar Aiken (Hollywood, FL/Chamanide-Madonna).
On the defensive side, the Knights get a big boost with the return of junior LB Cory Houge (Naples, FL/Naples) who missed the first two games due to a foot injury. The fan support for the team will be key, especially considering that Memphis isn't as sexy a team and name as was Texas. Anything more than 35,000 fans at the Bright House will be exciting to see for this UCF fan, and no amount of water will satisfy UCF fans' thirst to get a "W" against the Tigers.
Coming up soon...Part 2