Central Florida Looks to Do Some Hootin' and Hollerin' Against Winless Rice Owls

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Central Florida Looks to Do Some Hootin' and Hollerin' Against Winless Rice Owls
(Photo by Brian Bahr/Getty Images)

After an emotional 27-7 loss to Miami last weekend, the University of Central Florida football team (3-3 overall, 1-2 in Conference USA) is looking to bounce back against a 0-7 Rice team and even up their record in conference play.

 

The matchup

The Knights travel to Texas to take on Rice after a loss to No. 10 Miami last weekend. In that game, the Knights’ defense was able to get to quarterback Jacory Harris, sacking him six times, but the offense made critical mistakes in the red zone, leading to the loss.

UCF had an opportunity to pull within a field goal in the third quarter with 1st-and-goal from the 2-yard line, but questionable play calling and a Hodges interception turned the game in Miami’s favor.

Harris ripped apart the UCF defense through the air with 293 yards and a touchdown. The Knights failed to convert a score in the fourth quarter as the Hurricanes dominated the time of possession in the final frame for the win.

The Owls come into the game with a winless record with its latest loss coming at the hands of ECU, 49-13. In that game, Rice allowed 459 yards of total offense to the Pirates, including 173 yards on the ground. The Owls also allowed ECU’s Dwayne Harris to go off, as he torched them for two receiving touchdowns and a 92-yard kickoff return.

 

UCF will win if…

Brett Hodges and the offense can find a rhythm, which shouldn’t be too difficult. Rice’s defense has allowed an average of 45 points per game through seven contests this season and can’t seem to find a way to stop run game. They have allowed an average of just over 209 yards per game on the ground, which ranks 112th in the nation. UAB quarterback Joe Webb ran for 194 yards against the Owls to open to season.

Don’t sit on Hodges and the passing game, either. Rice’s pass defense is just as bad as the rush defense, giving up 261 yards per game, which ranks 109th nationally. They have also allowed opponents to convert on 44 percent of their attempts on third down.

 

Rice will win if…

The Knights turn the ball over. Let’s face it, the only way they can actually lose to an 0-7 team is if they beat themselves. Rice is horrid on both offense and defense and has turned the ball over 16 times this season, which is 103rd nationally. If UCF can find success on offense, disrupt Rice by getting to quarterback Nick Fanuzzi, and avoid making stupid mistakes, they should easily win this game.

 

The last time they played…

Rice lit up the Knight defense for 40 points and defeated UCF, 40-29, at the Citrus Bowl  in 2006 to even up the all-time series at 1-1. Despite UCF quarterback Kyle Israel throwing for 327 yards, the defense couldn’t contain the Owl rushing attack, as running back Quinton Smith rushed for 183 yards and three touchdowns. That victory was the second straight for Rice and was part of a six-game win streak that led to the Owls nabbing a bid in the New Orleans Bowl.

UCF’s only win in its history against Rice came back on Nov. 19, 2005 when the Knights defeated the Owls by a 31-28 score at Rice Stadium. UCF scored 15 points in the fourth quarter for the come-from-behind victory.

 

Keep an eye out for...

How many times Brynn Harvey carries the ball against the Owls. He rushed 12 times for 25 yards against Miami and really didn’t get a chance to break out. In UCF’s three wins this season, Harvey has carried the ball an average of 32 times for 147 yards. In its losses, he has just 14 carries a game for an average of 48 yards.

 

Noteworthy

UCF is one of the most disciplined teams in the nation, ranking 10th in the nation for fewest penalties and 16th nationally in penalty yards.

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