UCF Knights Face Huge Test Against Marshall Sunday Night

Allen LevinCorrespondent IINovember 1, 2009

MEMPHIS, TN - DECEMBER 29: Kyle Israel #7 of the UCF Knights warms up before the game against the Mississippi State Bulldogs on December 29, 2007 at the Liberty Bowl Memorial Stadium in Memphis, Tennessee. The Bulldogs beat the Knights 10-3. (Photo by Joe Murphy/Getty Images)
Joe Murphy/Getty Images

After seven games of football, the UCF Knights have proven themselves as a decent ball club. They stand at 4-3 overall and at 2-2 in the conference, they still have a prime shot to compete for the C-USA Championship.

They can help their chances at gaining the top spot in the East division Sunday night when they square off with rival Marshall at Bright House Networks Stadium. The Thundering Herd stand at second place in the league with a 3-1 conference record. They are coming off two straight C-USA victories over Tulane and UAB.

The Knights are coming off of an impressive 49-7 blowout Win over Rice, in which wide receiver AJ Guyton led the team with 103 receiving yards and one touchdown, to go along with a 36-yard touchdown pass. Senior transfer Brett Hodges contributed with 145 passing yards and one touchdown on eight-of-13 throwing.

UCF used a potent offense to overwhelm a weaker Rice squad. The Knights will need to deliver a similar performance against Marshall if they want to down the Herd.

UCF will need to utilize their running game to punish the Marshall defense. The Knights will look to pound the ball with running back Brynn Harvey, who is coming off a 71-yard performance on 12 carries last week against Rice.

The Knights will also need to use their stellar rush defense to stop Marshall's running attack. Thundering Herd back Darius Marshall is second in Conference-USA in rushing with 952 yards and 10 touchdowns.

Fortunately, UCF leads the conference in most rush defense categories, including least points per game, least yards per game, and least rush yards per game. They also lead the league in sacks. So, the Knights will look to utilize that to stop Marshall and his ground attack.

If the Knights can get a solid game from Harvey, combined with a strong defensive performance, and a reliable outing by Hodges, then UCF shouldn't have a problem taking care of Marshall on their home field in Orlando.

This is a big test for UCF in their quest to win their second C-USA Championship in the last three years. Marshall is a good team and the Knights will have to bring their best to down their Conference rival.

Another fortunate fact for the Knights is that they lead the all-time series with the Thundering Herd 4-3, with UCF winning every meeting since the two teams joined Conference-USA in 2005.

Hopefully, the Knights can improve on that record and elevate in the C-USA standings with a win over Marshall on Sunday night in front of a national audience on ESPN.