It's almost here: The St. Petersburg Bowl commences this Saturday at 8:00 PM on ESPN Central Florida vs. the Rutgers Scarlet Knights. Both teams come into the St. Petersburg Bowl with an 8-4 record and an impressive team lineups. Here we take a look at the Knights' key players in St. Petersburg and what the Knights need to do to secure a bowl win against the advantageous Big East Scarlet Knights.
As the quarterback and backbone of the team, No. 6 senior Brett Hodges is a key player in the bowl game. With a 61.1 pass percentage, 2,263 yards, and 15 touchdowns, Hodges has had a very good season, but still has room to improve in the St. Petersburg Bowl. The biggest concern? The percent passes completed and interception count, which is currently at 11. If Hodges can make plays to his key receivers, keep sacks and interceptions at a bare minimum, he has the opportunity to be a hero for the UCF Knights.
Harvey has been a top tale for the Knights this season, with 14 touchdowns and over 1,000 yards. He's the most impressive running back the Knights have to offer and will surely be making many plays this Saturday. If Rutgers is looking to stop the Knights, they will have to stop Brynn Harvey.
Aiken has been the wide receiver story this year, with seven touchdowns and 545 yards. The Knights' receiving game, however, is less impressive than the running game and the black and gold should see more action at Brynn Harvey than Kamar Aiken. However, if Hodges is able to capitalize on Aiken, the team will be able to put up big points against the Rutgers defense.
The Knights Defense
A tough Knights defense has been able to keep the numbers down against them, with leaders like LB Cory Hogue, T Jah Reid, and DE Jarvis Geathers leading the squad. Keeping Rutgers freshman QB Tom Savage down will be tough, as the team put up high numbers each game, but with a dazzling Knights defense to be had, I believe the Knights will be able to keep Rutgers to at the very least a 35-point minimum.
Areas to Watch Out For
The First Half
We all know about the elusive first half that seemed to plague the Knights during the first half of the season. Luckily, the Knights have seemed to exorcise the demon and should have no problem coming out of the chute in the first half against Rutgers. They must keep in mind, however, their past.
A Snow Balling Team Attitude
There are no signs of snow in St. Petersburg this Saturday night, but after getting pounded, the Knights seem to have a snow balling team attitude, with plays harder to execute as the team's attitude goes downhill. QB Brett Hodges has reported an intensity in the Knights' demeanor as they have continued to get ready for the game and the Knights have matured as the season has gone on in managing their emotions. It will take a downright explosive Rutgers offense to bring UCF down, but it is possible.
Changing Team Momentum with the Changing of QBs
It seems only right that Brett Hodges start and finish the St. Petersburg Bowl on December 19. Switching to Rob Calabrese mid-game is going to do nothing for the Knights. Fans can be sure that there will be no quarterback switch, but the flip flopping the Knights did in the beginning of the season, signals that anything can go will go with the Knights' coaching staff.
There aren't any real tricky problems to be solved in the Knights' quest for a bowl win against Rutgers. The key players must play their heart out, as they will. The difference though, is in one team's execution over another and the UCF Knights will need to be nearly flawless to pull off their first bowl win in the team's history.