College Football Picks Week 3: UCF's Defense Shuts Down FIU's T.Y. Hilton
The UCF Knights head to Miami on Saturday to take on the FIU Golden Panthers. The game will be available at ESPN3.com and kickoff is set for 6:00 PM EDT. Both teams are undefeated so far in the 2011 season, and both are coming off wins against AQ BCS conference teams. Both teams won their conference championship in 2010 and their respective bowl games. Both teams have explosive offenses led by standout players from Miami.
This has all the makings of a tremendous college football game, but let's look at the key differences that set the teams apart.
Heisman Hopeful T.Y. Hilton Leads an Impressive FIU Air Attack Offense
Senior WR T.Y. "Goodbye" Hilton amassed 333 yards on 14 receptions in FIU's first two games this season. He's averaging 23.8 yards per reception with his longest being an 83-yard touchdown. He has three touchdown grabs so far this year and added 49 rushing yards on two carries just for good measure. He led an impressive offensive attack against Louisville last week and opened the field with two deep touchdown receptions of 83 and 74 yards.
Senior QB Wesley Carroll threw for 441 yards in the first two games and he boasts an impressive 69.8 completion percentage. His passer rating of 178.9 is 15th in the FBS and first in the Sun Belt Conference. It certainly doesn't hurt that his favorite target is the No. 1 receiver in the country.
Darriet Perry and Kedrick Rhodes split carries for the Panthers and each have two rushing TDs while racking up 112 and 93 yards respectively in the first two games.
Junior LB Winston Fraser showed the team's defensive edge with a 71-yard interception return.
The Panthers definitely have some offensive weapons and are rolling so far this season. Their offense will be challenged this week as they face the No. 2 defense in the country.
Miami Prep Star and 2010 Freshman All-American Jeff Godfrey Leads UCF's Offense
UCF has the No. 2 defense in the country, but their offense is no slouch either. UCF scored 92 total points in the first two games led by the fast feet and quick decisions of QB Jeff Godfrey.
Godfrey has 287 passing yards and a 74.3 completion percentage with no interceptions. Doesn't sound as impressive as Carroll's stats until Godfrey's rushing stats are mentioned. He is second on the team in rushing yards with 115 and leads the team with five rushing touchdowns (running through All-American LB Luke Kuechly in his most recent).
Godfrey leads the five-headed Hydra with TBs Ronnie Weaver, Latavius Murray, Brynn Harvey, and Kerlon Williams. The five have combined for 478 yards rushing and 11 touchdowns in just two games.
Behind Godfrey is RS Freshman QB Blake Bortles who boasts a completion percentage of 80 with 144 yards. He relieved Godfrey in both games when the offense had established the win as did the majority of the second and third teams. FIU played its first teams only with some substitutions in their first two games.
UCF also has a handful of speedy receivers in Quincy McDuffie (fourth fastest in FBS), AJ Guyton, JJ Worton, and Josh Reese.
Godfrey and Reese were teammates at Miami Central High and are great friends. They make their return to FIU Stadium where they played high school football together for four years.
Reese leads all receivers with 97 yards in just four receptions. All four have a combined 298 receiving yards over the two games. TE Adam Nissley has also joined in the mix, adding 87 yards and is second on the team in receiving yards.
Kicker Nick Cattoi is an impressive 100 percent on field goals and extra points this year, adding another dimension to the special team's offense.
This Is Not Josh Robinson's First Rodeo
CB Josh Robinson held Georgia WR AJ Green to 77 yards and no touchdowns in UCF's Liberty Bowl victory in 2010. He also shut down SMU WR Aldrick Robinson in the Conference USA Championship game.
Robinson, a 2009 Freshman All-American and All-Conference defensive back, is a football writer's favorite. He started this season on five watch lists and will be scrutinized in this game by the voters of the Hornung Award for his coverage of Hilton.
Robinson antagonizes receivers and quarterbacks every game. His cover skill repeatedly causes quarterbacks to avoid his side of the field. Robinson led all freshman in 2009 with six interceptions and managed two more in 2010 in spite of the avoidance factor. As of this season, he already has one touchdown return as well as a tip assist.
“A shut-down guy, really strong in run support as well,” FIU coach Mario Cristobal said recently in a Miami Herald interview. “Really physical. He gets his hands on you and can run with you. He’s a bigger guy, too—195, 200 pounds. He’s a complete corner.”
While UCF respects all opponents, they approach this game with confidence in their ability to win. The success of FIU's passing game will take a break on Saturday when UCF's smothering defense comes to town. Look for the Knight's offense to put up some big numbers as well. You can expect a large visiting crowd at The Cage chanting "Lance 'em, Knights!"