The University of Central Florida are appearing in their third ever American Athletic Conference championship game Saturday afternoon. The still-undefeated Knights will play host to the Memphis Tigers, a team they handily defeated 40-13 earlier this season. Memphis comes in with a 10-1 record, with lone loss to UCF.
However, this is a far different Memphis team than the Knights faced earlier in the year. There’s a few things to watch for in this American Athletic Conference Championship.
High Powered Offense
UCF boasts the number one scoring offense in the nation scoring 48.3 points per game, including putting 49 on in-state rival USF last week. Led by American Athletic Conference Offensive Player of the Year quarterback McKenzie Milton, the Knights have a high powered offensive attack that can move the ball downfield almost at will. They have also scored on their opening possession in 8 of their 11 games so far this season. In addition, UCF holds the longest streak in college football for scoring 30+ points per game at 11 straight games.
Memphis is no stranger to finding the end zone either though. After running the score up to 70 last week against East Carolina, the Tigers are right behind UCF with the second best scoring offense in college football, averaging 47.0 points per game. Since losing to UCF, Memphis has gone on to average nearly 530 yards of offense per game.
Both of these teams have played exceptional defense throughout this season. UCF has the best defense in the American as well as having the number two turnover margin in the nation with a +1.55. Memphis follows suit quite closely as they rank sixth in college football in the turnover margin category with a +1.09. Knowing that both defenses can take the ball away at any moment, it will be a battle to see who can keep possession of the ball and whether or not each team can score points off of any turnovers they create.
Special Teams is Key
As witnessed last week against USF, the Knights place a big piece of importance on special teams. Return man Mike Hughes has done an incredible job at providing this offense with excellent field position, as well as breaking open huge returns for touchdowns. UCF ranks 4th in the nation in kickoff returns as they average 28+ yards per return and 6th in punt returns with an average 15+ yards per return. Hughes also has had 1 punt return for a touchdown and two kickoff returns for touchdowns this season.
With all the distraction going on this week with head coach Scott Frost “reportedly” being interested in some of the open head coaching jobs, UCF will have to be poised and ready for today’s game. The Knights are projected to possibly make the “New Year’s Six” Peach Bowl if they win today against Memphis.
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