It wasn’t an unexpected result, as UCF won for the third straight time in the rivalry matchup with USF, 34 – 7 Friday night in Orlando. The bigger question is: was it the end for third-year Bulls coach Charlie Strong?
First to the game. The Knights got what they needed in the first half, as freshman quarterback Dillon Gabriel led them on three scoring drives to build a 21 – 0 lead from which USF never recovered. Gabriel threw two touchdown passes to his favorite target this season, receiver Gabe Davis (above), and the lead grew to 24 – 0 at the half.
The same pattern continued with USF’s offense as has been the case for much of this season. The Bulls mounted a little to nothing offensively throughout the game until finally breaking through, when running back Johnny Ford scored on a fourth-and-goal late in the third quarter. That trimmed the lead to 24 – 7.
However, Backup QB Darriel Mack led the next Knights answer going 82 yards in 8 plays with Mack carrying two yards for UCF’s final TD of the evening and all but, putting the game away.
The win was UCF’s ninth on the season and they await to find out what bowl game the American Conference will slot them in. This is the first time in three years that the Knights have not played in the championship game of the American Conference. They won the previous two defeating the Memphis Tigers both times and ended up playing in a New Year’s Six bowl game each time, as well.
That included their loss in the Fiesta Bowl to LSU a year ago, which stopped their 25 game win streak.
Back to the Bulls, the loss was their fourth straight to end the year and Strong’s team limped to the finish line at 4 – 8. When you combine this season with losing the remaining six games a year ago, that’s 14 losses in the last 18 games played for Strong’s teams. Friday night was also the fifth loss by 27 points or more for USF this season.
So now, we all wait to see if USF Athletic Director Michael Kelly, who was hired last year, will get rid of the former Texas and Louisville coach or give him one final shot to turn it around in 2020?
Strong is reportedly owed at least $5 million for the remaining two years on his five-year deal that he agreed to in December of 2016.
UCF WR Gabe Davis will turn pro
Next year’s UCF offense took a big hit Wednesday , but in the long run, the player leaving may help the program with more publicity at the next level.
Star wide receiver Gabriel Davis has decided to forgo his senior season and enter the upcoming NFL draft.
— Gabriel Davis (@DavisGB1) December 4, 2019
Davis is a true “Florida Boy” growing up in Sanford, and playingl ball at Seminole High school. He has been dominant in his time at UCF, has become one of the best wideouts in the state, arguably the best in his conference and one of the more underrated players in the country.
His numbers have improved each season. As a freshman, he had 27 catches for 391 yards and four touchdowns. As a sophomore, he had 53 catches for 815 yards and seven touchdowns. Then, this season Davis had 72 catches for 1,241 yards and 12 touchdowns.
Last season Davis finished on the American All-conference second team. This year, however, he finds himself on the first team and will hope the accolades don’t stop there.
Davis has all of the prototypical traits to be an “X” receiver in the NFL. He has the size at 6’3, but could work on his frame, getting up his listed weight at 212 pounds. In the passing league that is the NFL, teams are always looking for someone with big play ability. Davis is just that, averaging 16 yards a catch for his career.
He has the ability to take the top of a defense with his size and speed, which will intrigue scouts. One area of his game he will likely work on in the offseason will be running after the catch.
We all know his ability to kill you downfield, but scouts will also want to see what he can do catching a short pass. With an absolutely stacked class at the position, it will be interesting to see where Davis goes when the draft rolls around.
Already underrated being from an AAC school expect that to continue during draft time, but also expect him to rise to the occasion.
UCF tries to get swagger back leading our college primer
Week 13 of the college football season will give us a cross-town showdown and a lot of pride on the line across the state. Miami and Florida International will hit the baseball diamond against each other in Marlins Park. UCF will travel to Tulane, and USF will host the top seed in the American West, Memphis. Plus, Florida Atlantic will head to Texas to take on UT-San Antonio.
The Hurricanes and Panthers will be playing each other for the fourth time in their history, but it’s the first time at the site of the old Orange Bowl Stadium. The last time these two linked up, the Canes won 31-17 a year ago. The Canes are coming into this game hot. Before the bye week, and behind QB Jarren Williams they were riding a three-game winning streak. Last time out, they put up 52 points against Louisville and will look to pick up where they left off. FIU, on the other hand, comes into this game on having lost two of their last three games, including a blowout loss to rival Florida Atlantic.
UCF will look to bounce back from their loss 13 days ago at Tulsa, blowing that game in the fourth quarter. The Knights will head to Tulane to pay a Green Wave team, which has yet to drop a game at home. Josh Heupel’s team will need the best from QB Dillon Gabriel, who struggled in their most recent loss.
This matchup with the Green Wave has all the makings of what should be a “good ‘ole fashion shootout,” as both teams have high powered offenses capable of big plays at any given moment. After going to a “New Years’ Six” bowl game the last two seasons, UCF will be trying to just get into the best bowl possible this year.
Meanwhile, USF will host the 18th ranked Memphis in the only game involving a top 25 team vs. a state team this week.. For the second week in a row, the Bulls will face one of the top teams in the conference, who is looking to secure a spot in the championship game. After taking Cincinnati to the wire a week ago, the Bulls could face a tougher time this week. The Tigers run the ball very effectively, and that just happens to be Charlie Strong’s Bulls weakest point on defense.
Freshman Kenneth Gainwell has been a force for this Tigers offense, and they have also regained Patrick Taylor Jr. The Bulls will need to force Memphis to pass the ball if they want to win this game. The Bulls will also need to find some offense. They have only scored 20 points combined in their last two games and that won’t be enough to pull the upset.
Florida Atlantic still has a chance to play for the C-USA crown. They will need to win out to have a shot at the East Division and that starts at UT- San Antonio. The Owls are a passing team led by Chris Robinson; however, the run might be their key to victory.
The Roadrunners have the 46th ranked pass defense, but the 108th ranked run defense. FAU was able to exploit the run defense FIU had two weeks ago and should attempt to do the same thing in this game.