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UCF Knights

UCF trying to keep pace in AAC leads our college primer

Jamil King

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David Butler II-USA TODAY Sports
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Week 9 will feature some critical games for the in-state teams. UCF will travel to Temple, a game in which they will be playing for their AAC East lives. Florida State will look to end a two-game losing streak against Syracuse. Miami heads to Pittsburgh looking to avenge their ugly loss to Georgia Tech. And, USF must rebound at East Carolina.

UCF lost more in a two weeks span than they had in the last two seasons. They bounced back last week against ECU in a big way. Now, the real test comes on the road at night against a top tier conference opponent. The Owls are coming off of a loss of their own vs. SMU in a game in which their secondary got exposed.

Shane Buechele had 457 yards and six touchdowns. The Duo of QB Dillon Gabriel and WR Gabe Davis will look to give Temple more headaches through the air for the second week in a row.

Florida State will Host Syracuse after losing another close game last week. James Blackman played the whole game, but after a loss, will he be the lone QB to play in this one? The Noles could turn back to transfer Alex Hornibrook. Either way, the offense will once again go through RB Cam Akers. The do it all back has been the engine for the offense both on the ground and in the passing game this season.

The FSU defense will get a banged-up Tommy DeVito leading the Syracuse offense. He was forced to leave the game against Pittsburgh early, and you can expect the Noles to test him early with some blitzes. The Orange have struggled so far this season after coming in with high expectations. The Noles are running out of games to reach bowl eligibility against a fellow three win team; this is almost a must-win.

Miami is coming into week 9, looking to forget all about week 8. The Canes lost an ugly game in OT they should have won against Georgia Teach. Now, they travel to Pittsburgh to face a Panther team that already has beaten one state school already, when they upset UCF.

The Canes will again roll with N’kosi Perry under center, but could be without running back DeeJay Dallas. Statistically, both teams match up evenly on paper. Both teams come into the game with good defenses, and this could be a low scoring affair.

Finally, the Bulls will limp into Greenville, North Carolina to play ECU. USF was beaten badly last week at Navy giving up over 400 rushing yards. The bigger story is who will QB the Bulls? With veteran Blake Barnett done for the year with ankle surgery and freshman Jordan McCloud, who’s started several games, suffering from wrist and shoulder problems, USF is scrambling.

They will likely have to start sophomore Kirk Rygol, who finished the Navy game last week.

The Bulls have to try to win this game, as they still finish with much tougher teams like Memphis, Cincinnati and at UCF while trying to get to six wins.

Jamil King is a young draft pick working his way up the depth chart on the F.F.I. roster, who enjoys watching and writing about all of Florida’s football teams.

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UCF Knights

American Conference announces UCF-USF will be in prime time

Florida Football Insiders

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Reinhold Matay-USA TODAY Sports

The American Athletic Conference and ESPN have announced game times for the Friday after Thanksgiving, including UCF’s traditional battle with USF set for Orlando.

And unlike the previous two years, the Knights and Bulls will meet in primetime:

In each of the last two years UCF and USF battled in the 3:30 Eastern time slot on the Friday after Thanksgiving on ABC. The game two years ago was as dramatic as the young conference could have hoped. This as it was for a spot in the AAC Championship Game and to keep UCF’s 10-0 unbeaten season alive. The Bulls came into the game 9-1, themselves.

It ended up being one of the highest-rated non-prime time ESPN college football games of the entire season with a massive 3.3 rating and 4.6 million audience for Black Friday. The Knights dramatic kickoff return for a touchdown by Mike Hughes (above) in the final minutes vaulted them into the title game. And, they eventually completed a perfect season, including their Peach Bowl win over Auburn.

A year ago, UCF continued their unbeaten win streak and rolled into Tampa on the Friday after Thanksgiving for an afternoon National TV game at Raymond James Stadium. UCF was in complete command, when suddenly the best player in the American Conference, quarterback McKenzie Milton, had his leg fractured horribly in a second quarter scramble.

The Knights went on to win that game with the Bulls and repeat, as AAC Champions with another victory over Memphis the following week. However, they lost the Fiesta Bowl on January 1st to LSU.

The Bulls have stumbled to a 4 – 6 record and UCF has also suffered three losses to this point, including a stunning collapse 10 days ago at Tulsa. That’s where they were beaten on a last-second field goal despite being 17-point favorites over the Golden Hurricane.

The conference also announced that the two division leading teams Memphis and Cincinnati, who has already beaten UCF and USF, will square off in Memphis at 3:30 in that slot on ABC that the Bulls and Knights occupied the last two years.

Interestingly, both the Bearcats and Tigers may enter that game with only one loss each and may end up rematching each other the following week in the Conference Championship game.

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UCF Knights

UCF holds strong in our latest power rankings

Jamil King

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Reinhold Matay-USA TODAY Sports

A tough loss for the Gators, a big comeback home win for the UCF Knights and a rivalry road win by the Hurricanes are all part of our latest power rankings. Here goes:

Florida Gators- The Gators did lose, but to another top 10 opponent keeping them in the top spot. The Gators dropped this one to the Georgia Bulldogs. The Gators inability to get off the field on third down along with the non-existent running game led to the defeat. Florida rallied twice in the fourth quarter to make it a once score game, but in the end, just couldn’t get off the field.

Now, the Gators need a lot of help to claim the SEC East crown. Even if they don’t, they could still end up in a New Years’ Six bowl game. The Gators will next take on Vanderbilt.

UCF Knights- The Knights continued their winning ways last week by knocking off the Houston Cougars 44-29. QB Dillon Gabriel stayed hot by tossing three touchdowns with 298 yards in the air. Running back, Bentavious Thompson led the team in rushing with 65 yards and two touchdowns. It was Tre Nixon who had the best day of the wideouts, not Gabe Davis.

Nixon (photo above) had six catches for 123 yards and two touchdowns. Next up for UCF is a trip to Tulsa. The Knight’s chances of going to the AAC title game are getting slimmer and slimmer as Cincinnati keeps winning. UCF will look to keep doing their job and control the controllable.

FAU Owls- The Owls secured a big win over Western Kentucky. QB Chris Robinson led the offense with 208 yards passing and two touchdowns. The defense came up big when the Owls needed it the most. With six minutes left in the 4th quarter, James Pierre came away with his second pick of the game.

The Owls are now tied with Marshall for the top spot in the C-USA Eastern division. The Herd won the head to head meeting so they would need to lose again for the Owls to take the crown. Next for FAU is a game against rival Florida International.

Miami Hurricanes- The Canes beatdown on Florida State 27-10 in Tallahassee. In the prosses, they put the icing on the cake for former coach Willie Taggart. Jarren Williams took back the QB1 role and didn’t disappoint. He threw for 313 yards and two touchdowns.

Jeff Thomas came back with a bang with 84 yards and a touchdown. Dee Wiggins and Brevin Jordan were the other two leading receivers. The Canes will look to make it three in a row when Louisville comes to town.

Jacksonville Jaguars- The Jags came back down to earth in London. The Texans took tamed the Jags with a 26-3 drumming across the pond. Deshawn Watson was on fire, only throwing six incompletions and two touchdowns. “Minshew Mania” may be over in Jacksonville, as he was 27-47 with two picks and two fumbles and now they will go back Nick Foles following the bye week.

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