OPPONENT: Central Florida Knights
SB Nation Game Hub: For All the Tostitos...
ODB GAME HUB: 2014 Tostitos Fiesta Bowl
OFFICIAL WEBSITE: UCFKnights.com | UCF Media Guide
2013 ROSTER, DEPTH CHART (no idea how up-to-date this is)
2013 Statistics: From UCFKnights.com (Also available in a .pdf)
LAST MEETING: NEVER PLAYED
LAST GAME (for UCF): 17-13 win over SMU
SB NATION BLOG: n/a
SPREAD: Baylor -16.5
TV COVERAGE: ESPN
BAYLOR UNIFORMS: Unknown!
I've been very happy to see the interaction on this board for UCF fans without a home on the SB Nation network. ODB's commentariat even manged to come up with probably the best name ever for an SB Nation blog, should they get one: The Knights' Watch. How cool is that? Anyway, UCF fans looking for a home for this game continue to be welcome here as long as they like. Let's look at their 2013 schedule:
Knights Football Schedule
|Akron||Thu 08/29||W 38 - 7|
|@ Fla. International||Fri 09/06||W 38 - 0|
|@ Penn St.||Sat 09/14||W 34 - 31|
|South Carolina||Sat 09/28||L 25 - 28|
|@ Memphis||Sat 10/05||W 24 - 17|
|@ Louisville||Fri 10/18||W 38 - 35|
|Connecticut||Sat 10/26||W 62 - 17|
|Houston||Sat 11/09||W 19 - 14|
|@ Temple||Sat 11/16||W 39 - 36|
|Rutgers||Thu 11/21||W 41 - 17|
|South Florida||Fri 11/29||W 23 - 20|
|@ SMU||Sat 12/07||W 17 - 13|
|@ Baylor||Wed 01/01||7:30 PM CST|
The biggest win on the Knights' schedule this year came against Teddy Bridgewater's Louisville Cardinals back on October 18. That Friday night game not only set up the Knights to run the AAC should they win out, it also completely derailed (for reasons that are, at best, objectionable) Bridgewater's Heisman campaign. That game came three weeks after UCF's only blemish, a close loss to the South Carolina Gamecocks at home. Depending on your rooting interests, that close loss may actually be more impressive than the win over Louisville, especially considering the Knights trailed against USCe 28-10 before storming back with 15-straight points in the fourth quarter. The game wasn't really "in doubt" from USCe's perspective, since UCF never had the ball down just one possession, but South Carolina is by any measure a really good team.
This is one of those situations I always talk about where absolute rankings, both defensive and offensive, are misleading. If you take the stats above at face value, Baylor will face a UCF team with a slightly above-average offense and great defense. These stats, however, do not take consider strength of schedule or pace in any way. F/+, which any close observer of the blog knows I trust far more, has it flipped. There UCF ranks 14th in offense and 48th in defense, numbers that probably reflect much more accurately the way the Knights are viewed across the country. It's worth noting that FEI has little respect for the defensive slate UCF has faced this season, ranking their offensive strength of schedule (stick with me) a mere 79th. That is a similar ranking to their defensive strength of schedule, which is 84th. Their overall strength of schedule is ranked 89th, meaning if you think UCF "hasn't really played anyone", you're somewhat right. Thankfully, the efficiency stats from FootballOutsiders take that into consideration where absolute stats cannot.
One place the stats, absolute and advanced, agree is with respect to UCF's passing offense. Junior Blake Bortles, about whom I wrote last week, is one of the best QBs in the country and the owner of the 9th-best passer rating in the NCAA this season at 163.3, about 16 points behind our own Bryce Petty. He has quality receivers in Rannell Hall, Breshad Perriman, and J.J. Worton, the three of whom combined for over 2,000 receiving yards and 13 touchdowns on the year. He also has a very good RB in Storm Johnson, who some compare to Glasco Martin despite the fact that Glasco hates it. Johnson and William Stanback power what S&P+ calls the 10th best rushing attack in the country, so we'd better be ready to see quite a bit of him.
On the whole, F/+ bills this as a matchup between the #7 (Baylor) and #24 (UCF) teams in the country at this point. If that #24 ranking is correct, that makes UCF the second-best team we've played this season, just ahead of #27 Kansas State. As I said above, UCF's offense is ranked much more highly than their defense at #14, and they are especially good on passing downs (#6) vs. standard downs (#25). We'll talk much more about that in the coming days.
- First, where have you guys been lately? I know content slowed down around here, but geez. We'll do better, I promise.
- Second, rumor has it that Bryce Hager will play for Baylor in the Fiesta Bowl. That moves Eddie Lackey back to OLB and effectively substitutes Hager for Brody Trahan. It also means that LT Spencer Drango will be Baylor's only starter missing for this game. On a scale of 1-10, 10 being the top, how excited are you about having Hager back?
- Third, S&P+ ranks UCF's defense 112th on pass downs and the Baylor offense 8th. Their pass defense as a whole 63rd and our passing offense 2nd. Now imagine that Tevin Reese is returning for Baylor after missing the last 4 games. Project Bryce Petty's line for this game.
- Fourth, bowl games are generally considered the perfect time to showcase whatever trick plays you have in your arsenal, since you won't be giving anything away for future weeks. What would you really like to see in this department?
- Fifth, Bortles.