Two of the most successful group of five programs over the past year are set to go head to head in this week four matchup. FAU has won 12 out of their last 13 and UCF has won their last 15. This was one of the most talked about games of the offseason that lost a little bit of its luster after Oklahoma routed FAU 63-14 to start the season. With UCF as their last game before conference play, FAU has a very strong chance of finishing as a 10-win team. This would be a big win for the Knights to have on their resume.
The 16th-ranked Knights and the Owls will kick off at 7 p.m. at Spectrum Stadium in Orlando, Florida.
UCF leads 1-0.
Last meeting: 2003. FAU was an FCS school in their 3rd season as a program under Howard Schnellenberger the only time these two teams met. UCF was on their way to a 3-9 season, one of those wins coming against the Owls, 33-29, in a game that was a lot closer than most expected it to be. Ryan Schneider threw for a still school-record 497 yards and 3 touchdowns while Brandon Marshall and Mike Sims-Walker both had 100+ yard games. Matt Prater tallied two field goals and even punted twice. The game came down to a fourth down stop by UCF's defense after FAU recovered an onside kick. This would be the last season before George O'Leary was hired as head coach.
FAU Coming In
Under the leadership of Lane Kiffin, FAU has turned into one of the premier group of five programs. The Owls finished 11-3 last season, capped off by a C-USA Championship and a Boca Raton Bowl victory. After being blown out by Oklahoma to start the season, the Owls won a close game with Air Force followed by an expected beatdown of Bethune-Cookman last week.
When UCF Has the Ball
UCF Offense: Ready to bounce back. It's amazing that a 38-point, 566-yard performance is considered "struggling" for this offense. In reality, #UCFast did not play their best game against South Carolina State two weeks ago. McKenzie Milton struggled against the Bulldogs but I fully expect him to return to form this Friday. UCF comes into this game 2nd in the nation in yards per game (609) behind Texas Tech.
A rare sight, McKenzie Milton throwing 3 picks in Saturday's win over— Pat Clarke (@PatClarke39) September 11, 2018
SC State....and a common-sense explanation on why from head coach Josh Heupel Monday.... pic.twitter.com/RndoOuBeTB
FAU Defense: Early Struggles. Aside from giving up 63 points and 650 yards to Oklahoma, the Owls have struggled to keep opponents off the board. FAU has given up 55 total points over their last two games to Air Force and Bethune-Cookman (FCS). They've given up 10.3 yards per attempt through the air which is 5th worst in the country while allowing opposing QB's to complete 68.1% of their passes, which is 7th-worst. They've also struggled to stop the run, ranking in the bottom 20 in yards allowed per carry, yards allowed per game and rushing touchdowns allowed.
When FAU Has the Ball
FAU Offense: Their bread and butter. The reason FAU has had so much success is that they have an explosive offense. They were one of 8 teams who averaged more than 40 points per game last season, along with UCF, who led the nation. Their star running back, Devin Singletary, rushed for almost 2,000 yards with 32 touchdowns last season. Their freshman QB Chris Robinson has played well so far this year, but their offense production relies on if Singletary can get going or not.
UCF Defense: Own the trenches. If UCF wants to win this game, their defensive line is going to have to dominate the line of scrimmage. They're going to face one of the best running backs in the nation, a test like they haven't seen yet. This defensive unit hasn't done an exceptional job of shutting down the run game this season but it's going to have to be a point of emphasis going into Friday night.
Weather: Clear skies and a 10% chance of rain is expected for Friday evening in Orlando. It will be humid and warm, something both of these teams are accustomed too.
Line: UCF is a 13½ point favorite
Pick: UCF 52, FAU 31