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UCF vs. South Carolina State Preview: Home Sweet Home

#19 UCF opens home slate against FCS Bulldogs

Adrian Killins (Photo: Derek Warden)
Adrian Killins (Photo: Derek Warden)

The Knights are looking for their 15th straight win, which would extend the longest active win streak in the country. Come Saturday, it will be 630 days since UCF last lost a football game. With an FCS opponent in town, it doesn't seem like they're in danger of that changing. We know Josh Heupel and his offense are going to put a lot of points on the board, but can the defense rebound and have a dominating outing?


Kickoff

The 19th-ranked Knights and the Bulldogs will kick off at 6 p.m. on Spectrum Stadium in Orlando, Florida.

TV

  • ESPN3
  • Commentators: Eric Rothman and former Rutgers head coach Doug Graber

Series

UCF leads 2-0.

Last meeting: 2016. This was the much-anticipated debut of Coach Scott Frost. Little did UCF fans know what was in store from that point forward. Fresh off an 0-12 season, the 38-0 win over FCS SC State was a breath of fresh air for Knights fans. For this game, McKenzie Milton was third on the depth chart and Shaquem Griffin was starting for the first time. It's incredible how much has changed since then.

Three Things You Should Know

Goose egg: UCF and South Carolina State have met two times in the past resulting in the Bulldogs being shut out both times. The teams first met in 2008 when UCF won 17-0. They wouldn't meet again until the First Frost in 2016 where UCF won 38-0. Can UCF continue the streak this Saturday?

9-2: That's UCF's record in home openers at Spectrum Stadium. Their two losses came against Texas in 2007, the first game played in Spectrum, and against FIU during that dreadful 2015 winless season. In total, the Knights are 30-9 in home openers and sport a 50-20 all-time record at Spectrum Stadium.

#HIsman: Going into week one, Bovada gave McKenzie Milton 35/1 odds of winning the Heisman. After week one, those odds have increased to 11/1 and 6th best.

SC State Coming In

The Bulldogs are an FCS team coming to face a top-25 FBS team on the road. I don't think there's anyone expecting anything close to an upset, including SC State themselves. Coming off a 3-7 season in 2017, the Bulldogs suffered a 37-6 loss against Georgia Southern last weekend to start their 2018 campaign. Buddy Pough is in his 17th and final season as head coach for this program. He owns a 120-65 all-time record.

When UCF Has the Ball

UCF Offense: Faster than before? The Knights had a whopping 652 yards of offense against UConn last week. The scary part of their performance is that they did it in under 22 minutes. That's right, this offense had nearly 700 yards and 57 points while being off the field for 65% of the game. They showed they can score fast and make huge plays through the air and on the ground. It's very possible that Heupel's offense is even more explosive than what we saw last season.

SC State Defense: Experience is key. The Bulldogs have a lot of experience when it comes to their defensive starters. 8 out of their 11 starters are upperclassmen which is the complete opposite of what UCF saw from UConn. SC State was able to hold Georgia Southern, who run an option offense, to 348 yards last week. Their secondary was not tested in that game but they sure will be this week against McKenzie Milton and company.

When SC State Has the Ball

SC State Offense: I'll try to be nice about it. This SC State team is very bad on offense. They only had 151 total yards in their opener against Georgia Southern, most of it coming on the ground. They had 3 different quarterbacks play who combined for 2 complete passes on 10 attempts with 1 interception. Tyrece Nick, who played most of the game, did have 66 yards rushing and a touchdown on 21 attempts. He could pose a threat to UCF if he can mirror what David Pindell was able to accomplish last week for UConn.

UCF Defense: Wrap up. Any time you can walk away with a conference win while giving up only 17 points is a success in my book. Randy Shannon's defense made plays when they mattered most, forcing 3 turnovers. The biggest issue for this unit was missed tackles. David Pindell was running all over this defense. If the Knights are going to be successful on that side of the ball, they're going to need to improve their tackling. SC State's quarterback(s) will pose the same scrambling threat UCF saw last week. The Knights need to prove they can shut that down.

Final Details

Weather: It's still Florida in the summertime so you can expect there to be scattered thunderstorms in the forecast. There is a 45% chance of rain at kickoff. It should be 84 degrees with a heat index of 91. Make sure to stay dry and hydrated if you're attending the game!

Pick: UCF 68, South Carolina State 3