Each week during the football season, a few staff contributors will answer five questions regarding the upcoming game ahead. It’s a way to get the staff to come together as well as the rest of Knights Nation, to see if they agree or disagree with the crew at BGB.
In our fourth roundtable of the football season, Jeff Sharon, Jeremy Brener, Eric Lopez, Brian Murphy, and Andrew Gluchov take their seats at the roundtable to answer questions about the UCF Knights and their matchup with that other school in central Florida.
1) What are you most looking forward to about today’s game?
Jeff Sharon (@Jeff_Sharon): The possibility of seeing McKenzie Milton play again, which would also hopefully mean UCF is up big.
Jeremy Brener (@JeremyBrener): I’m looking forward to putting another tally in the win column. No wins come free in college football, especially in 2020. This season has been filled with ups and downs for the Knights, but any win against your biggest rival is a good thing.
Eric Lopez (@EricLopezELO): I am looking forward to seeing if we are going to see something we did not think we see again: McKenzie Milton playing in a football game.
Brian Murphy (@Spokes_Murphy): First, McKenzie Milton. Second, McKenzie Milton. The game is tertiary.
Andrew Gluchov (@StatBoyDrew): I’d like to see the 64-12 point gap from 2007 to be eclipsed while evening up the football series. Those are the only two remaining things the Bulls still have on the Knights in football. They’ve lost the advantage in every other way.
2) What are your thoughts on McKenzie Milton potentially returning to the field?
Jeff: This is the biggest story in college football this year, hands down. Most people who suffer the same injury as KZ end up losing their leg. Not only did he recover, but he has done so enough to run practice squad for a major college football team. That in itself is a miracle. While I wish we could have seen him one more time on the home field, he has earned the right to write the ending to his story at UCF however he wants. If that’s walking off the field he was carried off of on a stretcher two years ago, so be it.
Jeremy: I’ve been calling this for months. The Banneret staff chat is my witness. It’s absolutely picturesque and movie-like for Milton to return to the scene of the crime and take the next step towards being himself again. I really hope he plays. Given how much hype has been thrown to the subject, it’s going to be a letdown if he doesn’t play, especially if UCF grows a huge lead at some point today. I hope for McKenzie’s sake that he plays today, and if not today, then sometime soon.
Eric: I am with Jeremy. I predicted that Milton’s return would come on the same field where he suffered his injury. Quite honestly, that’s the biggest storyline in this game, and expectations have been raised to a higher level as a result of comments by Dillon Gabriel at media availability on Monday and head coach Josh Heupel’s non-denial on Tuesday to the question of if Milton will play in this game.
Brian: I want it. I want it. I want it. I want it. I want it. I want it. I want it. I want it.
Andrew: While McKenzie Milton has been running the scout offense, he hasn’t been taking live hits. I guess we will always be holding our collective breath. If Alex Smith can do the impossible and come back, McKenzie Milton can do the near impossible and come back. I look forward to seeing him get that personal monkey off his back and get back on the field, even if it’s just some garbage time. Field time is field time.
3) Which UCF Knight will shine brightest today?
Jeff: I’m looking forward to Greg McCrae having a big day. It might be his final time in a UCF uniform, and nobody deserves to have a monster game to close out a great career than he does. He’s been the team’s glue on the field.
Jeremy: McKenzie Milton. Whether he throws for five touchdowns or plays a single snap, making his way on to the field today is a huge moment for him and for the teammates that have seen him through every step of his recovery process. However, a deep touchdown from McKenzie to Marlon Williams would be the icing on the cake.
Eric: If you are a UCF quarterback from the state of Hawaii, odds are you will shine in this game. Dillon Gabriel should be able to carve up a depleted USF secondary and set the stage for Milton’s appearance once the result has been decided.
Andrew: From a stat standpoint, Dillon Gabriel should have a field day. From a record standpoint, Greg McCrae is in position to jump up a few spots on the UCF all-time rushing list and cement his status as one of the greats. From a sentimental standpoint, if Milton gets on the field for even a snap, he will shine the brightest.
4) Name one USF player UCF needs to keep an eye on.
Jeff: I’ve got nothing. I was going to say Johnny Ford but he dipped out on them and into the transfer portal. It’s not really about them anyway.
Jeremy: QB Jordan McCloud is a dual threat and UCF has been so-so against that type of quarterback this season. Hopefully this is more of a Re-al Mitchell or Clayton Tune situation than a Desmond Ridder.
Eric: It’s hard to choose because of the Bulls’ COVID issues. We really do not know who will suit up for the Bulls. So, I’ll add Noah Johnson, who played maybe the best game of any Bulls QB over the past two years when he went 20 for 29 for 217 yards and two touchdowns in a near-upset of Memphis. He may start (if he’s available to play) and could threaten the Knights’ pass defense.
Brian: Nope. Scouting USF players isn’t what this game is about. And unfortunately, the Bulls have been so diminished by opt outs, transfers, COVID cases and injuries, I’m not even going to try to feign excitement for anyone on the other sideline. Only one player truly matters in this game.
Andrew: The cupboard is pretty bare in Tampa. Like Jeff, I was hoping to see Johnny Ford in action, but he is no longer part of the program. Cornerback Daquan Evans has a knack for the ball and leads the team with three interceptions and a defensive touchdown. Let’s see how he lines up against UCF’s talented receiver corps.
5) Score prediction.
Jeff: Fine, I’ll do it: UCF 64, South Florida 12.
Jeremy: UCF 57, USF 21
Eric: While the Knights have dominated the rivalry since 2017, they have not had a big blowout win over USF, a la the Bulls’ 64-12 victory in 2007. This sets up as an opportunity for the Knights to name the score. I name it UCF 56, USF 14
Brian: UCF wins by the very official score of “a lot” to “a little.” Honestly, this game shouldn’t be anywhere close to close if the Knights actually show up.
Give me McKenzie or give me death.
Andrew: The specter needs to be put to rest. UCF 63, South Florida 10.