In our latest roundtable of the football season, special guest contributor Kyle Nash joins Jeff Sharon and Andrew Gluchov at the roundtable to answer questions about the UCF Knights and their matchup with the Temple Owls at noon on Saturday.
1. UCF is an 11-point favorite on the road. You like those odds?
Jeff Sharon (@Jeff_Sharon): I hate big road numbers, especially with a backup QB still in there for UCF. But Temple is really struggling. They have only beaten Wagner, 2-6 Akron, and Memphis (by 3 at home). The last two weeks, they’ve been outscored 86-17 combined by Cincinnati (OK) and South Florida (Yikes). So this line says more about Temple than UCF.
Andrew Gluchov (@StatBoyDrew): They’re a little steep on the spread. This spread would make more sense if Dillon Gabriel was back, but with the natural assumption that three points goes to the home team’s spread, they’re really saying UCF is better by two touchdowns. In reality, they’re right, and while UCF should win comfortably, Vegas is being a little ambitious here with such a big spread. I guess getting stomped by South Florida really makes you look bad.
Kyle Nash (@TheSoTG): With the way Matt Lee and company have been opening holes for Isaiah Bowser and the running back corps in concert with a rejuvenated defense, 11 might be a smidge low. If J-Flash is available and gets the big plays Coach Malzahn has been aching for in press conferences, it might be more appropriate to call for 17 as the spread.
2. Temple is 4th in the nation in pass yards allowed. So should UCF bother throwing?
Jeff: Well, you should do it to keep them honest. But this game feels like an Isaiah Bowser special. He hasn’t looked totally 100% since coming back from the injury he suffered against Louisville, but with Temple coming in at 125th against the run (221 yards per game) and UCF at 26th in the nation in rushing offense (207 yards per game), I say don’t get cute. Make them stop what you’re good at.
Andrew: South Florida showed us last week that you can run on Temple. Run all day and let it set up the pass. Mikey Keene still does not seem to be in sync with his receivers on deep routes, so while this is a good opportunity to try things out on a bad defense, you also want to get a solid footing on the fundamentals. You need to stick to the development plan and continue to allow Keene to gain trust. In the end, he’s the one deciding who he throws the ball to.
Kyle: While it may not be necessary to secure the win, expect Mikey Keene to get high percentage opportunities to keep Temple from stacking the box and putting further wear on Bowser and the backs. I’d target Keene at 150 yards passing — especially if Jaylon Robinson is back.
3. Temple’s offense is offensive. Who should have a good day on defense?
Jeff: Well, they don’t run well (112th in FBS) and they don’t throw well either (80th in passing offense). I think this could be a Bryson Armstrong special. He has been all over the place this season, leading UCF in tackles with 60 out of that hybrid DB/LB position. He also has broken up two passes. I’d expect to hear his name a lot today.
Andrew: Since coming back from injury, Tatum Bethune has been a man possessed. He had some tackling issues earlier in the year, missing an uncharacteristically high number of tackles, but he’s really tightened it up since coming back. The linebackers play such an important role. He and Bryson Armstrong will be busy. I also expect the defensive backfield to have a fourth straight game of good defense. They have seemed to have found “it”.
Kyle: Nothing ground breaking here. Tatum Bethune will go crazy tackling again, but look for Justin Hodges to build on his solid and relatively unnoticed performance from last week.
4. Which UCF-Temple game from the past gives you the most anxiety?
Jeff: [Shuttering in a fetal position at the mere thought of P.J. Walker]
Andrew: 2013. UCF needed a miracle to come back and win that game. It came in the form of J.J. Worton and “The Catch”:
Blake Bortles helped set things up on the ensuing drive and Matty Ice finished it off. The magical 2013 season nearly got derailed against Temple of all teams. That would almost be as mind-boggling as UCF losing to UConn the next season.
Kyle: Any of them in recent history where they live up to the #TempleTough label. The last thing UCF needs in this game are more injuries or any re-injuries for returning players.
5. Score predictions!
Jeff: Might be another ugly one but I’ll take that dub. 29-10, UCF.
Andrew: UCF should win comfortably 28-10.
Kyle: With UCF’s offense limiting the time of possession of an already inept Temple offense, don’t expect the Owls to score more than 10. The ground game keeps the clock running and Ryan O’Keefe punches in big plays with 100+ purpose yards leading to a 38-10 result in favor of the Knights.