In this edition of the Roundtable that you all have been anxiously waiting for, it’s the most anticipated rivalry of the year:
1. UCF is a 30.5-point favorite. Too much? Not enough? Any looking-ahead potential here?
Jeff Sharon (@Jeff_Sharon): I hate big home numbers. Look, UConn is bad. Their only win was at home by six points against Yale. They lost to Holy Cross in Hartford. Part of me always thinks they know something we don’t and that’s why the number is so high. But I’d just stay away.
As far as looking ahead, yeah, that could happen. Sometimes it does. Which is why I don’t gamble on sports.
Andrew Gluchov (@StatBoyDrew): Vegas has been surprisingly bold with the Knights. (I had a different adjective in mind, but using a bovine reference this close to the War on I-4 is not acceptable.) I guess I shouldn’t be surprised Vegas has such a large spread, but for the sake of betting, it might be a bit too big. They gave Clemson a 40 point spread against the Huskies and UCF gets over 30? Maybe Vegas is betting on a different type of gamble?
Looking ahead is always a concern when a big rivalry game is the following week. No, this is not a rivalry game. It never has been and never will be. If you want to manufacture a rivalry, you need a multi-billion dollar media company backing and promoting it. See UCF and Marshall.
Kyle Nash (@TheSoTG): This number is huge compared to the 20 I would have set, but it’s not out of the realm of possibility that the Knights can cover. Frankly, I think this game is a tune-up opportunity rather than a trap game. Jaylon Robinson only came back last week after a long injury hiatus. This is the game where J-Flash can work to find his legs and the confidence of Mikey Keene can be built up.
Perhaps Mark-Anthony Richards gets a chance to start to see if he has what it takes to be the top running back against USF on Black Friday? Something else that can determine an outcome that covers 30.5. The defense playing solid at home so far is the icing on the cake of potential.
Bryson (@itsBrysonTurner): With everything I’ve seen in college football this season, the potential is certainly there for the spread to be too much. I’m not a fan of big spreads because, but I could see UCF covering as long as they don’t make too many mistakes.
2. There are always rumors about what happened to the COnFliCT Trophy. What do you think happened? Could it make an appearance Saturday?
UPDATE: THEY FOUND IT:
So you may now read the following answers for your own entertainment:
Jeff: One time I actually called the sports information people at UConn in an attempt to determine the whereabouts of the trophy. They said they didn’t know. I don’t know if they were lying to me or not. I think it’s in some dusty closet at Rentschler Field alongside tackling dummies from the 1980s and Randy Edsall’s dignity.
Andrew: If one shows up, it’s not the real one. The real one is hanging out with Jimmy Hoffa. It got carted away after UCF refused to claim it and Bob Diaco took his trophy and went home.
Kyle: :Sigh: So I can be on the record, I think all Knight fans should make like Elsa from Frozen when it comes to the alleged “civil conflict” and “Let it Go”. It was the same course of action then-coach Scott Frost took when he initially left the trophy behind.
That being said. . . Will there be a trophy? No — or at least if UConn admins have a brain there won’t. Why put yourself in the position to be publicly humiliated a second time if and when Gus Malzahn echos the actions of Frost? This is something that all could have originated from an honest mistake, but we in the media have given it a mystique that it does not warrant.
Bryson: I doubt it. It’s almost comical how much of a non-rivalry this matchup is and yet there was an attempt to make it one. That said, I’m all for it showing up if only for the sheer hilarity of it all.
3. So. Dillon Gabriel. Is this happening?
Jeff: I would feel better about it if I heard more between Monday’s presser and today, but I have not. I’m not ruling anything out, though. I still think he’d be smart to start the first half, broil UConn’s secondary four or five TDs, and then sit the bench in the second half and let Mike Keene play out the string. That’s just me though.
Andrew: Until he’s on the field taking a snap, it hasn’t happened. Considering Jaylon Robinson practiced for some time before getting into a game, I’ll believe it when I see it.
Kyle: Once again . . . IT’S A TRAP!! At this point, I can’t blame UCF fans for having their hopes slightly raised with all the whispers and mumblings that are out there from sources of relative merit. When Coach Malzahn said at his press conference Monday that I attended, “It’s just one practice” that was what I found most compelling.
The way I read Malzahn’s body language it seemed to carry a sentiment of “yes he practiced — but pump the breaks”. Also in the past, when talking of players who would be returning from injury the upcoming game after a Monday presser, Gus was almost elated to announce a guy’s positive status. Whereas Dillon Gabriel’s Instagram has led us astray before. Does anyone remember the hype surrounding McKenize Milton starting before his transfer to FSU?
Bryson: I would not rush him back for a game like this. Honestly, if he had been healthy all season going into this game, I would have speculated we would get a look at Mikey Keene here. As it stands, just let Mikey Keene continue to get some live-game reps. The more he can get, the better.
4. If DG isn’t playing, what do you need to see from this offense on Saturday, heading into the War on I-4?
Jeff: I need to see better offensive line play. They had a rough day at SMU in both the run and the pass. So UConn’s down-pillow-soft defensive front might just be the home cookin’ they need. I’d like to see UCF run for at least 200 yards and throw for at least 200 yards in this game, ideally.
Andrew: Consistency in the run game. If Bowser isn’t available, or even if he is, the team needs to utilize Mark-Antony Richards. He’s proven he can play the every-down back with a combination of size and speed. Sure, he has room for improvement, but his presence on the field will force the defense to respect the run and not drop as many defenders back.
Kyle: While some may including coach Malzahn himself (and me) preach the run and importance of line play, I think that’s sort of a known quantity as much as it can be. I want to see if this receiver corps can find separation again in their routes and allow peak Mikey Keene to show flashes with big passes.
Bryson: One constant that’s occurred whenever Isaiah Bowser is out is UCF cannot establish the running game. If they can do it against UConn than I’ll feel a bit more confident in them going into the War on I-4 than I am today.
5. Score predictions!
Jeff: UCF wins. BIG. Then it’s on to South Florida.
Andrew: UCF wins easily 42-10.
Kyle: Knights charge on 38-14 leaving opportunities on the field on offense while giving up a late garbage time TD.
Bryson: 45-17. Have to leave room for potential garbage time points by the Huskies.