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UCF’s Week 6 Checklist vs. Cincinnati

The Knights will be tested tonight in their first conference road game of the season

UCLA v Cincinnati
The UCF Knights will need to keep an eye on Cincinnati mobile QB Desmond RIdder when he breaks the pocket tonight.
Photo by Michael Hickey/Getty Images

1. How will the UCF Knights begin this game?

The last time we saw UCF in a road atmosphere, they started slowly on both sides of the ball; the offense looked lethargic while the defense looked confused in Pittsburgh. The Knights had no such issues last week back in their house versus UConn, and as much as it sounds obvious, getting off to a good start will tell us a lot about how this clash will unfold. If the Knights get outplayed and outfoxed in the first quarter, we will probably be in for a tight, tough battle.

2. Can the Knights’ defense hang tough versus Cincy’s tri-headed ground game?

When these teams last met, Cincinnati Bearcats running backs Michael Warren II and Tavion Thomas, and quarterback Desmond Ridder ran 50 times for a combined 230 yards. It didn’t really matter as the Bearcats had no answer for McKenzie Milton, but that doesn’t mean their offensive game plan will change tonight. Ridder is coming off a four-touchdown outing versus Marshall in which he completed 81.8 percent of his throws, but the Bearcats would prefer to not have him throw more than 30 times per game

Cincy wants to grind this game out with a bevy of running plays. The Knights know this, but it’s another thing to stop it. Case in point: The Knights knew that Pittsburgh was going to come at them over and over on the ground, and the Panthers still churned out more than 200 yards on 37 carries.

3. Who wins the turnover battle?

The Bearcats have given the ball away six times in four games this year and at least once in each. The Knights have committed four turnovers, half of which occurred at Pittsburgh — a pair of Dillon Gabriel interceptions.

In what is expected to be a close game (the current line is UCF -3.5, per Vegas Insider), taking advantage of one mistake could very well decide the outcome.

4. Will we see Brandon Wimbush line up at wide receiver?

Josh Heupel finally admitted this week what I and others have known for a few weeks: Wimbush is being used at wideout. I am not naive enough to believe that Wimbush will have a large role at WR; he will be used sparingly. All we have seen thus far is WImbush catching balls during pregame warmups, but both Heupel and WR coach Darrell Wyatt said this week that the Notre Dame transfer can and will help out as a pass-catcher. Here’s hoping, maybe out of nothing more than curiosity, we see the beginning of that this evening.