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Preview: UCF Looks to Redeem Itself vs. #7 Cincinnati

It’s the Knights’ biggest game of the year

Temple v Central Florida Photo by Alex Menendez/Getty Images

The UCF Knights face their biggest test of the year against the undefeated and #7-ranked Cincinnati Bearcats. It’s Senior Day and the Knights’ home finale for the 2020 season.

ESPN will carry the game live from the Bounce House at 3:30 p.m..


Kickoff

When: 3:30 p.m. ET

Where: The Bounce House

Line: Cincinnati -4.5, Over/under 65.5 (OddsShark). This is the first time since 2016 that UCF is a home dog.

Gametime Weather: Partly cloudy, mid-70s. A bit breezy and muggy.

Threads: Big Game Gold is back, this time with a white sword stripe on the helmet.

Gameday Guide

TV

Network: ESPN

Crew: Mark Jones (play-by-play) and Dusty Dvoracek (analyst)

Series

All-time: UCF leads 3-2. The Knights are 2-0 against the Bearcats at home.

Last Meeting: Last year. It was frustrating:

Cincinnati Coming In

This is the Bearcats’ year. They’re 7-0 and in prime position for at least the G5 bid to the New Year’s Six, and with a possible outside shot at a College Football Playoff Bid. After a bit of a shaky start, they have won their last four by at least 28 points. However, they have also played six of their seven games at home, and this is their first of three straight on the road to end the regular season.

Head Coach: Luke Fickell. Urban Meyer’s former defensive coordinator at Ohio State has turned the Bearcats’ program around dramatically after Tommy Tuberville left it in ruins. After a 4-8 campaign in 2017, Cincy has won 11 games, including two bowl games, and finished in the top 25 in each of the past two years.

What to Watch For

When UCF Has the Ball

Temple v Central Florida Photo by Alex Menendez/Getty Images

The American’s #1 offense faces The American’s #1 defense. The game will be won or lost on this matchup. Cincy stifled UCF’s passing game last year by preventing the deep ball and forcing Dillon Gabriel into short throws, which allowed the Bearcats to confuse him with their coverages.

This year, Gabriel has matured, but so have the Bearcats, so this will be another intense chess match between Josh Heupel and Luke Fickell.

UCF Offense vs. BYU Defense

UCF Offense FBS Rank Value BYU Defense FBS Rank Value
UCF Offense FBS Rank Value BYU Defense FBS Rank Value
Run/Pass Ratio -- 52/48 Run/Pass Ratio Against -- 53/47
Plays/Game 1 88 Plays Against/Game 15 65.7
Yards/Play 12 6.7 Yards/Play Allowed 10 4.6
Total Offense 2 585.6 Total Defense 9 308.9
Rushing Offense 25 212.6 Rushing Yards Allowed 18 113.2
Passing Offense 2 373 Passing Yards Allowed 24 195.7
Team Passing Efficiency 12 162.4 Team Passing Efficiency Defense 37 126.4
Scoring Offense 5 44.3 Scoring Defense 3 14.6
3rd Down Conversion Pct 11 49% 3rd Down Conversion Pct Defense 43 38%
4th Down Conversion Pct T-56 58% 4th Down Conversion Pct Defense 23 41%
Red Zone Offense 33 88% Red Zone Defense 9 71%
First Downs Gained T-9 255 First Downs Allowed 72 188
Turnovers Lost 42 10 Turnovers Gained 29 18
Time of Possession 109 27:36:00 Time of Possession Allowed -- 30:22:00
Stats: NCAA, TeamRankings.com

When Cincinnati Has the Ball

East Carolina v Cincinnati
Desmond Ridder
Photo by Joe Robbins/Getty Images

QB Desmond Ridder is the straw that stirs the drink for the Bearcats. Although his numbers aren’t gaudy by any means (1,483 passing yards, 14 TD/6 INT, 469 rushing yards, 9 TDs), but he has efficiently led the conference’s #4 offense and made key plays with his legs when teams try to keep him contained.

This will be the acid test for UCF’s front, which has played well since the suspensions of several veterans prior to the Houston game. The Knights have allowed just 13.5 points per game on defense the last two times out, compared to more than 33 points per game in the five prior to that.

BYU Offense vs. UCF Defense

BYU Offense FBS Rank Value UCF Defense FBS Rank Value
BYU Offense FBS Rank Value UCF Defense FBS Rank Value
Run/Pass Ratio -- 53/47 Run/Pass Ratio Against -- 56/44
Plays/Game 99 67.3 Plays Against/Game 126 82.9
Yards/Play 3 7.5 Yards/Play Allowed 80 5.7
Total Offense 8 510.1 Total Defense 117 473.7
Rushing Offense 45 187.9 Rushing Yards Allowed 91 190.2
Passing Offense 11 322.2 Passing Yards Allowed 117 283.4
Team Passing Efficiency 4 187.1 Team Passing Efficiency Defense 91 144.2
Scoring Offense 6 43 Scoring Defense 78 31.4
3rd Down Conversion Pct 18 48% 3rd Down Conversion Pct Defense 79 42%
4th Down Conversion Pct 43 60% 4th Down Conversion Pct Defense 84 61%
Red Zone Offense 15 91% Red Zone Defense 99 88%
First Downs Gained 4 274 First Downs Allowed T-116 242
Turnovers Lost 17 9 Turnovers Gained 2 22
Time of Possession 68 29:38:00 Time of Possession Allowed -- 32:24:00
Stats: NCAA, TeamRankings.com

More Numbers

Key Stat: Cincinnati has only attempted three field goals this season, making two.

Special Teams and Misc. Stats

UCF FBS Rank Value BYU FBS Rank Value
UCF FBS Rank Value BYU FBS Rank Value
Net Punting Avg. 45 39.5 Net Punting Avg. 17 41.4
Kickoff Returns Avg. 43 21.9 Kickoff Returns Avg. T-64 20.1
Field Goal Pct 79 69% Field Goal Pct 1 100%
Turnover Margin T-4 12 Turnover Margin 18 9
Fewest Penalties Per Game 126 9.4 Fewest Penalties Per Game 8 4.3
Fewest Penalty Yards Per Game 122 77.1 Fewest Penalty Yards Per Game 7 35.2
Stats: NCAA, TeamRankings.com

Predictions

Get them here:

Get Prepped

Listen to our latest podcast as we preview the game with Clayton Trutor from our sister site Down the Drive:

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