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UCF at SMU: Preview, How to Watch, TV, Predictions, and Keys to the Game

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The Knights and Mustangs face off in Dallas

Central Florida v SMU
The last time UCF beat SMU in Dallas was 2017
Photo by Cooper Neill/Getty Images

The UCF Knights (6-3, 4-2 AAC) are on the road for the final time this season wth a tough test ahead of them: the SMU Mustangs (7-2, 3-2 AAC), who are coming off a two-game losing streak after a 7-0 start.

Let’s get ready:


Game Day Guide

When: Noon ET

Where: Gerald Ford Stadium, Dallas, Texas

Weather: Courtesy of Black & Gold Banneret’s unofficial meteorologist and UCF alum Eric Burris:

Line: UCF +7 (52% of the money on UCF), Over/under 61.5 (99% on over), per OddsShark


How to Watch

TV: ESPNU

Stream: ESPN+

Crew: John Schiffren and friend of the pod and retired OPD detective Rene Ingoglia


Series

  • UCF leads 8-1
  • The Knights have won five in a row.
  • SMU’s only win was in 2011
  • Last meeting: 2018 - UCF 48, SMU 20

Keys to the Game

When UCF Has the Ball

UCF Offense vs. South Florida Defense

Category UCF Offense FBS Rank S. Fla. Defense FBS Rank
Category UCF Offense FBS Rank S. Fla. Defense FBS Rank
Rush Yards 190.1 41st 209.9 115th
Pass Yards 220.0 76th 279.4 122nd
Total Yards 410.1 63rd 489.3 125th
Points 33.5 28th 36.3 120th
Stats: stats.ncaa.org

This could be Mikey Keene’s chance to shine. The true freshman has thrown for 458 yards, 7 TDs and just one INT the past two games combined after throwing for just 631 with 5 TDs and 5 INTs in the first five of his career. SMU meanwhile is particularly vulnerable against the pass, giving up 287.7 yards per game, and more than 400 in the last two. This might be Gus Malzahn’s chance to let Mikey cook.

But it’s only going to work if UCF gets some token production out of the running game. SMU is 34th against the run, and in their last two, even though Houston and Memphis ran for an average of 54 yards per game and just 1.4 yards per carry, they at least tried, running the ball 37 and 38 times respectively. So even if Isaiah Bowser and Johnny Richardson can’t get going, the mere threat of the run can give Keene the space he needs to make plays.

Mikey Keene
Photo: Derek Warden

UCF’s Key Players to Watch

  • #16 QB Mikey Keene — 104/160 (65%), 1,089 yards, 12 TD/6 INT
  • #5 RB Isaiah Bowser — 123 carries, 549 yards, 4.5 ypc, 7 TDs
  • #3 WR Brandon Johnson — 29 catches, 397 yards, 9 TDs

SMU’s Key Players to Watch

  • #3 LB Delano Robinson — 54 tackles, 3 TFLs, one INT, one sack
  • #97 LB Turner Coxe — 24 tackles, 5 TFLs, 5 sacks
  • #55 LB Gary Wiley — 33 tackles, 8 TFLs, 4 sacks

When SMU Has the Ball

South Florida Offense vs. UCF Defense

Category S. Fla. Offense FBS Rank UCF Defense FBS Rank
Category S. Fla. Offense FBS Rank UCF Defense FBS Rank
Rush Yards 165.0 65th 161.4 84th
Pass Yards 189.7 106th 212.5 42nd
Total Yards 354.7 101st 373.9 59th
Points 24.1 99th 26.3 67th
Source: stats.ncaa.org

It’s the Tanner Mordecai show for the Mustangs. The 6-3 junior from Waco is among the nation’s best passers thanks to Sonny Dykes’ high-powered offensive scheme and the emergence of WR Danny Gray, who is averaging a touchdown a game.

However, in the Mustangs’ last two games, both losses, the running game has been the problem. They averaged 178 rushing yards per game and during their 7-0 start, but in their last two losses, they’ve averaged only 55 per game.

If SMU can run, this game won’t be competitive. But if UCF can stop the run and make Mordecai have to throw to win, the Knights have a chance.

SMU’s Key Players to Watch

  • #8 QB Tanner Mordecai — 230/328 (70%), 2,887 yards, 34 TD (2nd in FBS), 9 INT
  • #4 RB Tre Siggers — 126 rush, 570 yards, 5 TDs
  • #5 WR Danny Gray — 47 catches, 780 yards, 9 TDs (6th in FBS)

UCF’s Key Players to Watch

  • #30 LB Bryson Armstrong — 77 tackles, 4 tackles for loss, one sack, 4 QB hurries
  • #1 DE Big Kat Bryant — 33 tackles, 9 TFLs, 4.5 sacks, 7 QB hurries
  • #37 DB Quadric Bullard — 61 tackles, 4 TFLs, 2 sacks, 4 passes defended, 3 fumble recoveries

Podcast

Listen to our latest podcast as we preview the game:

Predictions

Get our takes on today’s game in this week’s Knights Roundtable:

Follow Along!

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