GAME PREVIEW: UCF at Memphis

UCF at Memphis
When: Saturday, Oct. 17th, 3:30 PM EDT
Where: Liberty Bowl Stadium, Memphis, Tenn.
TV/Streaming: ABC/WatchESPN (subscription req’d)

This game was one of my Group of Five games of the year in the preseason this year. It marks the last three champions of the American Athletic Association with Memphis winning last year and UCF the two prior seasons.

But things have turned a little this year as both teams are coming off tough in-conference losses. Memphis fell in the last minute at SMU, while UCF fell to Tulsa at home also in the last minutes of the game.

What might have been a preview of another AAC Championship game, this game now is a must win to stay in the AAC race this year for each team.

This game really has seen some memorable games in the past but the series has been rather one-sided. UCF has won 13 games in a row over the Tigers and Memphis only has one win overall and that came way back in in 1990. Two of the past three meetings have been in the AAC Championship Game of course with UCF winning both.

The two teams did not meet last year so the last game these two teams played against each other was the 2018 AAC title game. Here is a recap of this game below that took two overtimes to decide:

Below is a look at how the two teams match-up statistically so far this year:

UCF Knights (2-1 overall, 1-1 AAC)

QB Dillon Gabriel recorded his seventh career 300-yard passing game against Tulsa after throwing for 330 yards and a touchdown in the loss. But Tulsa did possibly show a blueprint on how to stop him. When pressured, he did get rattled and he threw an interception and his team also lost two fumbles.

WRs Jaylon Robinson and Marlon Williams are Gabriel’s favorite targets so far. Robinson started the season with three 100-yard games , while Williams leads the team overall in receiving yardage.

The Knights have used a three headed running game with Otis Anderson, Bentavious Thompson, and Greg McCrae. The trio has combined for 446 total yards through three games.

The defense for the Knights has been very opportunistic on the turnover side.

The Knights recovered just eight fumbles all season long last year and now have eight fumble recoveries through three games of 2020. UCF also has four interceptions on the season and rank second in all of FBS in turnover margin.

Key Player: QB Dillon Gabriel

Gabriel will be a key in what seems to be a high scoring game for the Knights. He will need to match the efforts of his opposing quarterback on Memphis in Brady White in what could be a similar scoring game to the last time these two met in 2018.

Memphis Tigers (1-1 overall, 0-1 AAC)

QB Brady White he has 576 yards and seven touchdown passes through two games. He has picked up from last year when he threw for over 4,000 yards in the Tigers’ AAC championship season.

His top receivers are Sean Dykes and Damonte Coxie as both are averaging eight receptions per game through two games. Dykes is leading the team with 222 yards, while Coxie has 175 with the two combined for four touchdowns.

The running game has had two players emerge so far this year. Rodrigues Clark and Kylan Watkins are forming a nice combination. Clark ranks second in the AAC with 101.5 rushing yards per game, while Watkins posted his first career 100-yard game in the Tigers last game at SMU.

The offense has produced similarly to what it did in 2019 so far but the defense was a big reason why the Tigers lost its last game. While the Tigers have stopped the run fairly well, it has allowed a lot of passing against its opposition. The secondary for the Tigers will be well tested against the potent Knights offense in this game.

Key Player: QB Brady White

As mentioned with UCF’s Gabriel, this game will undoubtedly be high scoring so White will need to match the punches from UCF. This game will be high scoring and turnovers will likely be a key factor in the winner so White will need to take care of the ball and also mix in the running game to keep the team from being one dimensional.

Fearless Prediction:

As mentioned earlier, this game will be a shootout. Memphis is allowing 10,500 fans into the Liberty Bowl for this game so there could be some home field advantage for the Tigers. However, I think the turnover edge will be with UCF as it has been so far this season and think that will help the Knights to win this road game and give Memphis its first home loss in its last 10 games. UCF 52 Memphis 45

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