After a heartbreaking loss to Kansas State last weekend, in which the Knights crumbled in the final minutes of the game, UCF (2-2) will be looking to get back on track when they host UAB in there conference opener in front of a national audience.
Last week, the Knights traveled to Kansas to face the undefeated Wildcats (4-0) in a game that would have been a huge victory for the Central Florida program if they would have pulled off the upset. UCF dominated the game on both sides of the ball, shutting down the Wildcats run game and successfully driving the ball down the field through the ground, but were ultimately doomed by missed opportunities and silly mistakes.
The Knights nationally ranked defense held the Big 12 Wildcats to 272 total yards and just 83 yards on the ground. Daniel Thomas, who came into the game averaging 184 rushing yards per contest, was limited to just 76 yards by the pesky UCF run defense.
In addition, the Knights put up 344 yards of total offense and penetrated the Kansas State territory with 252 rushing yards, including another solid game from Ronnie Weaver. Weaver, filling in for the injured Brynn Harvey, ran for 130 yards and a touchdown.
But, other than Weaver’s touchdown, the UCF offense was anemic when it came to scoring in the red zone. In addition to failing to score while deep in the Wildcat territory, UCF kicker Nick Cattoi missed two key field goals that could have potentially won them the game.
Kansas State quarterback Carson Coffman 7-yard touchdown run with 24 seconds left lifted his team to a come-from-behind 17-13 victory and devastated the Knights.
However, the Knights will be looking to move forward as they begin their conference slate against the Blazers in an ESPN televised game at Bright House Networks Stadium in the team’s first ever Wednesday night game.
UCF will need to contain a strong UAB offense, who is third in Conference-USA in total yards, averaging 441 yards per game. The Blazers (1-3) are coming off a near-upset over Tennessee, but came up just short in 32-29 defeat to the Volunteers.
For UCF to win their conference opener, they will need to convert on red zone opportunities and finish drives. In addition, the defense will need to continue to be lockdown as it has been all season and capitalize on UAB quarterback Bryan Ellis mistakes, who has had three picks in the last two games.
Also, Weaver will need to keep up his running effort and freshman quarterback Jeffrey Godfrey will need to get his passing game going as the Knights cannot rely only on their ground attack. Godfrey has thrown for just 222 yards in the last two games, so he will need to improve on that.
The odds appear to be in UCF’s favor as they have won their last six league outings in a row and are 6-1 all time against UAB, so look for the Knights to come out of the gates motivated and enthusiastic.