The Knights are always looking for opportunities to crash the national spotlight and garner some attention for their efforts. Well, in Week 2 of the season, Blake Bortles and the UCF Knights (1-0) find themselves on just about the biggest stage you could ask for with their match up against the #14 Ohio State Buckeyes (1-0).
Not only will the Knights play the Buckeyes in Columbus, Ohio at ‘The Horseshoe’, a stadium that is regularly filled to its 102,000 capacity mark, but also they will do it on ESPN2 for the whole nation to see. The game is scheduled for a Noon kickoff on Saturday, September 8th.
Both teams are coming off of landslide victories in Week 1. UCF dismantled Akron to the tune of 56-14 while Ohio State handed a similar, 56-10, whooping to Miami (Ohio).
The Knights are the underdogs going into this game, but that’s where they do the most damage. History shows that UCF favors being the underdog, and waivers when given the benefit of the doubt. An extremely talented 2010 Liberty Bowl champion team went into the game a unanimous underdog, despite showing their guns all season long, and delivered the victory.
This game is similar to that scenario in that while analysts are continually referring to the Knights as ‘pesky’ or ‘troublesome’, they all believe that short of a lapse in football memory, the Knights don’t stand a chance against the Buckeyes. That should be music to UCF fans ears, we like being underrated.
The Keys to a Knights Victory:
If the Knights are going to beat the Buckeyes in their own home, a few things are going to need to happen.
The Knights are going to have to play balanced football. Luckily for UCF, this is their style of play already. The Knights strong run game will need to be alive early to open up the passing game. If they can keep the defense honest with an unpredictable play action, it will pay dividends in the fourth quarter when yardage is at a premium.
Blake Bortles is going to have to develop selective hearing. The Horseshoe is undoubtedly one of the hardest venues to play at, especially for a young quarterback. While Bortles has done nothing but impress his critics, and give fans no reason to doubt his ability, it cannot be overstated what a daunting challenge it will be to conduct an offense and remain calm while 102,000 screaming, raving fans want to see you on your back. This could be the game that Bortles becomes more than just a quarterback for UCF.
Storm Johnson, welcome to UCF. Two touchdowns in Week 1 is a wonderful thing, but can he take over the role as starting running back while Latavius Murray sits out this game with a shoulder injury? If the Knights are going to win, he is going to have to prove that he is every bit as talented as the hype surrounding him suggests. Brynn Harvey will have to step up and have a big game as well; the Knights don’t operate on a single back system. Rotating running backs leads to fresh legs, fresh legs lead to first downs late. Late first downs could seal the win, or keep the Knights in striking distance if the game turns into a shootout.
An old adage is that Defense wins championships. Defense also wins big games. The Knights rushing defense is going to have to be every bit as stingy as they have been in the past. They are going to have to put pressure on the quarterback consistently to help out their young DB’s. If the Knights have a weakness, it’s uncertainty in the secondary, but this can be written off by an imposing quarterback rush from the Knights experienced D line.
If the Knights can execute their game plan, remain focused and calm in a raucous environment and deliver a big defensive performance, they have a great shot to come out on top.
Final call, Knights win 28-24.