The Line: Knights -17

Kickoff: Saturday 8:00 P.M, Nippert Stadium

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TV Broadcast: ESPNU

Radio: FM 96.9/ AM 740

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ORLANDO, Fla. — UCF (3-0) takes on the Cincinnati Bearcats (2-3) this weekend.  UCF is ranked 25th in the AP poll, coming off a huge win versus Memphis last Saturday.  Coach Frost has been downplaying all the hype, as one might expect.

“I asked the players what their record was this morning and they knew the answer. It’s 0-0. I asked them where we were ranked, and they said, ‘We’re not,” Frost said. “We’re pretending these first three games never happened because we’ve got an eight-game season in front of us.”

This weekend is a perfect setup for a letdown.  Cincinnati is down right now, and UCF is flying high.  Cincinnati is a conference foe, and at home, so anything can happen. Throw out the record books in a conference matchup.

Cincinnati’s program hasn’t been headed in the right direction since leaving the Big East.  Their record has declined year by year.  Last year they finished 4-8.  This doesn’t mean UCF should take them lightly.  Cincinnati hired coach Luke Fickell last offseason and is attempting to shift their culture.  Last year Coach Fickell was the defensive coordinator for Ohio State, where he learned a couple things about a winning culture.

“Toughness is a skill, it’s developed. Our culture is all about toughness – You win on toughness,” Fickell stated.

Although Cincinnati hasn’t done a ton of winning this year, they have done some good things.  Junior Quarterback Hayden Moore has a 2:1 touchdown to Interception ratio, with a 108.8 passing efficiency rating.  Their run game has also been effective.  They have a balanced running attack, with three backs reaching the 100-yard mark.

Erik Chinander, UCF’s defensive coordinator, seems concerned with the lack of tape on Cincinnati’s offense.

“They’ve got a lot of stuff, stuff that we haven’t prepared for because their staff is new. It’s like playing a whole new team, which is not always the best,” Coach Chinander said.

The defense is where we expected to see improvements on this Bearcat team.  They have a linebacking tandem that is supposed to be the most talented in the conference.  Perry Young and Jaylyin Minor are two super talented guys.

Perry Young is a sophomore who is really coming into his own this year.  He originally signed on with Cincinnati as a safety, but is playing great in the middle.  Last week versus Marshall he had 13 tackles, 1 for loss, and a recovered fumble.  Playing next to senior linebacker Jaylyin Minor has really helped his development.  It will be interesting to see if UCF can continue to build on their running success in recent weeks facing this talented crew.

UCF will no longer catch anyone by surprise.  Being ranked in the AP poll puts a target on your chest, and the team will need be at their best week in and week out.  Coach Frost is confident this team will not be affected by any of this.

“The leadership I’ve seen from Pat Jasinski, Shaquem Griffin, Wyatt Miller and a bunch of other guys, they’re not going to let this group lose focus. Our formula has been working to this point, making us a better football team. I think they understand if we stick to that, that gives us our best chance,” Frost said Monday afternoon.

This UCF has grabbed the attention of this city, and the country.  Frost continues to preach short term goals, and Cincinnati is next on their agenda.