The Red Wolves have a received a break from lousy weather in Arkansas and a reward for digging out of an early season hole by traveling to Orlando. The Red Wolves face a UCF squad that is building a season of redemption after going winless last season and they hope to avoid a losing record by playing in the Cure Bowl just across the city from their campus.
The computer models give AState roughly a one in three chance of winning Saturday. Winning any prize ($4 to jackpot) in Powerball are bit better than one in 25. The Red Wolves don’t need a miracle or any grand run of luck to beat UCF.
Patience, offense. UCF looks a lot like AState in the defensive stats but seem to play a bit more aggressively. The Red Wolves just have to take what is there. If UCF is stacking the box, then check out of the run. If they are coming hard play dink and dunk short passing. If the matchup is there to be a fling a ding team going deep then have to do it and execute. This a huge game for Hansen and Voytik at QB to not only execute what the coaches recognize from film but to be able to read what is happening and adjust. A touchdown is six points whether it is from a three play or 12 play drive. AState has been built for explosive on offense but if the explosive opportunities aren’t there, then chugging along 3-4 yards at a time works as well.
Patience, defense. I expect to see AState throwing some run blitzes in early to try to shake confidence in the UCF ground game. The biggest concern the UCF offense poses is they look to have a size and speed advantage at receiver, I’d be mildly surprised if they don’t go deep on the first series. So I expect to see UCF completing a lot of stuff underneath as AState tries to pressure upfront while the corners and safeties keep the receivers in front of them. It is the sort of game that can be frustrating as a fan but forcing UCF to run more plays means more opportunities for UCF to end up behind the sticks whether from penalties to tackles for loss. If this the AState defensive plan, the offense has to help them by avoiding three and out situations.
Turnovers. UCF has not won a game this year when they have a negative turnover margin. AState’s defense has been very good at forcing turnovers the past three years and been among the best at scoring when they gain possession. If AState is effective up front opportunities to pick up turnovers will be there.
Negate the “home” crowd. UCF’s win loss chart this year looks like an EKG. They’ve not won more than two in a row and not lost more than two in a row (they carry a two game losing streak in). They went 3-3 at home and 3-3 on the road. While AState may not be a household name in Orlando, playing a bowl across town will make this a high energy event for UCF fans. Early success can get them sitting on their hands and make the atmosphere more bowl and less road.