Buffalo Bulls vs. UCF Knights
Location: Bright House Networks Stadium (Orlando, Fla.)
Time: 7:30 p.m.
Record: UCF 1-1, Buffalo 1-1
UCF- It was a case of what could have been for the Knights last week. After Rob Calabrese was awful in the first quarter of UCF's game versus Southern Miss (two fumbles, one of which was returned for a score), he was yanked for the more poised and efficient Brett Hodges. Down 14-0, Hodges helped the Knights come back against Southern Miss but the team fell short. What if Hodges started the game? Could UCF had pulled off the upset? There's no way of knowing but there won't be many "what ifs" this weekend, as Hodges is now the starter.
Buffalo- The Bulls are coming off an embarrassing 54-27 loss to Pittsburgh. Can the defending MAC champions bounce back and beat their second C-USA opponent this season? The Bulls beat UTEP opening weekend and their defense was significantly better than. They have some weapons on offense but Turner Gill knows that his team cannot allow 35 points a game and plan on having a successful season.
UCF Offense vs. Buffalo Defense
UCF- With Hodges at the helm, the Knights have an efficient passing attack, something that they lacked last season. Rocky Ross and Kamar Aiken have both played well at receiver but the team is looking for a third receiver to step up. The running game has been extremely disappointing thus far, as the offensive line hasn't done much and when the unit has opened up holes, Brynn Harvey hasn't taken advantage of them. If UCF is going to contend for a conference title, Harvey will have to get going.
Buffalo- Saying that Buffalo needs to step up and stop the run is an understatement. The Bulls gave up 209 yards rushing last week against Pittsburgh and also allowed UTEP's Donald Buckram to average 7.7 yards per carry. With several marquee players in the secondary (safeties Davonte Shannon and Mike Newton, and corner Domonic Cook) the Bulls are solid against the pass, but a young line backing corps and a mediocre defensive line can be exploited.
Key Matchup- UCF's offensive line vs. Buffalo's defensive line- It will be a battle of the big uglies that will determine this game, at least for UCF. The Knights haven't been able to get their running game going so far and a lot of that is because their line hasn't performed well as a cohesive group yet, and Buffalo's line has struggled as well. This is a chance for either front to get going.
UCF Defense vs. Buffalo Offense
UCF- An inability to get a consistent pass rush with their front four has hindered UCF's defense so far this season. The staff has discussed this disappointment and it will be interesting to see how the ends respond. Bruce Miller and Jarvis Geathers both were expected to have big seasons and while they haven't been bad early on, they haven't been consistent. The linebackers have been decent early on and the secondary is still learning. UCF's defensive backs have given up big passing plays during untimely situations and you might see more play from freshmen like Josh Robinson, Kemal Ishmael and A.J. Bouye.
Buffalo- The Bulls are scrambling to replace James Starks, a Kevin Smith-like back who was lost for the season. The team has leaned on junior Brandon Thermilus, a bruising back who weighs 225 lbs., but he hasn't been overly efficient, as he's averaged just under 4 yards a carry. It all starts for the Bulls with Zach Maynard, who has been great in his first season as a starting quarterback. The dual-threat player has thrown for 559 yards and five touchdowns.
Key Matchup- UCF's defensive ends vs. Maynard- For the third week in a row now, UCF will face a dual-threat quarterback known for efficiency. Maynard can sling it with the best of them and his ability to scramble will keep UCF's defense on edge. The Knights must collapse the pocket early and often to keep Maynard out of rhythm.
UCF Game Preview- Buffalo Bulls
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