UCF vs. Miami- What to Look For

The Knights will play host to the ninth ranked Miami Hurricanes on Saturday. It will be one of the biggest games in UCF history and if the Knights can pull off the upset, the game will down in UCF lore forever. What does UCF have to do to get the victory?

Keys to the Game for the Knights:

1.) Be balanced- Miami's defense is fast and physical so any resemblance of an offense will be fine, especially compared to last year's meeting between the two teams when UCF accumulated just 78 yards of total offense. The Hurricanes won't give up much physically so UCF will have to out-scheme Miami. They'll do that by remaining balanced and being efficient enough through the air and on the ground to keep Miami off balance.

2.) Don't give up YAC- Miami has made a living this season off of the long ball but more importantly, the Canes have really done a nice job of finding receivers over the middle and turning quick passes into big plays. The Knights cannot miss tackles and must keep Miami from turning dump passes into big gains.

3.) Win third down- Miami has enough talent to overcome second and long on offense or second and short on defense so the Knights will have to convert on third down throughout the game. The Knights have had a knack for giving up big third down plays this year and that trend will have to stop on defense. On offense the team must execute and sustain drives.

4.) Score in the red zone- It's not rocket science, if you score touchdowns you usually win. The Knights won't have an easy time driving on Miami so when they find themselves inside the 20, they have to be able to punch the ball in. Nick Cattoi will be a big part of this game but you don't want him to have more field goal attempts than extra point tries.

5.) Play a full game- In five contests, the Knights have yet to put together a complete game. The team has won the second half this season but the Knights cannot afford to do that against Miami. In order for UCF to win, the Knights must be efficient and intense through the entire game.

What to Look For:

1.) Brett Hodges to have a big day- Whether or not Hodges will lead UCF to victory is up for debate but he should get plenty of opportunities to throw the ball. Miami will be reluctant to give up the run so Hodges will likely be turned loose some. He'll likely get a substantial amount of attempts and might get a nice amount of attempts but the bottom line will be touchdowns to turnovers.

2.) Less Brynn- Again, Miami will look to shut down the run so the odds are Brynn Harvey will not see another 200 yard performance. Combine that with the fact that George O'Leary has been adamant in giving Harvey less carries and you'll be heart pressed to see Harvey's total carries climb past 30.

3.) Homegrown talent- The Knights have been able to pick some talent out of South Florida over the years but Miami hasn't done such a bad job in Orlando. Look for Central Florida high school stars Joe Joseph (Oak Ridge H.S.) and Ray Ray Armstrong (Seminole H.S.) to get a lot of playing time.

4.) A crazy crowd-There will be a huge crowd on hand for the Knights. Miami fans will make the three-hour trip to Orlando to see their team play and UCF fans will be out in full force as well. Expect a great atmosphere this Saturday.

5.) Butting offensive minds- Both teams have picked things up offensively this season and you can attribute a lot of that to their respective offensive coordinators. Both UCF's Charlie Taaffe and Miami's Mark Whipple are first-year coordinators for their programs but each has plenty of experience. Look for the two to try to get creative and whoever orchestrates a more efficient game will likely come out on top.

Predictions:

1.) UCF will beat the spread- It's a 14.5 point spread favoring Miami. The Knights kept in within six last season with both teams making big plays on defense and on special teams. With a home field advantage, look for the Knights to keep it tight through most of the game.

2.) Look for Torrell Troup to have a coming out party- Scouts and media members know that UCF has something special in defensive tackle Torrell Troup but C-USA coaches have snubbed him from the first team ballot two years in a row now. Troup will have his chance to show a lot of people what he's capable of against the ninth-ranked team in the nation.

3.) A true frosh will make a big play- Jonathan Davis, Kemal Ishmael, Quincy McDuffie and Josh Robinson should all see decent action against Miami on Saturday. The Canes might also go with Armstrong in the starting lineup. With so many youngsters on the field, one is bound to make a play that could potentially change the game.

4.) Miami will have success through the air- The Knights will have a hard enough time stopping Miami's running back tandem but if UCF is forced to run blitz, the Canes to will take shots down field. An inexperienced secondary has given up plenty of big plays this season, so why will it stop against a potentially prolific offense?

5.) Miami attempts and probably converts a trick play- Teams have been able to burn UCF on numerous trick plays this season. If Miami doesn't pound away at UCF in the first half and establish a consistent running game, look for the Canes to try a little trickery or creativity on offense to catch the Knights sleeping.

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