UCF vs. Rice- What to Look For

What does UCF have to do to make sure Rice stays winless? Checkout our predictions and keys to victory inside.

Keys to the Game for the Knights:

1.) Establish dominance early on- The Knights are the more talented team but as we've learned already this season, anything can happen in the C-USA. That means that UCF has to get up early and can't let a winless Rice squad build confidence. Remember what happened last year against UTEP?

2.) Keep Nick Fanuzzi on his toes- If Fanuzzi can go then the Knights must be prepared to see a fairly polished quarterback who can hurt you if he gets in a rhythm. If UCF is going to win, Fanuzzi cannot have all day in the pocket.

3.) Don't allow the big play- Rice has the players to move the ball downfield in a hurry so the Knights have to make sure nothing gets behind them. If the Owls can make a big play or two, anything can happen.

4.) Get the ball into the hands' of your playmakers- A.J. Guyton, Quincy McDuffie and Kamar Aiken all need to be involved in the offense through the game. Even if it doesn't mean taking shots down field, the Knights would be wise to use screens, short routes and sweeps to get these players the ball.

5.) Convert in the red zone- In case you haven't figured it out yet, this is an essential part of the game. The Knights are working on it but their inability to punch the ball past the pylons is preventing them from being anything more than an average team.

What to Look for:

1.) A desperate UCF team- If UCF comes out flat than you have to question the team's heart. The Knights basically need to win out to have a chance at getting to the conference championship game and they cannot take Rice lightly. Expect a UCF team that will claw and fight for anything and everything.

2.) A sellout crowd- Just kidding, the Owls are notorious for not selling out home games, as they haven't done so since the 1960s. If you think UCF's attendance was down a little before the Miami game then you should get a look at Rice Stadium, which holds 47,000 people but averages less than half of that.

3.) Plenty of blitzing from Rice- The Owls run a 4-2-5 defense and that means the Knights will see a lot of pressure from safeties off the edges. How they handle the blitzes will be a big aspect of this game.

4.) More true freshmen- Josh Robinson and Kemal Ishmael are both slated to start for the Knights on defense again this week and Rice has had 11 total starts from true freshmen this season such as Alex Lowry and Phillip Gaines.

5.) Toren Dixon extends his streak- The receiver has 33 consecutive games with a reception and he should continue that trend against an inconsistent UCF secondary.

Predictions:

1.) UCF covers the spread- It's at 10 and if the Knights play two halves of motivated football they will win easily.

2.) Brynn Harvey surpasses the century mark for the third time this season- Teams have been able to run all over Rice so it stands to reason that UCF should be able to. Harvey had just 12 carries in the team's loss to Miami so he'll be fresh and ready to go.

3.) The Knights log at least two sacks- Rice loves to throw the ball and that should mean plenty of opportunities for UCF's ends to get some shots at whoever starts at quarterback for the Owls.

4.) A dynamic play in the return game for UCF- The Knights rank 10th and 37th in kickoff and punt return yards, respectively, in the nation. We'd be surprised if UCF can't get at least one nice return during the game.

5.) Rice doesn't sniff 100 yards rushing- The Owls average 85 rushing yards a game and UCF's front four, which allows 90 yards on the ground per game, should prevent Rice from getting anywhere near the century mark.


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