Keys to the Game for the Knights
1.) Stop Darius Marshall- I know, I really hit you over the head with this one, but it's the truth. For UCF to win, the team must be able to slow down the nation's second-leading rusher. He's broken off big runs in nearly every game he's played in this season and he can be a game changer if you give him space to work with.
2.) Be fundamental on defense- This is a little more specific way to stop Marshall. UCF's front seven needs to be extremely disciplined and cannot overrun plays. Just as importantly, they can't have a tackling performance like they did against ECU.
3.) Get Brynn going early and stick with him- It's been an easy formula for UCF this season. With the exception the game at ECU when the team might have gone away from Harvey too early, Harvey has averaged better than three yards per carry in the team's victories and below three in their defeat's. The message is simple; get Harvey on a roll to start and then don't abandon the run if/when you establish it.
4.) Win the turnover battle- Marshall has been opportunistic in the turnover department this year but the Thundering Herd has also had a nice amount of giveaways. The Knights can capture momentum and never relinquish it if they force turnovers like they did against Rice.
5.)Protect Hodges- If Brett Hodges has time to throw the ball against an athletic defensive front then he can pick apart a mediocre secondary. The Thundering Herd will come at Hodges with different looks so the line needs to be able to pick up different blitzes and stunts.
What to Look for:
1.) A big crowd- It should be a relatively full stadium against Marshall. Even though the game is late on a Sunday night, it's the only football game in town (and in the nation) and it's against a rival. If UCF fans can't show up to a must-win conference game against a strong opponent after last week's dazzling performance then they need to ask themselves if they're really fans.
2.) Intensity on both sides- A lot is on the line for both teams and a loss would likely end a shot at winning the division, as both teams technically trail ECU. Both squads are physical and play each other well, so this should be a pretty lively matchup.
3.) Plenty of sacks- Don't snicker, both teams consistently get to their opponent's quarterback so that likely won't change here. UCF's front four is dominant and Marshall has some legit players up front too, so expect and abundance on plays made behind the line of scrimmage.
4.) Another A.J. Guyton start- Can you really keep him off the field? Guyton has emerged as the team's best playmaker and he's steadily taking away snaps from other receivers.
5.) A pick or two- UCF has just five interceptions on the year but Marshall throws about one a game, so the Knights might be able to raise their total if they stop Darius Marshall and force Brian Anderson to throw.
1.) UCF wins the rushing battle- Darius Marshall might have a big day but UCF's line is getting better and Brynn Harvey is as well. With some players finally stepping up behind him, the Knights have the ability to consistently run of Marshall through the game.
2.) Marshall gets at least one big play- That being said, Darius and crew won't die easily and the Thundering Herd should have at least one big play in them.
3.) The kicking game improves- Nick Cattoi or Jamie Boyle will be called on to be consistent and nearly perfect. They should be up to the task at home.
4.) UCF doesn't cover the spread- Originally we thought that UCF would have a hard time covering the 3.5 point spread but the spread recently jumped to 7.5. What does Vegas know that we don't? Who knows, but all of a sudden we're not so sure that UCF can easily cover by more than a touchdown, unless someone big for Marshall doesn't participate in Sunday's game.
5.) UCF wins- That being said, we think UCF is probably at least three points better than Marshall.
UCF- Marshall- What To Look For
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