UCF Knights vs. Texas Longhorns
Location: Austin, Texas (Darrell K Royal-Texas Memorial Stadium)
Time: 12:00 p.m. EST
Records: UCF 5-3 (3-2in C-USA), Texas 8-0 (5-0 in Big 12)
UCF: The Knights are coming off an epic win over Marshall. UCF stormed back to beat the Thundering Herd in the final seconds of Sunday's game and the team will now look to take that momentum with them as it heads to Texas.
Texas: Look out America, the Longhorns are peaking at the right time. After a narrow win over Oklahoma, Texas has begun to pick things up on offense as the team has put up 41 points in each of its last two games.
UCF Offense vs. Texas Defense
UCF: You can say this about UCF; for the most part, the offense has scored when it's had to. UCF had two touchdowns in the final seven minutes of last week's game to get the one-point victory and so far this season, the unit has really made strides in the second half of games. Brett Hodges hasn't been spectacular but he makes the throws he has to to move the ball and his wide receivers are beginning to step up. The offensive line has been fairly pedestrian as of late and the Knights still appear to be searching for a suitable rotation. Brynn Harvey hasn't ran particularly well since his monster game against Memphis three weeks back.
Texas: The Longhorns have the nation's 11th best defense through the end of last week as they've given up only 13 points per game. They allow just 52 yards per game on the ground and while they haven't necessarily dominated opponents with their front four, their back seven has made things very easy for a relatively inexperienced group up front. The Longhorns use a multitude of complex blitz packages out of different formations and it has obviously worked well. They aren't particularly big in front but they are athletic. Sergio Kindle epitomizes this. The versatile end/linebacker can do everything and he has 34 tackles on the season. While his sack total has gone down, his presence on the field has been invaluable. Emmanuel Acho has had a big season as an outside backer and he spearheads a strong group of linebackers. The team's secondary has been superb as well and the standout in the secondary is safety Earl Thomas. You hear about guys like Taylor Mays and Eric Berry but Thomas has been just as productive. He has six picks, 17 passes defended and he doesn't shy away from contact either.
Key Matchup: Brynn Harvey vs. Texas' linebackers- Gaping holes will be hard to come by but when there is some space Harvey has to make it count. He needs to have a game of a lifetime for UCF to have any kind of chance against Texas. The Longhorns have an extremely athletic group of backers and Harvey will have to be the most physical player on the field to keep UCF's offense balanced.
UCF Defense vs. Texas Offense
UCF: The Knights' defensive front continues to get better and better. Bruce Miller had a game to remember last week and the junior end has developed a knack for playing his best football in big games. Look for the Knights to keep Derrick Hallman at outside linebacker to try and match Texas' speed. The team's corners must play the ball better. They haven't been completely out of position but their lack of experience has prevented them from giving up big plays.
Texas: Colt McCoy might have a chance to strengthen his Heisman numbers. UCF's secondary hasn't been consistent at all this season and look for Texas to take shots against a young secondary. Texas' line has plenty of experience and size to mash people up front. Their pass protection has been iffy but they've given McCoy enough time to make plays. Jordan Shipley is a phenomenal talent at receiver and he might be poised for a big game. Cody Johnson, Fozzy Whitaker, Vondrell McGee and Tre' Newton share reps at running back in a by-committee approach.
Key Matchup: UCF's secondary vs. Texas' receivers- McCoy will get the ball where it needs to be and UCF's defensive front will apply some pressure so a lot of what happens on Saturday will depend on what UCF's young defensive backs do. Can they locate the ball quicker and make plays or will they continue to give up long shots down field? This might be the key to the game for UCF.
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