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UCF Knights vs. Memphis Tigers: Preview and Prediction

The Knights need to rebound on the road following a bye

Fresh off a bye week after their perplexing loss to Tulsa, the UCF Knights are on the road again, for the third time in the first four games, to take on the perennially competitive yet snakebit Memphis Tigers.

ABC will carry the game live, making it the third time the national network has seen UCF this season.

When: 3:30 p.m. ET

Where: Liberty Bowl Memorial Stadium, Memphis, Tennessee

Gametime Weather: Sunny, high of 70. Winds at 9 mph. FOOTBALL WEATHER!

Line: UCF -2.5, Over/under 75.5 (OddsShark)

Threads: Big Game Gold helmets, tricolor

Network: ABC

Crew: Mark Jones (play-by-play) and Roddy Jones (analyst)

All-time: UCF leads 13-1, and has won 13 in a row since 2005. Memphis’ last win was back in 1990, when UCF was in Division I-AA and Memphis was a I-A Independent. Three of the last five meetings have been decided by one score.

Last Meeting: The 2018 American Championship. DJ Mack led a spectacular comeback when all looked lost.

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Of note: The last two meetings in the Liberty Bowl have been decided late in tight one-score games. You remember 2018’s 31-30 thriller, but you may not remember the 2013 game, where UCF scored a tying TD with 2:05 left on a fortuitous fumble recovery by Chris Martin, and on the ensuing kickoff, Will Stanback did this:

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The Tigers opened the season with a victory over Arkansas State, but then didn’t play for a month because of a COVID-19 outbreak. In their first game back, they lost a critical conference game with SMU on a late field goal, 30-27.

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The Tigers also had last week off as scheduled.

Head Coach: Ryan Silverfield. Silverfield is in his first year, taking over after Mike Norvell left for Florida State after four successful years. He has been an assistant at Memphis since 2016, coaching the offensive line which led the way for Darrell Henderson. Silverfield played his high school ball at The Bolles School in Jacksonville, and served as a grad assistant at UCF under George O’Leary in 2006 and 2007, working with the O-Line that helped Kevin Smith to a 2,500-yard season.

When UCF Has the Ball
Tulsa v Central Florida Photo by Alex Menendez/Getty Images

Memphis’ defense is 16th in the nation against the run, but 76th against the pass. Their five leading tacklers are all in the secondary. So Dillon Gabriel has a golden opportunity here on a sunny day (as opposed to the rainy Tulsa game) to tear the Tiger defense asunder.

However, to do so, he must attack the entire field. UCF has not attacked the middle of the field overly much, and if the passing game is going to flow, it must get less predictable.

AAC Championship - Memphis v Central Florida Photo by Julio Aguilar/Getty Images

Brady White is back again, running another strong offense that is remarkably balanced (15th nationally in rushing, 19th in passing, 9th overall). With Kenny Gainwell opting out this year, the rushing attack has fallen to Rodrigues Clark, who has run for 203 yards this season, and Kylan Watkins, who has picked up another 120. When White attacks through the air, he has looked for WR Damonte Coxie and TE Sean Dykes, who have each caught 16 balls apiece this year.

The pressure will be on UCF’s linebackers, Eriq Gilyard and Eric Mitchell, to stuff the run and not fall for play action.

Listen to our latest podcast as we preview the game:

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