No. 17 UCF will face what may be its toughest test yet on Saturday as the Knights return to Spectrum Stadium to take on Stanford.
The Knights haven’t lost a regular season game since 2016 and have outscored Florida A&M and Florida Atlantic by a combined 110-14 margin. UCF will enter Saturday’s contest against Stanford ranking in the top 10 nationally in both total offense and total defense.
Offensively, the Knights have turned to freshman Dillon Gabriel at quarterback over transfer senior Brandon Wimbush. Gabriel has not been terribly efficient when it comes to completion rate, but he did average about 13 yards per attempt and 32 yards per completion last week against FAU.
Gabriel has a loaded group of skill players around him to include running backs Greg McCrae, Adrian Killins and wide receiver Gabriel Davis. The Knights will be facing a Stanford team that should be stout on defense.
Last week however, the Cardinal gave up 45 points to a USC team with a true freshman quarterback in Kedon Slovis making his first career start. Cornerback Paulson Adebo is one of the nation’s best cover men. Linebackers Casey Toohill and Andrew Pryts are also very good players.
The UCF defense is giving up just seven points and less than 200 yards per game. Safety Richie Grant hasn’t put up huge numbers, but is still one of the best defensive players in the American Athletic Conference. Brendon Hayes, a senior, leads the Knights with two sacks.
The dismal Stanford offense will get quarterback K.J. Costello back after missing last week to injury, but the Cardinal did lose tackle Walker Little for the year. Running back Cameron Scarlett is a solid player, but as a team, the Cardinal are averaging just 3.3 yards per carry. 6-foot-7 tight end Colby Parkinson could be a player that gives the Knights fits.
If this one is close, Stanford kicker Jet Toner could be a significant player. At this point however, it seems like Stanford has more questions than answers. The contest begins at 3:30 p.m. ET and airs on ESPN.
Prediction: UCF 30, Stanford 17
Florida Atlantic (0-2) at Ball State (1-1)
Saturday, Sept. 14 at 2 p.m. ET (ESPN+)
After opening with back-to-back ranked opponents, Florida Atlantic will make the long trip to Muncie to take on Ball State. The Cardinals were competitive with Indiana in the season opener and appear to have the edge at quarterback with Drew Pitt.
Prediction: Ball State 31, Florida Atlantic 27
Bethune-Cookman (1-0) at Miami (0-2)
Saturday, Sept. 14 at 4 p.m. ET (ACC Network)
Miami is 0-2 for the first time since 1978, but the Hurricanes’ two losses came by just a combined seven points. Quarterback Jarren Williams should have a chance to bolster his confidence against Bethune-Cookman.
Prediction: Miami 48, Bethune-Cookman 7
South Carolina State (2-0) at South Florida (0-2)
Saturday, Sept. 14 at 6 p.m. ET (ESPN3)
South Florida has lost eight straight games going back to last season and probably let one slip away against Georgia Tech last week. South Carolina State should prove to be the remedy.
Prediction: South Florida 40, South Carolina State 17
No. 9 Florida (2-0) at Kentucky (2-0)
Saturday, Sept. 14 at 7 p.m. ET (ESPN)
Kentucky won last season in Gainesville to snap a 31-year losing streak to Florida. The loss of starting quarterback Terry Wilson makes another upset of Florida unlikely.
Prediction: Florida 27, Kentucky 17
New Hampshire (0-1) at Florida International (0-2)
Saturday, Sept. 14 at 7 p.m. ET (ESPN3)
After losses to Tulane and Western Kentucky to open the year, a home contest against New Hampshire may not be as easy as it seems for Butch Davis and Florida International. The Golden Panthers are averaging less than 250 yards of total offense per game.
Prediction: Florida International 28, New Hampshire 12
Florida State (1-1) at No. 25 Virginia
Saturday, Sept. 14 at 7:30 p.m. ET (ACC Network)
Florida State may have actually regressed from blowing an 18-point lead in the opener against Boise State as the Seminoles needed a missed extra point in overtime to sneak past Louisiana-Monroe. Virginia has one of the ACC’s best defenses and one of the conference’s top quarterbacks in senior Bryce Perkins.
Prediction: Virginia 41, Florida State 24
Tampa Bay Buccaneers (0-1) at Carolina Panthers (0-1)
Thursday, Sept. 12 at 8:20 p.m. ET (NFL Network)
The Carolina Panthers gave a valiant effort at home last week in a loss to the Los Angeles Rams. In a make-or-break year for Tampa Bay Buccaneers’ quarterback Jameis Winston, the fifth-year signal-caller was dismal in last week’s home loss to the San Francisco 49ers with three interceptions, including a pick-6 to seal the contest.
Prediction: Carolina 31, Tampa Bay 16
New England Patriots (1-0) at Miami Dolphins (0-1)
Sunday, Sept. 15 at 1 p.m. ET (CBS)
Sunday’s contest in South Florida could signal the New England Patriots’ debut of wide receiver Antonio Brown. Last week, the Miami Dolphins gave up the most points ever at home in a 59-10 loss to the Baltimore Ravens.
Prediction: New England 48, Miami 13
Jacksonville Jaguars (0-1) at Houston Texans (0-1)
Sunday, Sept. 15 at 1 p.m. ET (CBS)
The Jacksonville Jaguars not only lost to the Kansas City Chiefs in Week 1, but they lost quarterback Nick Foles in the process. The Houston Texans lost a Monday night heartbreaker to the New Orleans Saints, but should bounce back on Sunday.
Prediction: Houston 27, Jacksonville 14
Mike Ferguson is a contributor for The Grueling Truth, covering Florida sports and sports history. Follow Mike on Twitter at @MikeWFerguson. To keep up with all of his work, like his Facebook page.
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