Florida Football Friday: UCF Heads to Big Easy to Face Tulane

UCF looks for win No. 8 at Tulane

A pair of teams from The American with winning records will try to bounce back from upset losses on Saturday in New Orleans.

UCF, at 7-3, has been virtually eliminated from an opportunity at an AAC 3-peat after an inexplicable 34-31 loss to Tulsa a few weeks ago, but can notch a 10-win season by winning the remaining regular season games and a bowl game. Tulane comes in with a record of 6-4 after a 29-21 loss at Temple last week.

Quarterback play will be important during Saturday’s contest. UCF freshman Dillon Gabriel ranks 11th nationally in passer rating and has 24 touchdown passes to just seven interceptions, but all of those picks came in losses. Tulane’s Justin McMillan is a dual-threat, but has been more effective with his legs this season than with his arm and has 25 total touchdowns.

When it comes to the offensive skill positions, UCF has the upper-hand with Gabriel Davis coming in as the AAC’s leading receiver with 1,060 yards and 10 touchdown catches. In the backfield, the Knights have four rushers with more than 400 yards, led by Otis Anderson Jr. The combination of Anderson, Adrian Killins, Greg McCrae and Bentavious Thompson have combined for more than 2,000 yards rushing and 24 touchdown rushes.

Tulane’s Corey Dauphine is behind only McMillan in rushing yards, but has been battling injuries of late. If he is unable to go, expect Darius Bradwell to see more carries. Darnell Mooney is the top receiver with 574 yards and five touchdown receptions.

The Knights rank second in the AAC in total defense and third in scoring defense. Tulane ranks fourth and fifth in the conference in those areas. The Green Wave are one of the best teams in The American against the pass and safety P.J. Hall leads the team in tackles, interceptions and forced fumbles. UCF’s Brendon Hayes leads his team with 6.5 sacks. Linebacker Nate Evans is the top tackler for the Knights.

Saturday’s contest in New Orleans begins at 12 p.m. ET and will air on CBS Sports Network. UCF holds a 6-2 edge all-time.

Prediction: UCF 45, Tulane 26

Other Games Across the State

College Football

No. 18 Memphis (9-1) at South Florida (4-6)
Saturday, Nov. 23 at 4 p.m. ET

South Florida stood toe-to-toe last week with an American Athletic Conference powerhouse, but came up just short against Cincinnati. The Bulls will try to complete the job this week against a Memphis team that is two wins away from a third straight AAC Championship appearance.
Prediction: Memphis 38, South Florida 24

Florida Atlantic (7-3) at UTSA (4-6)
Saturday, Nov. 23 at 6 p.m. ET (ESPN+)

Florida Atlantic faces a must-win if it hopes to keep its Conference USA title aspirations alive. UTSA is just 1-3 at home this season against FBS competition.
Prediction: Florida Atlantic 41, UTSA 20

Miami (6-4) at Florida International (5-5)
Saturday, Nov. 23 at 7 p.m. ET (CBS Sports Network)

Red hot Miami will face former head coach Butch Davis and Florida International on Saturday. Davis is 3-2 against the Hurricanes. FIU needs one win to become bowl-eligible.
Prediction: Miami 42, Florida International 14

NFL

Tampa Bay Buccaneers (3-7) at Atlanta Falcons (3-7)
Sunday, Nov. 24 at 1 p.m. ET (FOX)

After a 1-7 start, the Atlanta Falcons have won consecutive games over division foes, outscoring the New Orleans Saints and Carolina Panthers by a combined 55-12 margin. Tampa Bay quarterback Jameis Winston has thrown 13 interceptions over his last five games.
Prediction: Atlanta 31, Tampa Bay 17

Miami Dolphins (2-8) at Cleveland Browns (4-6)
Sunday, Nov. 24 at 1 p.m. ET (FOX)

The Miami Dolphins watched their 2-game winning streak go by the wayside last week against Buffalo as they get set to travel to take on a Cleveland Browns team that has been the talk of the NFL for all the wrong reasons. The Browns desperately need a win to keep their slim playoff hopes alive.
Prediction: Cleveland 24, Miami 16

Jacksonville Jaguars (4-6) at Tennessee Titans (5-5)
Sunday, Nov. 24 at 4:05 p.m. ET (CBS)

The Tennessee Titans have gotten an unlikely boost from veteran quarterback Ryan Tannehill. Jacksonville topped the Titans, 20-7, in the first meeting between the teams back in Week 3.
Prediction: Tennessee 20, Jacksonville 9

Mike Ferguson is a contributor for The Grueling Truth, covering Florida sports and sports history. Follow Mike on Twitter at @MikeWFergusonMikeWFerguson”>@MikeWFerguson/a>. To keep up with all of his work, like his Facebook page.

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