If UCF is to win the American Athletic Conference for a third straight season, scoring a road win on Saturday at Lincoln Financial Field is a must.
The Knights will visit Temple on Saturday night in a contest where the loser will likely be out of the conference race. Both the Knights and Owls are 5-2 overall and 2-1 in conference. Both are chasing Cincinnati in the conference.
UCF has bounced back last week with a victory over East Carolina, 41-28. Freshman quarterback Dillon Gabriel has put up gaudy numbers for the Knights and ranks 10th nationally in passer rating. Gabriel has 2,000 yards passing and 17 touchdown tosses this year to go with five interceptions.
Gabriel has a nice set of skill players around him. The 3-headed monster of running backs in Greg McCrae, Adrian Killins Jr. and Bentavious Thompson have combined for more than 1,000 yards rushing and 13 touchdowns. Both Killins and Thompson are averaging better than seven yards per carry. At receiver, junior Gabriel Davis ranks fourth nationally with 833 yards receiving and his 10 touchdown grabs is tied for the FBS lead.
In wins this season, the Temple defense is holding opponents to 15.2 points per game. In losses, it is giving up 41.5 points. Sophomore defensive tackle Ifeanyi Maijeh ranks third in the AAC with six sacks. Shaun Bradley, a linebacker, is the leading tackler for the Owls while Harrison Hand is a stud at safety with 39 total tackles and a team-high three interceptions.
Offensively, quarterback Anthony Russo has a big arm and has cut down on interceptions this year, but is still fairly inconsistent. Freshman running back Re’Mahn Davis may be the best skill player for Temple. The Owls do have a nice duo of wide receivers in Jadan Blue and Branden Mack. In the red zone, senior Isaiah Wright is a threat.
The UCF defense leads the nation with 66 tackles for loss this season. Linebackers Eric Mitchell and Nate Evans have combined for 15 of those this season while sophomore Brendon Hayes leads the Knights with 3.5 sacks. Antwan Collier and Tay Gowan each have two interceptions for UCF this season, but safety Richie Grant is the best player in the secondary.
The Knights have put up 97 total points in the last two meetings against the Owls — both victories. That includes a 52-40 win last season in Orlando. Saturday’s contest begins at 7 p.m. ET and airs on ESPN2.
Prediction: UCF 34, Temple 27
Miami (3-4) at Pittsburgh (5-2)
Saturday, Oct. 26 at 12 p.m. ET (ESPN)
Miami suffered an embarrassing loss at home last week to Georgia Tech and will be traveling to take on a Pittsburgh team with real ACC Coastal title aspirations. The Hurricanes are desperate, but the Panthers are rolling, having won four straight.
Prediction: Pittsburgh 27, Miami 20
Florida International (4-3) at Middle Tennessee State (2-5)
Saturday, Oct. 26 at 3:30 p.m. ET (NFL Network)
Florida International is sitting in a good position at 4-3 while Middle Tennessee State has regressed since a nice win over Marshall. In order to avoid their first losing season since 2011, this is a must-win for the Blue Raiders.
Prediction: Florida International 31, Middle Tennessee State 25
Florida Atlantic (4-3) at Old Dominion (1-6)
Saturday, Oct. 26 at 3:30 p.m. ET (ESPN+)
After a disappointing home loss to Marshall last week, Florida Atlantic will try to bounce back against an Old Dominion team that is winless in Conference USA play and hasn’t defeated an FBS team. The Monarchs’ offense is the worst in the country.
Prediction: Florida Atlantic 30, Old Dominion 10
Syracuse (3-4) at Florida State (3-4)
Saturday, Oct. 26 at 3:30 p.m. ET (ESPN2)
Florida State will look to bounce back from a heartbreaking road loss at Wake Forest against the only ACC team without a conference win. Syracuse could be without starting quarterback Tommy DeVito on Saturday. The Orange have allowed the most sacks in the country at 35 and are averaging just 12 points per game in ACC games.
Prediction: Florida State 34, Syracuse 20
South Florida (3-4) at East Carolina (3-4)
Saturday, Oct. 26 at 3:45 p.m. ET (ESPNU)
Saturday’s contest in Greenville will feature two teams who have gotten better as the year has gone on. Both are among the worst defensive teams in the American Athletic Conference.
Prediction: East Carolina 26, South Florida 24
Tampa Bay Buccaneers (2-4) at Tennessee Titans (3-4)
Sunday, Oct. 27 at 1 p.m. ET (FOX)
Ryan Tannehill breathed some life into a pedestrian Tennessee offense last week as the Titans edged past the Los Angeles Chargers. On the other side, Tampa Bay quarterback Jameis Winston aims to bounce back from a 6-turnover performance.
Prediction: Tampa Bay 27, Tennessee 24
New York Jets (1-5) at Jacksonville Jaguars (3-4)
Sunday, Oct. 27 at 1 p.m. ET (CBS)
The Jacksonville Jaguars will get another AFC bottom-feeder this week as the New York Jets come to town. Running back Leonard Fournette ranks second in the NFL with 715 yards rushing for Jacksonville.
Prediction: Jacksonville 23, Jets 10
Miami Dolphins (0-6) at Pittsburgh Steelers (2-4)
Monday, Oct. 28 at 8:15 p.m. ET (ESPN)
The Miami Dolphins are one of just two NFL teams without a victory, but have been competitive over the last two weeks. Pittsburgh quarterback Mason Rudolph will likely make the start after clearing concussion protocol.
Prediction: Pittsburgh 28, Miami 17
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.