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Thanksgiving Feast: 5 Reasons UCF Beats USF

The UCF Knights should beat the USF Bulls.
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There’s much to be happy about on this Thanksgiving, including five reasons the UCF Knights will knock off the USF Bulls.

The following will have numbers, but it’s honestly more about common sense than statistical fact. In short, there’s a reason UCF is 8-3 and USF is 1-10.

1) The Knights need a big win to reach the American Athletic Conference title game.

There is nothing quite like motivation. With a trip to the AAC title game on the line, there’s no doubt that UCF will come out firing against USF.

Look for an uptempo offense from the outset no matter if it's John Rhys Plumlee or Mikey Keene behind center, including but not limited to running Isaiah Bowser downhill. From there, the passing game going up top and giving wide receivers like Javon Baker a chance to make plays will be readily available.

Also of note, with USF struggling this season, UCF head coach Gus Malzahn and his staff knows that if the Knights go up early on USF, it could challenge the Bulls to mentally stay in the game. Keep an eye on USF’s body language if UCF gets up double digits in the first half.

2) UCF rushing attack goes off.

This pick is as point blank as it gets. UCF averages 234.5 yards on the ground, while USF allows 224.7 yards rushing. Is it out of the question for UCF to rush for 300 yards? No, it is not.

Just as important, the Knights running the football well allows for more of those play-action passes that allows Baker, Kobe Hudson, Ryan O’Keefe, et al, chances to stretch the field.

3) UCF’s offensive speed makes critical plays.

USF is struggling defensively. Much of that stems from allowing chunk-yardage like the 72 plays of 20 yards or more that the Bulls gave up thus far in 2022. In short, speed hurts USF’s defense and does so quite often. It gets worse.

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Against Tulsa, USF allowed seven of 12 on third downs. One game prior, SMU went five of 11. That’s a combined 12 of 23. UCF’s speed should not only get open and hit chunk-yardage plays, look for that speed to make plays during critical third downs, too. 

Keep an eye on the receivers, but also a player like Johnny Richardson being dangerous with a draw play or something similar. He could pop a long run during this contest.

4) USF quarterback Byrum Brown makes freshman mistakes.

He’s a good player as noted on Wednesday when previewing three key USF offensive players. That does not mean that Brown is infallible. Look for the Knights to throw some unique looks after the snap of the football. That’s a good way to create turnovers against a young quarterback.

Gaining an early lead as noted above comes into play as well. If Brown feels like he needs to make something happen, that’s another time where he could turn over the football.

Overall, look for Brown to be responsible for at least a couple of turnovers.

5) Knights red zone defense comes up big again.

At some point, USF’s offense will need to score touchdowns instead of field goals in the red zone. That’s UCF’s strength, however. Once USF is in the red zone, expect the Knights to once again come up big and produce at least one turnover on downs and/or create a turnover.

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