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USF Can Help UCF Break Into AP Top 25

UCF can reach the AP Top 25 with two wins, and perhaps some help from rival USF.
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The Associated Press (AP) Top 25 College Football Poll has been released. It’s nothing earth shattering, at least from the naked eye. There are a few interesting points when one looks at the future possibilities for the UCF Knights entering the AP Top 25.

For one, did anyone really believe that USF could help UCF? Well, maybe not intentionally. There is a prime opportunity for that to happen, however.

UCF is technically No. 33 by way of the number of votes it received after the initial AP Top 25. With a chance to gain a key Week 2 victory over Louisville, UCF could move upwards. First, there’s a chance for USF to help UCF, believe it or not. Inside The Knights takes a look at two matchups that can make that happen.

USF Hosts #25 BYU in Week 1

Could it be? USF actually helping UCF? An upset by the Bulls, who just named Baylor transfer quarterback Gerry Bohanon their starter behind center, could do just that. 

Bohanon's insertion into the starting lineup catapulted incumbent quarterback Timmy McClain directly towards the Transfer Portal, so Bohanon will be leading the Bulls against BYU.

BYU is well coached. The leader of the program since the 2016 season, Head Coach Kalani Sitake, has a 48-29 overall record. It's a tough and physical team. It's also one of four teams joining the Big XII, along with UCF, Houston and Cincinnati.

BYU Head Football Coach from 2016-current

HC Kalani Sitake leads his BYU squad against USF in Week 1.

The Cougars have defeated some quality teams the past few seasons, including a big win over Utah in 2021 by the score of 26-17, the eventual Pac 12 2021 Champion that went to the Rose Bowl and lost to Ohio State 48-45. This will be the second season in a row that BYU and USF get together to play a game.

BYU knocked off USF last season 35-27 out in Provo, Utah. This season’s game will take place in Tampa. With a USF victory over BYU, that’s when UCF could capitalize the following week and help its chances of moving into the AP Top 25.

Louisville at UCF, Week 2

UCF should come out and win versus South Carolina State on Sep. 1, a Thursday night game. Louisville, meanwhile, plays on the road against Syracuse two days afterwards. 

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That’s an interesting dynamic to think about, with the Knights getting two extra days of rest prior to playing the Cardinals. As for the players, there’s one key member of the Cardinals that UCF needs to hone in on.

Returning quarterback Malik Cunningham and his 39 combined touchdowns (19 passing, 20 rushing) will lead the Cardinals into the Bounce House against the Knights.

Louisville QB Malik Cunningham is one of college football's most dynamic players.

Louisville QB Malik Cunningham is one of college football's most dynamic players.

During the 2021 matchup, Cunningham accounted for 364 yards and three total touchdowns. UCF must do a better job of containing Cunningham to come out victorious this season. With Cunningham at the controls, Louisville held on for a 42-35 victory over UCF last year. This season’s game will see many new faces.

Both teams saw significant roster makeovers via the Transfer Portal, so this game is going to feature several new players like UCF wide receiver Kobe Hudson (Auburn) and tight end Kemore Gamble (Florida).

Louisville has key transfers as well, including defensive tackle Jermayne Lole (Arizona State), and linebacker Momo Sanogo (Ole Miss), both possible starters.

Projected Week 1 UCF Offensive Depth Chart

2022 UCF Football Schedule

2023 UCF Commitment List

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