Central Florida looked like a bonafide contender in the AAC early in the season. But those hopes took a serious hit two weeks ago when the Knights lost to Tulsa. Of course, we probably should have taken UCF’s fast start with a grain of salt, as the Knights beat Georgia Tech and East Carolina, two teams that are in the early stages of rebuilding. The Knights are now looking up in the AAC standings at five teams that are yet to lose a game in conference play, meaning UCF doesn’t have much margin for error with regard to finishing first or second in the league and playing in the AAC Championship Game.
UCF quarterback Dillon Gabriel looked as good as ever during the wins over Georgia Tech and East Carolina. But things weren’t so easy for Gabriel against Tulsa. While he threw for 330 yards, he needed 51 pass attempts to do it. The Knights also turned it over three times, which stunted their normally high-flying offense. Obviously, the UCF offense has all of the ingredients to get back on track quickly, so there’s no reason to sell your stock in the Knights. However, things may not be so easy if the Knights are met with a little defensive resistance.
Speaking of defensive resistance, that’s one area where UCF has struggled this season. Even in wins, they gave up 21 points against Georgia Tech and 28 points against East Carolina. That’s good enough for the Knights when the UCF is clicking, but the equation changes if Gabriel and the offense have another subpar outing. While it was Tulsa quarterback Zach Smith who hurt them in their loss, the Knights have also looked susceptible on the ground, which could be a concern against a Memphis team that’s capable of hurting teams with both the run and the pass.
The Tigers will be excited just to have the chance to play this week after having multiple games canceled or postponed because of COVID-19. Memphis has played just two games this season. The Tigers beat Arkansas State on September 5 but didn’t play again until October 3 when they lost to SMU. With any luck, they will play eight games in the next eight weeks. Of course, with the loss to SMU, they are 0-1 in conference play and have a lot of catching up to do if they hope to make it back to the AAC Championship Game to defend their title, making this a must-win game.
The good news for the Tigers is that they’re always in good hands with quarterback Brady White. The senior has a wealth of experience and is arguably the best quarterback in the county outside the power conferences. That being said, he’s not been as sharp as you’d expect given the time off between his first and second game of the season. He threw two interceptions and missed some throws he usually makes against SMU and could have a little more rust to shake off after another two-week layoff. White hasn’t been sharp on deep throws, which is usually a big part of his game. If he’s not at his best this week, the Tigers will have to lean a little more on their rushing attack, which has been productive but has taken a step back from last year.
Defensively, the Tigers have been a mixed bag this season. They held SMU to just two field goals in the second half of their last game. But they also got lit up in the first half and didn’t do enough to get the win. In fairness, the Memphis defense has been stout against the run in both games this season. However, pass defense remains a big concern for the Tigers, especially against a team like UCF.
Full Game Prediction
The pressure is on the defense of both teams to make the difference in this game. While both Memphis and UCF have a potent offense, both have been contained at times this season. If either defense can find a way to get a couple of stops or force a couple of turnovers, it could end up being the difference between winning and losing.
Don’t forget to check out and sign up for one of our BetQL subscriptions. With a subscription, you’ll have access to advanced stats and trends for this matchup, not to mention our official UCF vs Memphis prediction.