Central Florida Knights Must Stay Sharp on Road vs SMU Mustangs

By Tyler Brett
william stanback
Brad Barr – USA TODAY Sports

In their first (and ultimately only) season in an automatic qualifier conference, the Central Florida Knights have seized their opportunity to play in a BCS bowl game. They remain a perfect 7-0 in AAC play (10-1 overall) and have already clinched at least a share of the 2013 AAC title. But to win it outright and punch their own ticket to a BCS bowl game this postseason, the Knights need just one more win this weekend against the SMU Mustangs.

On paper, the 10-1 Knights should be able to handle the 5-6 Mustangs on the road with relative ease. But UCF has been playing with fire a bit in the last month with three of their last four games decided by seven points or less. A five-point win over the Houston Cougars, who have been a tough game for many this season, is understandable but the last second field goal to beat the Temple Owls and a late fourth-quarter touchdown to sneak past the South Florida Bulls (a combined 4-19 this season) is not the mark of a team ready for the BCS.

And despite their sub-.500 record, SMU is a dangerous club. They lead the AAC in passing this season and rank No. 3 in total offense. Garrett Gilbert has been slinging the football all over the field this year, averaging 352.8 yards per game (No. 3 in the nation) while throwing 21 touchdowns to seven interceptions this season. Jeremy Johnson and Keenan Holman have been a nice one-two punch in the passing game, ranking No. 2 and No. 4 respectively in the conference in receiving. Together, they combine for 184.4 yards per game and more than 15 receptions per game and have found the endzone 14 times between them.

Add in the fact that they are playing at home with bowl eligibility on the line and the Mustangs become a very dangerous team to close out the season for UCF. 2013 has been a great year for the Knights so far and they have an opportunity to make it a truly special run with a strong showing in a BCS bowl game. But first, they have to take care of business against SMU.

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