Heading into the 2014 season, many people believed that the Missouri Tigers could be a contender – once again – to win the SEC title. With a new quarterback under center and a solid unit returning on both sides of the ball, Missouri could very well repeat what it did last season and head to the conference title game. A 2-0 record is a pretty good start toward that goal.
On the other side of things, the UCF Knights lost some major talent from last year’s Fiesta Bowl winning team – like quarterback Blake Bortles. However, the Knights proved that they can hand with power conference teams still as they lost to the Penn State Nittany Lions on a last-second field goal in week one. Sitting at 0-1, UCF will look to prove itself once again.
Losing James Franklin from an SEC East champion team looked to be a huge blow to the offense, but stud sophomore Maty Mauk has stepped up his game in order to fill the huge shoes. Mauk has led the Tigers to a 2-0 start behind his 503 yards and eight touchdowns, spreading the ball out to a wealth of receivers. Bud Sasser leads all receivers with 158 yards and two touchdowns on just seven catches while Darius White also has seven catches but for 152 yards and three touchdowns. The run game looks to be pretty solid as well behind Russell Hansbrough who has 38 carries for 210 yards and two touchdowns. Marcus Murphy has been a solid backup, accounting for 110 yards on 22 carries.
Like I said earlier, the Knights have lost a couple major pieces like Bortles and running back Storm Johnson who have both moved on to the next level. The offense looked to struggle with the new pieces in place in week one against Penn State, racking up just 246 yards of total offense and 24 points. Sophomore Justin Holman has taken Bortles place and he did well in his first start, completing 64 percent of his passes for 204 yards and a touchdown while rushing for another two scores. J.J. Worton has been the young quarterback’s favorite target through one game, catching five passes for 83 yards while Breshad Prerriman has three catches for 81 yards. The run game accounted for just 24 yards in week one.
Defensively, the Knights didn’t give up many points to Penn State in week one, but they did, however, get torched through the air by the opposing quarterback Christian Hackenberg. Central Florida allowed an astounding 454 passing yards in week one, but halted the run game, allowing just 57 yards on the ground. Missouri hasn’t been very impressive either, allowing 21 points per contest but an elevated 388 yards per contest to two lesser programs.
Central Florida will travel to Missouri to take on the Tigers at 12 p.m. EST on Saturday, Sept. 13. The game will be broadcasted on SEC Network.
PREDICTION: Central Florida 17, Missouri 37
Connor Muldowney is a columnist for RantSports.com. Follow him on Twitter @Connormuldowney, “Like” him on Facebook or add him to your network on Google. You can also reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org.