Starting the year 4-0, it was all downhill for the North Carolina State Wolfpack after that. N.C. State followed that solid start up by losing five of its next six games before finishing the season off with two consecutive wins, equalling out to a 7-5 record. The Central Florida Knights, on the other hand, won nine of their last 10 games of the year after an 0-2 start.
Just one year removed from its first-ever BCS bowl bid, the Knights of Central Florida have won nine games, even after losing their starting quarterback from last year, Blake Bortles. Sophomore quarterback Justin Holman has done a solid job filling in for Bortles, passing for 2,661 yards and 20 touchdowns with a 59 percent completion rate and 13 picks. For the second straight season, wide out Breshad Perriman has broken the 800-yard mark, catching 41 passes for 906 yards and nine touchdowns. Sophomore William Stanback averaged just 3.7 yards per carry, but leads the team with 659 yards and 10 rushing scores.
N.C. State’s passing attack has struggled at times this season with first-year starter Jacoby Brissett under center. The junior quarterback passed for 2,344 yards, 22 touchdowns and just five interceptions, but faltered down the stretch, failing to break the 100-yard mark through the air three times in his final seven games. Brissett was, however, second on the team in rushing, accounting for 498 yards and three touchdowns, trailing only Shadrach Thornton‘s 811 yards and nine scores on the ground. Bo Hines has been the team’s top receiver, catching 42 passes for 537 yards, but catching just one touchdown pass.
Defensively, the Wolfpack have been one of the more average teams in the country, ranking 50th in total yards allowed and 68th in points allowed per contest. The Knights, on the other hand, have been extremely solid, ranking ninth in scoring and third nationally in total defense.
When: 8 p.m. EST on Friday, Dec. 26
Where: Tropicana Field in St. Petersburg, Fla.
PREDICTION: N.C. State 14, UCF 20
Want to see N.C. State take on UCF in the St. Petersburg Bowl? Check out ScoreBig for tickets.
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.