Central Florida (6-6) vs Arkansas State (7-5)
The best defensive players in Conference USA and the Sun Belt will square off in this season’s Autonation Cure Bowl at Camping World Stadium later today.
When UCF has the ball: Central Florida had a rather pedestrian offense this season, which probably explains why Head Coach Scott Frost didn’t get hired away by a better program. The knights were 10th in Conference USA in total offense and have no real players of note at the skill positions. Sophomore receiver Tra’Quan Smith has had some success as a deep threat but in order to benefit from his play the Knights offensive line will need to control a dominant defensive front seven of Arkansas State. All four starting defensive linemen for the Red Wolves had at least 6 TFL’s over the course of the season, led by Ja’Von Rolland-Jones’ 19.
When Arkansas State Has The Ball: Quarterback Justice Hansen has a few options to work with, including tight end Blake Mack and running back Warren Wand. Still, Arkansas State managed to convert only 30% of their third down conversions on the season, and will need to do better against a stingy UCF defense. Shaquem Griffin leads the Knights defense having accumulated 19 TFL’s himself in his first year at linebacker.
Analysis: Both teams are rather pedestrian on offense but have solid defensive units led by exciting playmakers in the front seven. The difference in this game will come down to how well UCF’s offensive line can contain the Red Wolves penetration. UCF gives up about 8 TFL’s per game so far, and that suggests it is unlikely that they will be able control the line of scrimmage easily.
Arkansas State 27 UCF 20