UCF Knights toughest challenge yet

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Joe Broback

Contributor at Champion Insiders
Joe is a writer covering the NFL, NBA, NHL and college football. He also currently writes for SB Nation’s Underdog Dynasty, covering the American Athletic Conference since 2016. Joe enjoys collecting shoes, playing sports, and anything fitness related.
Joe Broback
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A team is only as good as its bond. The UCF Knights produced one of the best runs we’ve seen in college football because they worked together. They won 25 games in a row, and 29 of 30. When things are going well, a team feels unstoppable. As soon as something goes wrong, that can put doubt into the minds of the team. That concept makes UCF’s game against Cincinnati tomorrow the most important game the last three years.

UCF Knights dealing with adversity

Teams have come close to upsetting the Knights in the regular season the last two years, but none could close the game. Memphis came the closest to doing so, but UCF responded to the challenge. The wins bolstered their confidence, and proved they can handle the pressure. Now, they enter new territory.

UCF’s loss to Pitt did more than put a loss in the Knights record this year. Whether you believe it or not, teams now have a formula to emulate to beat UCF. It shows a weakness from a team that didn’t show many in 2017 or 2018. Cincinnati didn’t show up strong last year, but they’re playing well again and have aspects to use from the Pitt game to pull off the upset.

It’s still UCF

UCF’s faces a new challenge of making a statement after a loss, but it’s still the same Knights team. Keep in mind that the Pitt game was the worst they’ve played in the last two years, and they still fought back. Even if Cincinnati jumps out to an early lead, they’ll have to fend off elite talent. If anything, the Knights learned from their mistakes.

Running the ball becomes the key for UCF. Against Pitt, they only rushed for 85 yards (they average over 230 a game). The rushing attack struggled to get going in the game, and they’ll face a Bearcats defense that’s allowing just 130 a game. It doesn’t matter if it’s Greg McCrae, Adrian Killins, Otis Anderson, or anyone else. The running game must start strong. Falling behind and struggling to run the ball puts the pressure on Dillon Gabriel.

If there’s one thing the Bearcats will do, it’s force Gabriel to beat them. Pitt dared him to beat them deep, and he should expect the same on Friday. Fortunately for UCF, he’s capable of hitting his receivers in tight windows. His success Saturday plays a big role in determining the outcome.

Where are they headed?

A loss stunned UCF after fans got used to winning so much. There’s no reason to panic, but it’s naive to think that it won’t happen again. This game is the biggest game in the last three years for this program, because it’s the first time the Knights have seemed vulnerable. Luckily for them, they still have elite talent, and can put pressure on Cincinnati quickly. Starting UCFast gives them confidence, and quiets what should be a loud crowd.

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