UCF will travel to a road game for the first time in the 2021 season on Friday night with a chance for Knights first-year coach Gus Malzahn to impress voters in polls and college football fans across the country during a game in the spotlight in Louisville. The Knights are 2-0 after a spectacular win over Boise State in Game 1 and a routine 63-14 victory over Bethune-Cookman in Week 2. This is the first time UCF will play away this season and it comes against Power Five’s only opponent on the team’s regular season schedule.
But while UCF may be seeking legitimacy as a top team, Louisville must see this as a chance to succeed. The Cardinals started the year in a 26-0 halftime hole against Ole Miss in the Chick-fil-A pitching game before the offense finally began with a 43-24 loss. Last week’s victory over Eastern Kentucky grabbed the headlines, including star defensive back Kei’Trel Clark who had two interceptions and a breakout game from first-year wide receiver Ahmari Huggins-Bruce. Still, the Cards envision this winnable game against a top-tier opponent as a way to build confidence with ACC play starting next week in Florida State.
This is the third all-time meeting between the two programs that shared a conference affiliation – and competed for a conference championship – in a single season in the AAC in 2013. The Knights won that game 38-35 en route to a victory at the Fiesta Bowl. .
Louisville vs. UCF: namely
Compact departure for Louisville: The Cardinals face one of the tightest windows possible for their first three games. It’s a test Scott Satterfield and his staff tried to prepare for throughout fall camp. Overall, it’s going to be three games in 12 days, with two of those games against opponents who are favorites to win. It’s a long season with plenty of opportunities to rack up wins in the ACC game, but coming out of that 12-day stretch with just a 30-3 win over Eastern Kentucky would be disappointing.
UCF QB Dillon Gabriel in mid-season form: After dominating the country in passing yards per game in 2020, Dillon Gabriel has shown no signs of slowing down even after Josh Heupel’s transition from coaching to Malzahn. Over the course of two games, Gabriel averages 315 passing yards per game and ranks in the nation’s top 10 for passing touchdowns, responsible points and total offense. The Louisville defense has struggled to slow down Ole Miss’s Matt Corral, another of the nation’s top quarterbacks, so the Cardinals need to limit Gabriel to take the win on Friday night.
A win should propel UCF into the top 25: The Knights finished just outside the AP Top 25 and Coaches poll after Week 2. After starting the year outside the top 30 in both standings, the relentless victory over Boise State positioned UCF for join Cincinnati in the national standings and give the American Athletic Conference two viable candidates for the New Year’s Six. While Louisville’s eventual form remains to be determined at the start of the season, it would still be a quality win to start on. off the road for a short week in a hostile Power Five environment like Cardinal Stadium.
How to watch Louisville vs. UCF live
Dated: Friday Sep 17th | Time: 7:30 p.m. ET
Site: Cardinal Stadium – Louisville, Kentucky
TV: ESPN | Direct: fuboTV (Try for free)
Louisville vs UCF prediction, pick
Featured Game | Louisville Cardinals vs. UCF Knights
While a lot of time has been spent discussing Gabriel and the ways he can beat teams with his arms and legs, there has been a real boost from Northwestern Isaiah Bowser’s transfer. The 6-1, 225-pound backer is averaging 115 yards per game and is tied for second nationally in rushing touchdowns with five scores. He brings a physique that helps this attack win in short range goals and goals to go, providing balance and a complement to the concepts of spread that persist even after the transition from coaching. The Louisville defense had issues with Ole Miss early on, and this gang will provide opportunities for Gus and the UCF to find enough advantage to get in and out of Cardinal Stadium with a win. Prediction: UCF (-7)
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