LOUISVILLE CARDINALS (1-1) vs. CENTRAL FLORIDA GOLDEN KNIGHTS
Game Time: 7:30 p.m.
Location: Cardinal Stadium: Louisville, Ky.
Announcers: Jason Benetti (play-by-play), Andre Ware (analyst) and Paul Carcaterra (sideline)
Favorite: Central Florida by 6.5
All-Time Series: Tied, 1-1
Last Meeting: Central Florida won 38-35 on Oct. 18, 2013
Central Florida Uniforms:
Louisville Depth Chart:
Central Florida Depth Chart:
Game Day Guide:
Excitement Level: 8.5
UCF fans being so obnoxious all week has me feeling like old times. If we don’t show up for this one, it’s gonna be hard for the Excitement Level to get back to this point before the end of the season.
Game Attire: Red Heisman bird t-shirt
We’re going back to the football gear after a one-week break. This is a very old school piece of clothing that’s being put in a difficult situation. Time for the wily veteran to make a play.
Pregame Meal: Pizza
Papa Murphy’s? Too soon to say.
Bold Prediction: Louisville once again blocks a punt against UCF
We’ve been close in both of the first two games, but still no hits. This is the night.
Justin Marshall TD Alert Level: Orange (good)
The Alert Level told you exactly what was going to happen last week and then we all watched No. 18 find the endzone for the first time. It’s a little less confident this week, but it’s still feeling more positive than negative.
Predicted Star of the Game: Kei’Trel Clark
Clark was the obvious star of last week’s game and he’s ready to run it back for a second straight week against a UCF offense that should try and challenge him a handful of times.
About Central Florida:
Bryan Brown will be earning his raise early this season as he gets to plan for another high-powered offense that will test the talent and preparedness of his defense. UCF enters the game Friday with a third-year starter at Quarterback and a highly regarded offensive coach in Gus Malzahn. Brown will have his hands full with this offense.
Experienced Quarterbacks are not as common as they used to be with the transfer portal as well as the premium the NFL puts on the position. More signal-callers are heading to the NFL early or looking for an opportunity to play so it’s a little rarer to see a third-year starter like Dillon Gabriel. The southpaw manages his offense very well and he is so good at getting the ball out quickly and getting people in the right spots in their tempo offense.
Gabriel is a special talent but what he does best is protect the football. He has some gunslinger to his game like any other tempo Quarterback but he doesn’t make a lot of mistakes and it helps his offense score points because they are not just a pass-happy offense. They can run the ball well and Gabriel can scramble when things break down. He doesn’t force the ball a lot but when he does, Louisville will have to take advantage. Gabriel is about 60% passer in his career so he can obviously miss on some throws.
The UCF running game was a question mark coming into the season as the Golden Knights lost some Running Backs to injury and transfer. However, Isaiah Bowser has stepped up to be the feature back and he is averaging over 100 yards a game and has 4 touchdowns after transferring in from Northwestern. This is the key to the offense in my opinion as things started off very rough in their first game until they adjusted and started relying on Bowser to keep the defense honest. UCF found a gem in Bowser and they can now run a well-rounded offense.
UCF struggled early against Boise State when it came to getting Receivers open. They took some shots down the field but couldn’t separate. That changed once the run had to be respected and they found some room on the outside while scheming some underneath throws. Jaylon Robinson is the top target for UCF after transferring in from Oklahoma last season. He is a shifty player with the type of speed that you don’t typically chase down. He is also the exact type of Receiver that has killed UofL over the last handful of years.
The Golden Knights also have Ryan O’Keefe and Brandon Johnson out wide. O’Keefe is similar to Robinson as he is on the smaller side but they both make a lot of contested catches in traffic. Johnson is a bigger target at 6-2/195 and he has 12 catches and 2 touchdowns this season.
UCF is another team that makes it hard to pressure. They get the ball out quickly and their line does a good job of protecting the Quarterback. UCF has also done well to clear running lanes for Bowser. Though he runs tough and sheds tacklers well, there are plenty of times where he isn’t being touched until the second level. This is a big Offensive Line that will test the deeper front seven that Louisville has utilized so far this season.
Louisville’s offense has struggled to get things going this year but they should face a different look on defense this week when UCF brings their aggressive scheme to town. The Golden Knights have played well this year on defense after struggling to slow down Boise State early in their first game. Their adjustments worked well in that game and they have stifled nearly everything since halftime of game one.
The Defensive Line for the Golden Knights has set the tone for the entire defense. Kalia Davis has been a terror at Defensive Tackle with his non-stop motor and disruptive play. He is 6-2/315 but he chases everything down sideline-to-sideline. He and Western Kentucky transfer, Ricky Barber have played very well so far.
On the edges, Markaviest Bryant has played pretty well after transferring in from Auburn. Bryant was second-team All-SEC last year but decided to follow Gus Malzhan as a grad transfer. While he and the defense as a whole don’t have a sack on the season, they have done well to pressure Quarterbacks. Bryant is a standup Defensive End in this 4-3 scheme and he has been a big factor in how they set the edge against the run. His length allows him to hold off blocks pretty well.
The Linebackers for the Knights have also been a big factor in their run defense. This defense is hyper-aggressive and they fly up to make plays against the run. Even if they don’t make the tackle, they force the back to make a move, and then others can come up to make the play. Tatum Bethune and Jeremiah Jean-Baptiste do a very good job of shooting gaps and creating havoc. What I haven’t seen from them is great coverage in the middle of the field. There could be an opportunity there for Louisville.
UCF runs a lot of man with a lot of single-high Safety looks or “Zero” coverage with no Safety help. Divaad Wilson is a Georgia transfer who has looked good so far in coverage and Quadric Bullard leads the team in tackles so far this year. With this team blitzing so much, Louisville will have to find a way to test the secondary as we see teams do with Louisville’s aggressive defense. Boise State had some success with slant routes so I would hope to see Louisville do the same.
—Louisville is 51-32-1 all-time record in Friday night games.
—The Cardinals have won 10 of their last 15 games played on Friday nights. One of those five losses came in 2013 against UCF.
—Under Scott Satterfield, Louisville is 11-0 when winning the turnover battle, and just 1-12 when losing it.
—In eight seasons as a head coach, Scott Satterfield’s teams are 53-5 when scoring 30 or more points. Louisville is 12-2 in such games under Satterfield, with the two losses coming last season against Miami and Virginia Tech.
—Since the start of the 2017 season, UCF has accumulated a record of 43-8. The Golden Knights went 13-0 in 2017, 12-1 in 2018, 10-3 in 2019, 6-4 in 2020, and have started the 2021 campaign 2-0 under Malzahn. UCF’s 43 wins in its last 51 games trails only Alabama, Clemson, Ohio State and Notre Dame nationally for the most victories in a program’s last 51 contests.
—Louisville is 0-6 under Scott Satterfield when being held to 21 points or fewer.
—Louisville kicker James Turner has made 10 consecutive field goals, the fourth longest streak of consecutive made field goals in U of L history. For his career, Turner is 15-for-15 on field goal attempts from less than 50 yards out. Turner’s only two career misses both came from 52 yards away.
—UCF QB Dillon Gabriel has started the season averaging 315.0 passing yards per game and ranks in the top 10 in the nation in passing touchdowns, points responsible for, and total offense. His 357.0 passing yards per game last season set a school record.
—Both Louisville and UCF are appearing on ESPN for the second time in their first three games this season.
—Louisville is 5-3 in non-conference games under Satterfield, going 3-2 in 2019 and 1-0 last season.
—Having started the program in 1979 and only having been playing at the FBS level since 1996, UCF became the youngest program by 35 years to win a New Year’s Six/BCS bowl game when the Golden Knights defeated Baylor in the 2014 Fiesta Bowl.
—UCF is one of just 16 programs to have appeared in three New Year’s Six/BCS bowl games since 2013 and one of only 13 to have won two such games in that span.
—Louisville QB Malik Cunningham has joined Lenny Lyles as the only U of L players to rush for four or more touchdowns in four separate seasons. Cunningham’s four rushing touchdowns so far this season are the 7th-most in the country.
—A win over Louisville on Friday would be Gus Malzahn’s 80th as a head coach.
—UCF is the nation’s No. 1 rush defender, allowing only 1.1 yards per carry.
—Louisville will honor former head coach Howard Schnellenberger, who died on March 27, with a helmet sticker that will be worn for the entirety of the 2021 season.
—Louisville is 140-104-6 all-time during the month of September, including 4-5 in the month under Scott Satterfield.
—UCF has ranked in the top eight nationally in both total offense and scoring in each of the last three seasons, the only team in the country to accomplish that. The Golden Knights scored 30 or more points in 31 straight games from Aug. 31, 2017 to Sept. 28, 2019, which set a record for the longest streak in the Associated Press Poll era (since 1936).
—After putting up 63 against Bethune-Cookman last week, UCF has now scored 30 or more points in 47 of its last 50 games.
—UCF enters Friday night ranked sixth in the nation in scoring offense at 49.5 points per game and second in total offense with 622.0 yards of total offense per game.
—Louisville is 10-1 under Scott Satterfield when leading at halftime, and 12-1 when leading at the end of the 3rd quarter.
—Louisville is currently riding a consecutive game scoring streak that spans 263 games dating back to a 31-0 loss to Florida State during the 2000 season. The streak ranks as the second longest in the ACC behind only Virginia Tech, and the 11th-longest nationally.
—Louisville is 192-14 all-time when scoring 35 or more points in a game. The Cards are also 6-120 all-time when allowing opponents to score 40 or more points.
—“We are playing an outstanding team in Central Florida. They have had two big wins, they played well throughout the whole game last week (vs. Bethune Cookman), played really well the second half of the Boise State game. They pretty much shut Boise down in the second half defensively, and then got some things going offensively.” —Scott Satterfield
—“It’s going to be a challenge. They run a lot of stretch and outside zone. We’ve not seen a lot of that. That will be a challenge. They’re very good running the football on the edge. Our run defense has been really good so far.” —UCF head coach Gus Malzahn
—“We should start fast and stay consistent. No ups and downs. We got to be consistent and play Louisville football; hard-nosed football, executing the calls, making plays when our numbers are called, and having fun while doing so.”—Justin Marshall
—“They are a fast tempo offense with a veteran quarterback that makes a lot of plays. They have a strong running game and passing game, so they certainly put pressure on defenses.” —Scott Satterfield
—“It’ll be a really good test of where we’re at. Just looking forward to seeing how our guys respond on the road against a very solid team.” —UCF head coach Gus Malzahn
—“We can’t keep starting slow and expect the second half to be how it’s been the last two games. We need to pick it up. If we start fast the sky is the limit for this team when the horse gets to rolling. It’s actually really scary.” —Malik Cunningham
—“We know things aren’t going our way. It’s been hard looking at film the last couple of games, because we’re literally just two inches away from a two-yard gain that should be a 25-yard gain. That’s the part that hurts the most. Everybody’s ready, we just got to have that mental part. I love them boys, and them boys are gonna be just fine.” —Caleb Chandler
Card Chronicle Prediction: Central Florida 34, Louisville 31