LOUISVILLE CARDINALS (0-1) at CENTRAL FLORIDA KNIGHTS (1-0)
Game Time: 7:30 p.m.
Location: FBC Mortgage Stadium: Orlando, Fla.
Announcers: Roy Philpott (play-by-play), Andre Ware (analyst) and Paul Carcaterra (sidelines)
Favorite: Central Florida by 5.5
All-Time Series: Louisville leads, 2-1
Louisville Depth Chart:
Excitement Level: 4.5
It’s Friday night football against a quality opponent, but between what happened last week and what I fear is going to happen Friday night, I am admittedly more down than I should be.
Game Attire: Lamar leap t-shirt
I’m not sure I’ll ever wear last week’s shirt again.
Pregame Meal: Torchy’s Tacos
I’m going to be across the bridge for the pregame show, and when I go across the bridge, I don’t come back without Torchy’s.
Bold Prediction: Louisville scores more than 7 points
Looking for any sort of win here.
Rance Conner Tackle Alert Level: Outrageous Orange (solid)
Our man saw the field last week against Syracuse. The next step is getting onto the stat sheer.
Predicted Star of the Game: Tiyon Evans
Running it back for a second straight week.
About Central Florida:
The UCF offense entered this season with some uncertainty after losing some key players from last year’s 9-win team. Those concerns were put to rest pretty quickly after their offense walked down the field against an overmatched South Carolina State team. Gus Malzahn has shown again that his system can reload quickly as long as he has a strong signal caller.
John Rhys Plumlee made the decision to transfer away from Ole Miss after last season in a quest to be a starting quarterback after being moved to wide receiver. He couldn’t have picked a better spot than UCF. The ultra-athletic quarterback used his legs last weekend to run for 100 yards but his ability to pass the ball in this system really stood out. He had the best game of his career as a passer, completing 65% of his passes and four touchdowns. Louisville will be in for another big test as Plumlee is not only a good runner but also a threat to score anytime he leaves the pocket.
Louisville was able to slow down UCF’s rushing attack for half of the game last season with Isiah Bowser being kept in check. The second half was a different story as Johnny Richardson ended up running for 101 yards on only 9 carries. That obviously can’t happen again if the Cards want to come home with a win. Richardson is a threat to break big runs while Bowser is more of a power back. Containing them and putting the offense in long third downs will be important.
The Knights lost some of their firepower at wide receiver but they mined the transfer portal well to bring in some talented options. Javon Baker is a transfer from Alabama who couldn’t push his way into the rotation. He is coming off of a game where he pulled in five passes. Kobe Hudson led Auburn in catches last season but he didn’t record a stat last week. Bringing in talent from the SEC is obviously big for UCF. Throw in Kemore Gamble at tight end and you have three guys who played at the SEC level lining up for an offense that knows how to use them.
Ryan O’Keefe is the guy on offense that worries me the most. O’Keefe had a long touchdown in the game last year but his ability to take a short pass and make a play is what makes him such a key player. Sometimes you just need 6-8 yards to keep a drive going and that’s where he is the big factor. UofL will have to tackle better than they did last week or they will keep giving up long drives.
The UCF offensive line is a mix of veterans and newcomers. Ryan Svoboda transferred in from Virginia and took over at right tackle. Matt Lee returns at center and has been named to the Rimington Award watch list. While there aren’t any glaring weaknesses, the offense didn’t run the ball exceptionally well at the running back position last weekend. There’s some potential here for Louisville as the two guard positions are manned by new starters. Can some of the looks, games, and stunts the Cards run up front cause some confusion?
Gus Malzahn has never been known as a defensive mastermind but he has done a good job of hiring defensive coaches who could at least field a solid group. He really hit it out of the park with Travis Williams who had not called a defense before last season. Williams has infused his own aggressive and fiery personality into his defense. He will have his group fired up to try to shut down the Louisville offense.
A familiar face will key the defensive front for the Knights. Doss High School product Ricky Barber will line up at defensive tackle against Louisville for the fourth straight year. You read that correctly. Barber started his career at Western Kentucky where he played against the Cards in his first two seasons. He then transferred to UCF before last season and he will see Caleb Chandler and Adonis Boone once again.
Barber and Anthony Montalvo are the two interior linemen in the 3-3-5 scheme that Williams deploys. This defense is a bit of a mix between what Syracuse runs and what Louisville runs. Essentially, the “Dog” position lines up as a stand-up defense end while they have a fifth defensive back instead of a “Card”. Montalvo had a solid game last season and will be a very big key for how UofL does up front as he can blow up run plays.
The player who hadn’t recorded a single statistic before coming up with a massive interception last season? He’s back and he ended up going off after the Louisville game last season. Tre’mon Moriss-Brash ended up with 10 tackles for loss and 5 sacks to go along with his interception and he is back at the Buck position which is their key pass rusher position. UofL has to account for him as he is the only returning player that consistently got to the quarterback last year.
Linebacker had a bit of a shakeup this year. Tatum Bethune is now starting at Florida State and Eriq Gilyard is at Kansas manning the middle. That leaves the Knights with Jason Johnson at one of their inside linebacker spots. Johnson was a 2-time FCS All-American at Eastern Illinois before heading to UCF. Jason John-Baptise lines up at the other spot and the veteran backer is a consistent player who makes a lot of tackles.
UCF has brought back most of their starters and depth at cornerback with both starting corners back at the top of the depth chart. Davonte Brown is the key player here after finishing last season with 13 PBUs.
At safety, Divaad Wilson returns as a very good safety who transferred in from Georgia a few years ago. Wilson can do it all as he had a very impressive diving interception last week. Quadric Bullard is also an impressive safety with solid speed and coverage ability. Both players do well to play downhill against the run even though they spend a lot of time lined up fairly deep in the secondary. These two will be a big factor in the game, in my opinion.
—Louisville is 52-32-1 all-time record in Friday night games.
—The Cardinals have won 11 of their last 16 games played on Friday nights, including last season’s 42-35 win over Central Florida.
—Since 2017, Central Florida is 31-2 in home games at FBC Mortgage Stadium. The Golden Knights posted perfect home records in 2021 (7-0), 2019 (6-0), 2018 (8-0) and 2017 (7-0). They are 1-0 at home so far in 2022.
—UCF’s all-time record of 74-22 (.771) at FBC Mortgage Stadium ranks in the top 15 in the nation for best win percentage in a current home stadium.
—Louisville has lost 10 of its last 12 games played away from Cardinal Stadium.
—Louisville is 142-105-6 all-time during the month of September, including 6-6 in the month under Scott Satterfield.
—The Cardinals are 25-36-1 all-time versus teams from the state of Florida and have won the last three games, one coming last season versus UCF. Louisville is 12-26-1 in games played in the state of Florida
—UCF has accumulated a record of 48-12 in its last 60 games. The Knights went 13-0 in 2017, 12-1 in 2018, 10-3 in 2019, 6-4 in 2020, 9-4 in the first season under head coach Gus Malzahn and are 1-0 in 2022. UCF’s 48 wins in its last 60 games trails only Alabama, Ohio State, Clemson, Notre Dame, Oklahoma, and Georgia nationally for the most victories in a program’s last 60 contests.
—Louisville is a 5.5-point underdog in this game according to DraftKings Sportsbook. The Cardinals were 1-4 straight up as underdogs 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.
—Under Scott Satterfield, Louisville is 14-2 when winning the turnover battle, and just 2-16 when losing it.
—Louisville is 6-0 under Scott Satterfield when scoring 40-49 points, and 3-0 when scoring 50 or more.
—In eight seasons as a head coach, Scott Satterfield’s teams are 57-7 when scoring 30 or more points. Louisville is 16-4 in such games under Satterfield.
—Louisville is 0-9 under Scott Satterfield when being held to 21 points or fewer.
—Louisville is 0-16 under Satterfield when trailing at the end of the 3rd quarter.
—Louisville is currently riding a consecutive game scoring streak that spans 275 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 195-14 all-time when scoring 35 or more points in a game. The Cards are also 6-121 all-time when allowing opponents to score 40 or more points.
—“This week, playing at Central Florida, it’ll be another environment that will be very challenging.” —Scott Satterfield
—“I think their defense is built on speed. They can run and a lot of the guys that played last year are back, especially in the secondary. They’re not scared to go man to man. They’ll come up in your face and play man to man defense on you. They get after it up front. And then they have a really good middle linebacker, #11, that makes a lot of good plays. They have an experienced defense that is built on speed. The other thing is that we have to be able to win in space. When you think about these one-on-one matchups, you have to get opportunities, you have to be able to win those one-on-ones. We have to be good up front, we have to be able to block the guys up front and create holes when we do run the football.” —Scott Satterfield
—“They have a slew of talent on that side of the ball. What we have to do is, do our job number one, and then when we do that, we’ll be successful. But we have to practice that way. What we’re doing in practice, we’ll have some up-tempo periods, to where we have to go really, really fast, and practice that way. If we can do that, we’ll be okay.” —Bryan Brown
—“What they showed last Saturday isn’t really who they are. We’re going to get the best version of them.” —UCF wide receiver Ryan O’Keefe
—“It will be a test for the whole defense. (Malik Cunningham), like I said, he’s one of the best quarterbacks in college football. I know that things didn’t go as well as they liked last week but he’s a phenomenal player, we know that. We saw firsthand last year, so not only the linebackers on defense, but the whole defense as well.” —UCF head coach Gus Malzahn
—“This game is going to tell us a lot about the rest of our season. They’re a really talented team.” —UCF wide receiver Ryan O’Keefe
—“That game last year was a tough deal, so this is a very important game for us. Especially from the guys that went through that experience last year.” —UCF head coach Gus Malzahn
Card Chronicle Prediction: Central Florida 38, Louisville 24