Week 5 – Missouri at UCF

Posted Sep 27, 2012

Week 5 CFN Fearless Prediction & Game Preview – Missouri at UCF

Missouri (2-2) at UCF (2-1) Sept. 29, 12:00, FSN

Here's The Deal: Not only has Mizzou never faced UCF, but it hasn't even played a game in the state of Florida since 1988. Of course, the landscape is changing now that the team shares a division with a team located in Gainesville, Fla. The Tigers have had a rude welcome to the SEC in their inaugural season, losing to Georgia in Week 2 before getting crushed by South Carolina last Saturday. They have this week to get things turned around before returning to the rigors that come with being a member of the game's toughest conference. The Knights have officially appealed their bowl ban by the NCAA, which means they still could be eligible for a spot in the postseason. The program has handled weaker foes, like Akron and Florida International so far, while hanging tough in a 31-16 loss at Ohio State on Sept. 8.

Why Missouri Might Win: Yeah, the Missouri defense lost its way in Columbia last week, but it figures to bounce back this week against a less potent UCF attack. The Tigers will be superior at the point of attack, pressing an average Knights O-line with DT Sheldon Richardson and ends Brad Madison, Kony Ealy and Michael Sam. The D will also bottle up RB Storm Johnson with linebackers Will Ebner and Andrew Wilson, who has already forced four fumbles. In the one game versus a quality defense, UCF QB Blake Bortles had three picks and engineered just two scoring drives.

Why UCF Might Win: As is often the case, Orlando is home to a pretty good defense, one of the best in Conference USA in fact. The Knights are an athletic, seasoned bunch led by S Kemal Ishmael, LB Terrance Plummer and DE Troy Davis. They're giving up just 21 points a game, and will be facing a Missouri offense that has really struggled over the last three games. QB James Franklin hasn't been himself, and the production of RB Kendial Lawrence and receivers Marcus Lucas and T.J. Moe has slipped accordingly. When the Mizzou offense is sputtering, this isn't the same program that was once so dangerous in the Big 12.

What To Watch Out For: Franklin has been tentative. He's admitted it. He's also stated that he needs to elevate his game to last year's level, but an offseason labrum injury has left him a little skittish in the first month of the season. Can he do an about-face at BrightHouse Networks Stadium a week after accounting for just 98 total yards? Probably not, but he's a much better player than what's been shown during the first four games of 2012.

What Will Happen: Missouri is an incomplete product right now, to be sure, and doesn't quite look SEC-ready. However, it still has enough weapons, both on offense and defense, to get out of Florida with a much-needed, hard-fought win. Franklin and the offense will still be a little off, but the Tigers defense will flex its muscles and pick up some of the slack. Mizzou will keep Bortles in check, closing the door on a comeback bid in the final quarter.

CFN Prediction: Missouri 27 … UCF 20
ATS Consultants Line (Click for more lines and picks) UCF -3 O/U: 48.5
Must Watch Rating (5 – Ryder Cup 2012, 1 – SNL Thursday Weekend Update): 2.5