Week 7 - Southern Miss at UCF

Posted Oct 11, 2012

Week 7 Fearless Predictions - Southern Miss at UCF

Southern Miss (0-5) at UCF (3-2) Oct. 13, 8:00, CBS Sports Networks

Here’s The Deal: Not long ago, this was a matchup that would have had enormous consequences in the battle to represent the East Division in the Conference USA title game. To suggest that the situation has changed would be an understatement. The defending league champs, Southern Miss, are one of four remaining winless teams in the FBS. And UCF is still waiting to hear if its NCAA appeal for postseason eligibility in 2012 will be granted. The Knights have been able to tune out the distraction thus far, losing only to Ohio State and Mizzou, and doubling-up East Carolina last Thursday night. The Golden Eagles, to the contrary, have struggled from opening day forward, including last Saturday’s home loss to Boise State, 40-14.

Why Southern Miss Might Win: The one thing the Golden Eagles have done modestly well this season is run the football. It won’t be easy against UCF, but Southern Miss must establish the line of scrimmage by getting the ball in the hands of backs Desmond Johnson and Jeremy Hester. The quarterbacks are an athletic collection of scramblers as well. Throwing the ball with any degree of consistency appears unlikely for USM this season, so picking up decent yardage on first and second downs will be a prerequisite for success in Orlando Saturday night.

Why UCF Might Win: By Conference USA standards, the Knights are close to a complete team. The offense is balanced by the passing of Blake Bortles and the deep ground game comprised of Latavius Murray and Storm Johnson. And the D is arguably the best in the league. Southern Miss’ ongoing problems with the offensive line will only be exacerbated at Bright House Networks Stadium, as UCF turns loose ends Victor Gray and Troy Davis on the pocket. Eagles QB Ricky Lloyd will be fortunate to throw for 150 yards this weekend.

What To Watch Out For: The Knights were thrilled to get back Murray, who had missed three games with a shoulder injury. Although he only carried the ball nine times for 30 yards in the East Carolina win, he’s expected to handle a role more befitting a feature back this week. He can run, catch and block, and instantly becomes UCF’s best offensive weapon when he’s in the huddle.

What Will Happen: There’s a certain history and a soon-to-be ending rivalry between these two divisional foes that might suggest a closer-than-expected outcome. Reality says something very different. Southern Miss is just not a competent football team right now. UCF is playing with a sense of purpose, whether or not a bowl game will greet it in December. The Knights will avenge last year’s crushing one-point loss in Hattiesburg, abusing a struggling visitor in all phases of the game and for all four quarters.

CFN Prediction: UCF 38 … Southern Miss 13
ATS Consultants Line (Click for more lines and picks) UCF -17 O/U: 50
Must Watch Rating (5 – Argo, 1 – Pitch Perfect): 1.5