Week 12 - UCF at Tulsa

Posted Nov 16, 2012

Week 12 Fearless Prediction & Game Preview – UCF at Tulsa

UCF (8-2) at Tulsa (8-2) Nov. 17, 12:00, FSN

Here's The Deal:UCF and Tulsa are set to meet at Chapman Stadium in what should be an audition for the Conference USA championship game.

Both the Knights and the Golden Hurricane lead their divisions, and have yet to lose a conference game this season. With a UCF win—or an East Carolina loss—the Knights will capture the East. And with a Tulsa win—or an SMU loss—the Golden Hurricane will take the West. The two schools have been on a collision course all season, rolling through the league once tough non-conference schedules were concluded.

Since Conference USA does not stage its league title game at a neutral site, this Saturday afternoon's meeting will be for more than just punching a ticket for a spot on the fight card. It'll also be for home field advantage in the event the two schools meet again in two weeks.

Why UCF Might Win: Defense wins championships, and no D in the league plays with more consistency than the one from Orlando.

The Knights will make sure that Tulsa is one-dimensional this weekend. They've only allowed eight touchdown passes all season, and Hurricane QB Cody Green is very erratic through the air. UCF will feel comfortable pressing up LB Jonathan Davis and safeties Kemal Ishmael and Clayton Geathers in order to stop the Tulsa ground game. On offense, the Knights will continue to ride the shoulders of RB Latavius Murray. Since returning from an injury, the senior with the surging draft grade has rushed for 620 yards and eight scores in the last four games.

Why Tulsa Might Win: The Golden Hurricane may be allowing a few more yards and points this season, but no one in Conference USA has been more disruptive from the defensive side of the ball.

Tulsa has 23 takeaways, and ranks No. 3 nationally in sacks and tackles for loss. Heck, it's also No. 5 in the country in sacks allowed, testament to the work being at the line of scrimmage. The Hurricane and defensive coordinator Brent Guy like to press the action from any and all angles, getting plays for minus yards from linemen Jared St. John, Cory Dorris and Daeshon Bufford, and linebackers DeAundre Brown and Shawn Jackson.

What To Watch Out For: Which of the backs will crack 100 yards this week? Can any back crack 100 yards this week?

yeah, Murray is a next-level player, but Tulsa leads Conference USA against the run, and gives up just three yards a carry. And while the Hurricane's three-headed ground game of Ja'Terian Douglas, Trey Watts and Alex Singleton have produced monster numbers this season, UCF can be very tough in the front seven. Neither team wants to leave this game up to the quarterback, Tulsa's Green or UCF's Blake Bortles, so the ground games will dictate who wins on Saturday.

What Will Happen: Conference USA bragging rights will be on the line, with a sequel possibly in the offing two weeks from now.

By league standards, this is a huge game for UCF and Tulsa, as both seek a division crown and more national attention. The teams will arrive with similar strategies—run the ball with success on first and second downs, and create maximum havoc on defense. The Hurricane is just slightly better equipped to succeed at both pursuits. While Murray is outstanding, he's just one guy compared to the depth of Tulsa. And he'll be running against a defense that's been consistently tough to navigate. Round 1 goes to the Hurricane in a game that'll be nip-and-tuck throughout.

CFN Prediction: Tulsa 28 … UCF 26
Consultants Line (Click for more lines and picks) Tulsa -1.5 O/U: 56
Must Watch Rating (5 – Killing Them Softly, 1 – The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn Part 2): 2.5