Week 2 AAC - UCF at FIU & More

Posted Sep 6, 2013

Week 2 AAC Fearless Predictions - UCF at FIU & More

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UCF (1-0) at Florida International (0-1) Sept. 6, 8:00, CBS Sports Network

Why You Should Give A Hoot: UCF and Florida International renew their budding Sunshine State rivalry, which has seen the programs split the last two meetings. The Golden Panthers joined Conference USA just as the Knights were hightailing it to the American, making this a non-conference game for both. While UCF pummeled Akron, 38-7, in Week 1, FIU was being outclassed by Maryland on the road, 43-10.
Why UCF Might Win: The Golden Panthers had no answers for Terps QB C.J. Brown. They'll struggle just as much to contain the balanced Knights offense led by QB Blake Bortles, RB Storm Johnson and a bevy of capable receivers. In a year when FIU's top weapon, RB Kedrick Rhodes, was dismissed, it won't have the pop to hang with UCF.
Why Florida International Might Win: The Panthers won't stop the Knights cold, but they do possess the speed and range to create game-changing stops and turnovers. CB Sam Miller, LB Mike Wakefield and tackles Isame Faciane and Greg Hickman, in particular, are playmakers capable of sparking the home crowd.
Who To Watch Out For: Veteran Jake Medlock had all kinds of problems, eventually getting replaced by E.J. Hilliard. Life for the FIU quarterbacks gets no easier this week against the speed of UCF.

- Bortles is a big-time hurler, the kind that generates interest from NFL scouts. He'll spread the ball around to Breshad Perriman, J.J. Worton and Rannell Hall.

- Seven new starters is seemingly no problem for the UCF D. LB Terrance Plummer was everywhere last Thursday, and DE Thomas Niles lived in the backfield.
What Will Happen: Facing rivals on the road is always dicey, but UCF will survive on the strength of its superior talent. Florida International is inept on offense, and its defense will come up short in the attempt to trip up Bortles and Johnson. The Knights will get to 2-0 without a lot of resistance.
Prediction: UCF 44 … Florida International 13
Line: UCF -24.5 o/u: 54
Must See Rating: (5 Olbermann - 1 Total Divas) … 1.5

Eastern Kentucky (1-0) at Louisville (1-0) Sept. 7, 12:00, ESPN3

Why You Should Give A Hoot: No. 9 Louisville was in midseason form in its opening day, 49-7 blowout of a decent Ohio team. Razor-sharp on both sides of the ball, the Cardinals performed on Sunday afternoon like a team that knows its soft schedule is going to require style points throughout the year. Eastern Kentucky kicked off its quest for an Ohio Valley Conference title run with its blowout, easily handling Robert Morris, 38-6.
Why Eastern Kentucky Might Win: While the offense adjusts to the graduation of star RB Matt Denham, a surly Colonels D will lead the way. A year after pacing the conference in rushing and scoring defense, EKU yielded just 232 yards in its Week 1 cakewalk.
Why Louisville Might Win: Everyone is aware of QB Teddy Bridgewater, who began the season with as many touchdown passes (5) as incompletions. However, the Cards are also deep at running back and wide receiver. They're too deep, in fact, for an Eastern Kentucky squad unaccustomed to facing so many weapons on the same afternoon.
Who To Watch Out For: Start getting to know Louisville WR Kai De La Cruz. The maturing junior ignited a quiet career up to this point by catching a career-high four balls for 116 yards and two scores in the opener.

- Louisville still needs to work on its pass rush, which fizzled in 2012. The Cards had just one sack against the Bobcats last week.

- Preston Brown and James Burgess are the leaders of a linebacker corps that did a marvelous job of containing RB Beau Blankenship and the rest of Ohio on Sunday.
What Will Happen: If the opener is any indication, Louisville is focused and crisp following a terrific fall camp. The Cardinals will maintain their edge and execution in another demolition, coasting before getting ready to travel to rival Kentucky.
Prediction: Louisville 59 … Eastern Kentucky 10
Line: Louisville -40 o/u: 55
Must See Rating: (5 Olbermann - 1 Total Divas) … 1.5

South Florida (0-1) at Michigan State (1-0) Sept. 7, 12:00, ESPN2

Why You Should Give A Hoot: South Florida and Michigan State meet for the first time in a game unlikely to produce an abundance of style points. While the Spartans defeated Western Michigan on Friday night, it was the ugly variety that produced more question marks than causes for attaboys. In a virtual copy of a year ago, Michigan State used a salty defense, in lieu of offensive consistency, to put away an opponent. Of course, things could have gone far worse. Just ask the Bulls, which reached a program low in head coach Willie Taggart's first game, bowing meekly to McNeese State of the FCS. How bad did things get for South Florida? The 53 points scored by the Cowboys were the most by a visitor to Raymond James Stadium, and the most ever by an FCS squad against an FBS team. Traveling to East Lansing ensures no rest for the weary.
Why South Florida Might Win: No, it didn't show in the opener, but the cupboard isn't empty on defense for the Bulls. South Florida is especially stout in the front seven with the presences of LB DeDe Lattimore and linemen Ryne Giddins, Luke Sager and Notre Dame transfer Aaron Lynch. The Bulls will be facing a perennially feeble Michigan State offense that just got done slogging its way to just 297 yards and 26 points in the lackluster effort against Western Michigan.
Why Michigan State Might Win: The Bulls have defensive potential. The Spartans have already realized their potential. East Lansing is home to arguably the Big Ten's toughest D, a suppressive unit that can dictate the tempo of the game with LB Max Bullough, DE Marcus Rush and CB Darqueze Dennard. While RB Marcus Shaw showed some flash on the ground in the opener, South Florida does not possess the consistency up front or in the passing game to keep drives alive in the face of the Michigan State defense.
Who To Watch Out For: Who gets the ball from Spartan head coach Mark Dantonio, Andrew Maxwell or Connor Cook? There were too many drops from the receivers, but one of the quarterbacks has to step up and play with more consistency.

- USF has its own issues under center. Matt Floyd started, yet was ineffective, and could be in jeopardy of losing his grip on the top spot to Bobby Eveld.

- With all of the problems Michigan State is facing in the passing game, RB Jeremy Langford will need to shoulder a bigger load of the offense on Saturday. He was workmanlike in his first start, running for 94 yards and a touchdown on 20 carries.

- Bulls head coach Willie Taggart took a lot of justifiable criticism for his team's opening night implosion. Don't panic. The coach will be just fine, given the time to build a program.
What Will Happen: This could be one of the uglier games of Week 2 involving teams from BCS conferences. Not only does neither team execute on offense, but that Michigan State D is liable to turn South Florida into a bumbling. The Spartans will again be bailed out by Pat Narduzzi opportunistic defense, producing the sacks and turnovers needed to keep the Bulls from locating a pulse.
Prediction: Michigan State 29 … South Florida 9
Line: Michigan State -23.5 – O/U: 43.5
Must See Rating: (5 Olbermann - 1 Total Divas) … 2.5

Norfolk State (0-1) at Rutgers (0-1) Sept. 7, 12:00

Why You Should Give A Hoot: The Scarlet Knights participated in one of the thrilling Week 1 games, falling in overtime, 52-51, to Fresno State on a failed two-point conversion. There was no shortage of positives and negatives for the coaching staff to process as it prepared for a much-needed visit from Norfolk State. The Spartans of the MEAC opened their season with a lackluster 23-6 home loss to Maine.
Why Norfolk State Might Win: The Rutgers D is every bit as sketchy and inconsistent as the program feared. No, the Spartans can't match Fresno State's weapons, but they will attempt to play ball-control with RB Rolandan Finch, a transfer from Boston College.
Why Rutgers Might Win: Too many weapons for the Norfolk State defense. The silver lining in the loss to the Bulldogs is that the offense racked up 543 yards. QB Gary Nova, who threw five touchdown passes, will remain hot, with lots of help from the pass-catching tandem of Brandon Coleman and Leonte Carroo.
Who To Watch Out For: Carroo enjoyed a breakout opener for the Knights. So, too, did RB Paul James, who entered the game with five career carries, yet rumbled for 182 yards.

- Rutgers needs to start getting its act together on D. It'll help if veteran DE Jamil Merrell, who was in street clothes in the opener, is able to go this weekend.
What Will Happen: Rutgers has dwelled enough about its gut-wrenching loss last Thursday. It's time to move on, beginning with a quick and effortless rout of Norfolk State that pads numbers and gets backups in the game in the third quarter.
Prediction: Rutgers 50 … Norfolk State 3
Line: Rutgers -27.5
Must See Rating: (5 Olbermann - 1 Total Divas) … 1