Week 11 - UCF at Houston

Posted Nov 6, 2013

Week 11 Fearless Prediction & Preview - UCF at Houston

Houston (7-1) at UCF (6-1) Nov. 9, 7:00, ESPN2

Why You Should Give A Hoot: The lead in the American will be at stake when Houston travels to Orlando on Sunday night.

The Cougars and the Knights are the last two teams in the conference without a league loss, meaning the winner will have the inside track on a BCS bowl game by Sunday morning. UCF became the American flag-bearer when it stunned Louisville on the road on Oct. 18. Plus, its only loss of 2013 came against South Carolina. The Knights have climbed to No. 19 in the AP, their highest ranking in program history. Is Houston for real? The record looks great, but the Cougars' best was against Rutgers. The program has an opportunity to amass some much-needed national respect and notoriety if it can deliver the upset this weekend.

Why Houston Might Win: The Cougars possess the speed and the big-play capability on both sides of the ball to stun the Knights this weekend. Houston averages 320 yards a game through the air, as rookie QB John O'Korn has become more and more proficient as his first season has unfolded. In WR Deontay Greenberry, he has access to the kind of gamebreaker who can quiet a crowd with one burst through the middle of the field. The Cougar D leads the country with 29 takeaways, flying from sideline-to-sideline to strip the ball and generally create havoc.

Why UCF Might Win: The opportunistic Houston defense will bend. Knight QB Blake Bortles wants to make it break. The Cougars are beatable on D. Witness the 47-46 loss to BYU and even last week's struggle with futile South Florida. Bortles is by far the most complete quarterback that Houston has faced this season. The junior has thrown 15 touchdown passes to just four picks, and he has access to a deep corps of receivers headed by Breshad Perriman and Rannell Hall. The UCF defense is stout, especially on first downs, which will ratchet up the pressure on O'Korn to come through in the clutch.

Who To Watch Out For: Which back will do a better job of providing offensive balance, UCF's Storm Johnson or Houston's Ryan Jackson? Johnson is a terrific all-around back, but Jackson has also shown his worth as a runner and a receiver this season.

- Derrick Mathews is listed as a middle linebacker, but he's technically a guided missile on the Houston defense. He's the cover boy of a corps of linebackers that closes quickly and rarely misses tackles in the open field.

- UCF has its own version of Mathews in the middle, LB Terrance Plummer. The 6-1, 234-pound leader has tremendous instincts, leading the Knights with 60 tackles, seven stops for loss, two sacks, two picks and two forced fumbles.

What Will Happen: Good start to 2013, Houston, but not this good. UCF has the better quarterback, the tougher all-around D and the home crowd to provide pick-me-ups when needed. The Knights are the more complete team, which will offset the speed and explosiveness of the Cougars. With wins over Louisville and Houston, UCF will be well on its way to its first-ever BCS bowl berth.

Prediction: UCF 36 … Houston 28
Line: UCF -10.5 o/u: 65
Must See Rating: (5 The Wolf of Wall Street – 1 Ass Backwards) … 3
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