I will have a pile of firsts here. Ryan approached me to do a college version of Know Your Enemy. The problem is I don’t really know my team. I’ve watched Missouri lose, painfully, their first two SEC matchups, and I still don’t know most of the players’ names. Maybe I’m focusing on the monstrosity that is the new Nike look and feel. This Saturday’s game will be Missouri’s first football game played in Florida, well, ever. I looked back and their only matchup with a school from Florida was playing the University of Florida in the 1966 Sugar Bowl. Missouri’s about to play two games in Florida in the next five weeks.
I know little about Central Florida. Heck, I had to do a little research to find out that the program is joining the Big East next year. They might want to go with Medium East. UCF’s program started in 1979, made the Division II playoffs in 1987, the I-AA playoffs in 1990 and 1993 and “broke through” with a 9-2 record in 1998, led by one Daunte Culpepper. Two years ago the school went 11-3 and won the Liberty Bowl, beating Georgia. That’s something Missouri fans can respect.
Central Florida is favored by 2.5 points.
Let’s get to the questions and Ryan will tell you all about his bad self at the end.
Are you excited about UCF heading to the sinking ship that is the Big East next year? First of all, it’s incredibly ironic that UCF is leaving a non-geographically-limiting league named “Conference USA” to go to a region-specific one called the “Big East” when, in fact, the teams in the latter of the conferences will be much more geographically diverse. That was just a really long sentence to avoid the question because it’s still mildly depressing.
But as long as the “Big Least” can retain its automatic BCS Bowl Bid status, I am excited that UCF will be eligible each year. Even if it doesn’t, it’s still a step up from playing in stadiums with 486 people on a Wednesday night road game against UAB that the schools only agreed to because it’s all the national TV time they were offered.
Do you know how Missouri got in the SEC yet agreed to a road game against the Knights? Lest you forget who the omniscient folks in the Nevada desert favor in this game. Seriously, though, I don’t know how UCF got Missouri to come. This will be the first time ever that UCF has hosted an SEC team.
Admit it, you chose UCF because of their Steeler-like colors. What happens to them when Nike gets their dirty paws on their jerseys? Actually, Nike already has the jerseys – and have since 2010. The one positive thing I’ll say about Head Coach George O’Leary’s old, crotchety ways is that he has most likely given input on not bastardizing the jerseys.
How do the Knights put points on the board against the Tigers? UCF has a prototypical NFL-size QB in Blake Bortles (who is 6’4” and 221 lbs) with a pretty live arm. Only a sophomore, though, he can struggle with decision-making and often stares down his reads. The Knights are run-heavy, with three running backs of being 1,200 yard rushers if they were “the guy” on the team.
Much like any small conference team facing a big conference team, UCF will have to win the turnover and field position battles, along with potentially hitting a trick play or two. The Knights are very capable of doing that as two of their wide receivers are converted quarterbacks who have started at least ten games at QB during their UCF careers. Friends and I have joked that UCF may be the only team in the nation who can feature 3-1-1 and 3-0-2 personnel groups.
Who’s the player that UCF is most worried about on Missouri’s offense? Due respect to super-stud Dorial Green-Beckham, UCF has to be most concerned with James Franklin. Outside of a 2010 battle with Russell Wilson (then at NC State) where they held the current Seahawks starter to 10-30, 105 yards, 1 TD, and just 35 rushing yards, it seems that UCF has struggled with dual-threat QBs since I enrolled there in 2002. Franklin has a chance to make some big plays and the skills to make some back-breaking ones (I can see at least two 3rd-and-long conversions via his legs).
How did UCF end up on probation? They seem SEC-ready in that regard. Both the football and basketball programs were investigated and found to be associating with runners for sports agents and making cash payments to recruits. This came after the football program got their proverbial “slap on the wrist” for placing impermissible calls to recruits from 2007 to 2009.
Despite the current one-year postseason ban, UCF was not, in fact, “SEC-ready.” Out of the 11 recruits – football and basketball –involved in the investigation, only one (a former basketball player) ever played a game at UCF. The joke is that UCF isn’t even good at cheating.
Are you going to the game, and if so, what’s the pregame beer of choice? I go to every home game, so I’ll be there. Since the game’s at noon, I’ll probably go with vodka instead of whisky. Oh, you said beer? See, I’m already too excited.
Feel free to give some plugs for your site, your work with FBG, and any exciting stuff happening in the world of Ryan. I co-author a weekly article with long-time FBG Staffer Jeff Haseley called “Inside the Insider,” where we highlight two or three weekly-updated features per week. [Zach note: Yes, the article is behind the FBG paywall. You want to be behind that paywall, you need to be behind that paywall. Quality stuff.] It’s crazy just how much FBG has to offer. Outside of that, I still do Game Recaps under the guidance of the ever-present Sigmund Bloom. I will recap nearly every Steelers game this season, though that may be a depressing venture.
As for my own stuff on footballandbrackets.com, I’m making my best effort to deliver three weekly posts of fantasy goodness:
– Fantasy “FML” – where I discuss lineup decisions gone wrong from the previous week
– FLEX-ing Your Muscles – where I highlight some of the tougher flex play decisions of the week
– Fantasy F.A.S.T. – just debuted this week, it stands for Facts, Analysis, Statistics, and Thoughts; it’s my own little way of spewing out the random tidbits that I come across each week
I’m also involved in a College Football contest against friends where seven Saturday games are picked Against the Spread. I use a combination of per-play stats and gambling market contrarianism to make my picks, which are made every Friday and posted to the blog as a means of tracking my record. So if you want to make some money, look for it.
(After placing second last year, I’m currently fourth.)
Tease Alert: Homerism aside, UCF -2.5 is very likely to be on my list this week because I believe they’ll fall into the “system.”
Thanks Ryan. I’ll be slightly less depressed if Missouri loses this weekend because I know it will bring you so much joy. Follow Ryan on Twitter and get thee to Football Guys and read his stuff. You’ll be happy you did.