Game-By-Game Predictions for UCF's 2014 Season
Not me, although I did have Central Florida winning 10 games, and I’ll take partial credit for that.
Now entering his 11th season with the Knights, coach George O’Leary has finally put together a sustainable foundation. His teams have notoriously been up and down, regressing significantly after a successful year – but with plenty of depth and an experienced defense, UCF shouldn’t be falling backwards.
Making another big-time bowl appearance or sneaking into the first College Football Playoff are lofty expectations, but repeating as conference champions is very possible.
Let’s break down Central Florida’s 2014 schedule and its chances at another huge run:
8/30 – vs. Penn State (Dublin, Ireland): LOSS
Blake Bortles wasn’t everything, but he was the undisputed leader of an offense that ranked No. 12 in the country in team passing efficiency. Justin Holmon can step in and be good enough to win games, but starting his career off against a much-improved Penn State secondary in Ireland isn’t ideal.
9/13 – at Missouri: LOSS
Last season, Central Florida came oh so close to taking out SEC power South Carolina on the road. Now it has to see a Missouri team that faces turnover, but doesn’t lack talent. I expect a similar result, as Markus Golden and a deadly Tiger pass rush get through a UCF offensive line that replaces two first-team All-AAC linemen, and one second-teamer.
9/20 – vs. Bethune-Cookman: WIN
Bethune-Cookman won’t lie down without a fight; the Wildcats whooped up on FIU last season and stayed competitive against Florida State for a quarter (not many FBS teams can say that). But in the end, UCF’s dominant defense and speed at offensive skill positions will be far too overwhelming.
10/2 – at Houston: WIN
I’m not trying to start a fight with anyone here, but Houston was incredibly lucky to stay within five points to UCF in 2013. If the Cougars can somehow replicate the timely stops they had and find more success in the red zone, they’ll have a much better chance to win – but until then, I’m sticking with the Knights’ defense.
10/9 – vs. BYU: WIN
Holmon and a star-studded wide receiver corps should have developed a strong chemistry by now, and this would be an excellent time to breakthrough. BYU will boast a strong secondary, but could lack strength up the middle with major departures, putting pressure on the back end of the defense.
10/18 – vs. Tulane: WIN
Tulane faces some turnover at key positions and is a few years behind UCF in terms of building depth. The Green Wave will pose as a threat, but should fall off by the third or fourth quarter.
10/25 – vs. Temple: WIN
True freshman quarterback P.J. Walker went off on Central Florida’s secondary last season, going for 382 yards and four touchdowns through the air. That same group – including All-AAC selections Jacoby Glenn and Clayton Geathers – will make sure that doesn’t happen again.
11/1 – at Connecticut: WIN
Expect UCF’s fast and athletic defense to fly to the ball and force plenty of turnovers for this inept UConn offense.
11/14 – vs. Tulsa: WIN
As I said earlier in the Tulsa prediction, UCF should be walking off this field with a win and a goose egg on the opposition’s side of the scoreboard.
11/22 – vs. SMU: WIN
Expect an upperclassman-filled front seven to disrupt the backfield and force multiple interceptions on a rattled Neal Burcham.
11/28 – at South Florida: WIN
Surprisingly enough, USF actually gave the Knights quite a scare before folding in the closing minutes of the fourth quarter. But come on, do we really expect it to be that close again?
12/4 – at East Carolina: LOSS
Finally, what we’ve all been waiting for; a meaningful AAC showdown that could potentially decide the conference winner in the season finale. Did I mention that it’s on Thursday night and broadcasted on ESPN? The stakes could be very high, but I’m rolling with East Carolina and its ability to rack up yardage and spread the field vertically. However, if UCF can overpower the Pirates in the trenches and turn Shane Carden into bad Shane Carden, then it could spell victory and a possible repeat as AAC champion.
2014 Central Florida Projected Record: 9-3 (7-1)
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