Cincinnati Bearcats Opponent Preview: UCF Knights


UCF Matchup preview

Well, well, well, Mr. Gus Malzahn, welcome to the AAC. The ride down hopes the transition from the Southeastern Conference treats you well.

What you can expect are new faces, unknown teams and, above all, an annual date with him Cincinnati bear cats.

It is a struggle for supremacy in the conference. One last chance to impress the College Football Playoff Committee. Your ticket to earn the respect of ten other teams within American Athletic.

And while Auburn has certainly participated in some great games and rivalries over the years, you will find that this match is not going to be a piece of cake, Mr. Malzahn.

Series history

Ironically, the series story doesn’t bring much in between Cincinnati and Gus Malzahn’s new team. The Bearcats and Knights played for the 2015 First Time in their college football background. Since then, they have swapped punches five times, with the overall head-to-head record stalling at three apiece.

UCF garnered a number of triumphs from 2016 to 2018; However, the Bearcats currently hold a winning streak of two in the series.

UCF 2020 season in review

Cincinnati’s top conference rivals produced arguably their worst season since the first (and only) losing season of the Scott Frost era. The Knights, which opened up as the usual fringe program of the Top 25, stalled in a trio of close matches during the main course of the season.

First there was a 26-34 loss to Tulsa, followed by violent disappointments against Memphis (49-50) and Cincinnati (33-36). Then came her only defeat with multiple possessions against a single defeat BYU (23-49) in the Boca Raton Bowl, who certified their place outside the top 25.

UCF (attack)

We try to avoid hyping our rivals on here The ride downbut man oh man last year UCF’s offense was damn good. Malzahn takes control of a squad that averaged a whopping 568 yards (2nd highest in the CFB) and 42 points (eight highest) per game.

The knights are done Second overall on the team offensive thanks to quarterback Dillon Gabriel, who threw a total of 570 yards and 32 touchdowns in 2020. He’s returning to the offensive along with seven other starters from last year – including all five guys on the line.

The experienced recipient core of the team seems to represent the transfer center. Five of the eight names on the depth map (Brandon Johnson, Jaylon Robinson, Dionte Marks, Jordan Johnson, and Nate Craig-Myers) identified themselves as members of another school at some point in their college careers.

Only the running game raises few questions, with the main talent spinning around a number of backs in their second seasons. Johnny Richardson will qualify as a leader – he counted 11 carries for 65 yards and a TD – though RJ Harvey and Mark-Anthony Richards should get a few carries here and there as well.

Notable Departures: QB McKenzie Milton, RB Greg McCrae, RB Otis Anderson and RB Bentavious Thompson

UCF (defense)

A top 3 offensive and a 6-4 record? It’s one way to know that you have a lot (and we mean a lot) of problems elsewhere.

In contrast to their secondary offense, UCF finished with 123 in all team defense.

(Gee UCF, Gus Malzahn should be the next Lincoln Riley with a team like this.)

The Knights were utterly miserable when it came down to it, averaging 500 yards and 33 points per game.

Oh, and the penalties were worse. UCF broke the rules 92 Opportunities (126th in the FBS) during the season.

The good news? Most of their starters – nine – are back. They’re getting support from former Auburn Tiger and Malzahn product, Big Kat Bryant on the line, someone supposed to help a grieving pass rush.

Notable exits: DT Kenny Tournament, DE Randy Charlton and S Richie Grant


The most important and equal-sided game in the history of Cincinnati-UCF closes on October 16th. Cincinnati-UCF. The bearcats against the knights. Desmond Ridder versus Dillon Gabriel. Luke Fickell versus Gus Malzahn.

The difference? The 40,000 or so Nippert Faithful are booming in the stands.

Forecast: 34-21

UCF 2020 season preview

A challenging game list for the UCF knight from start to finish? Is the sky falling or something?

(No, this has been the case for a while. The College Football Playoff Committee just doesn’t see it.)

Malzahn and Co. will endure consecutive skirmishes against Cincinnati and Memphis as well as some trap games State of Boise, Louisville and SMU.

The overall plan seems intimidating, but after all, it is those words that it deals with every year. A few worthy opponents here and there won’t stop him from his preseason goals.

Opponent Ranking: 1st Cincinnati, 2nd @ SMU, 3rd Boise State, 4th Memphis, 5th Lousiville, 6th Tulane 7th East Carolina, 8th @ Navy, 9th @ Temple, 10th USF, 11. Connecticut, 12. Bethune-Cookman

Final prediction: 11-1, appearance in AAC Championship Game