Vitals: Tulsa Golden Hurricane at UCF Knights
Grant Belcher, NewsOn6.com
Tulsa Golden Hurricane (5-3, 4-0 Conference USA) at Central Florida Knights (4-4, 2-2)
Thursday, Nov. 3, 7:03 p.m. CST
Bright House Networks Stadium, Orlando, Fla.
|Passing||G.J. Kinne |
151-235, 1895 yds, 16 TD
|Jeff Godfrey |
123-180, 1451 yds, 3 TD
|Ja'Terian Douglas |
74 rush, 525 yds, 3 TD
|Brynn Harvey |
116 rush, 544 yds, 3 TD
|Receiving||Willie Carter |
49 rec, 702 yds, 5 TD
|Joshua Reese |
21 rec, 324 yds, 1 TD
Where to look for it
TV: CBS Sports Network (Todd Harris and Doug Chapman)
Radio: KRMG 740 AM/FM 102.3 (Bruce Howard, Rick Couri, Chris Kaiser)
Tulsa: WR Thomas Roberson (undisclosed, questionable) DB John Flanders, DT Darell Zellars (academics, out for season) WR Damaris Johnson (suspended indefinitely)
UCF: WR Khymest Williams (arm, questionable) QB Rob Calabrese (knee, out for season)
What you need to know
Mid-week games are always tricky, and they can greatly disrupt normal game-week routines. Though there isn't any real statistical analysis to back it up, mid-week games tend to favor the home teams. Tulsa must travel TO Orlando during the week, making a short week of preparation even trickier. And it's not as if the Golden Hurricane is simply making a short trip down to Dallas or North Texas. Instead, they will have to travel nearly 1,000 miles to arrive for the game in Orlando. Meanwhile, Central Florida is coming off of a home game last week as well (a win against Memphis), and will have a bigger comfort zone as far as game week prep than the visiting Golden Hurricane.
Tulsa will be out to prove that size isn't everything when it comes to the enrollment of a university. Thursday's game pits the smallest FBS school in the country against the second largest. At 56,235, Central Florida's enrollment is more than 13 times that of Tulsa's 4,194. Only Arizona State has a bigger enrollment than UCF with 58,731.
Though Central Florida is just 4-4 overall and 2-2 in Conference USA play this season, their recent history has been one of success. The Knights won the C-USA Championship in both 2007 and 2010, beating the Golden Hurricane for the title in 2007.
Who to watch
Central Florida is one of the most well-rounded teams in the country, in that no individual player has any jaw-dropping statistics. However, combine the entire defensive unit and you've got the No. 3 defense in the country in terms of total defense, allowing just 245 yards per game. Though the competition isn't quite on the same level, the Knights are still allowing fewer yards per game than big time schools such as No. 1 LSU. Only Alabama and Michigan State allow fewer yards per game than the Knights. The more impressive part is how relatively high UCF's strength of schedule stands. The Knights have had the 61st-toughest schedule so far this year (Alabama is 39th, for reference). So no matter the conference, it's still hard to ignore what UCF has done defensively this year, landing in the top FIVE nationally in rushing defense, passing defense, scoring defense and total defense.
Tulsa senior cornerback Milton Howell wasn't even a defensive player when he got to college. But last week, Howell picked off three passes in a single game, earning him C-USA Defensive Player of the Week honors. He also had three tackles, including one for loss, and a pass breakup. The last time a Tulsa player had three interceptions in a game was not that long ago, however, as current defensive back Marco Nelson did it last season at Houston.
Meanwhile, TU receiver Willie Carter has quickly become G.J. Kinne's go-to-guy. The past two games, he has combined for 22 catches, 333 receiving yards and two touchdowns. Carter, Kinne and the rest of the Tulsa offense will get a tough test against C-USA's best defense.