Keys to the Game: UCF vs. SMU

SMU gets a visit from a potential New Years Six Bowl invitee Central Florida. A few keys for the Mustangs afternoon. 

Central Florida Executes Their Plan

Central Florida brings a finely oiled offensive machine to the Hilltop on Saturday night. The Knights are fifth in total offense among FBS schools; they live in a rarified neighborhood among Oklahoma, Oklahoma State, and Louisville. Four spots ahead of SMU, who isn't an offensive slouch in their own right. The Knights can beat you by land or by air, but they'd rather pound you with the rush game, it's the pivot point. No UCF opponent's held the Knights to less than 400 yards of total offense, that list of opponents includes some decent squads Maryland, Memphis, and Navy. All that offense results in 51 points a game, the best points per game output in football. 

McKenzie Milton 4 Heisman

The Golden Knights boast one of the best quarterbacks in college football. Why McKenzie Milton isn't getting more Heisman run probably says more about inherent bias than his abilities. Milton leads the nation in quarterback efficiency, completion percentage, and yards per completion. The sophomore hasn't played in the fourth quarter in four of the Knights seven games. 

The Best Defense is a Good Offense

So that's the reality of the situation, the Mustangs have to deal with reality, and that involves keeping UCF and their 51 points a game off the field. That particular strategy seems counterintuitive to the Mustangs. SMU can't get into the veritable pissing contest with a skunk. Others have tried it and failed. Navy looked the most ready built to slow down UCF's offense, and they did get within ten. If SMU can possess the football and keep McKenzie Milton and the Golden Knight's attack on the sideline, the Mustangs might stand a change. A win over UCF would be the biggest in Chad Morris' tenure. 

An Improved Ben Hicks

Ben Hicks has been on fire the past four games, completing 69% of his passes for over 1,300 yards with nine touchdowns to just three interceptions. Those four games are a marked improvement over the previous four games when Hicks completion percentage was under 50%, and he threw for almost a hundred yards less per game. If SMU has any hope of beating UCF on Saturday, an improved, efficient Ben Hicks will hold the key. 

News and Notes

Saturday marks the eight meeting between the Knights and Ponies, UCF hold a 6-1 advantage. 

UCF coach Scott Frost inherited a winless UCF program and in two seasons he's led the Knights to a  bowl game and a 7-0 start. 

The Black Knights are one of five remaining undefeated teams. 

Black Knight quarterback McKenzie Milton leads the nation in quarterback efficiency, completion percentage, and yards per completion. 

UCF has scored 50 or more points in four games and 60 or more in three contests. 

SMU's Justin Lawler is tied for seventh in the NCAA with 7.5 sacks. 

SMU averages 41.5 points per game, ninth nationally. 

The Mustangs have blocked the second most kicks in the FBS since 2009. 

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Posted on November 2, 2017 and filed under Southwest Round-Up, SMU.