UCF Knights 2021 College Football Preview
Created July 31, 2021
Record – 6-4
ATS – 3-7
It appeared as though things would roll along as per usual when the Knights started out 2-0 whilst putting up a HUNDO (Georgia Tech, East Carolina). Tulsa was able to SHOCK THE WORLD the next week and take down UCF as 20+ point underdogs, and Memphis won a 50-49 thriller in game number four. The season ended on a sour note when they were routed by BYU in the Boca Raton Bowl. Let’s see what new HC Gus Malzahn has to work with in 2021.
UCF Knights 2021 Outlook
The offense was still DEVASTATING LY as they finished #2 (!) in the FBS in total offense (568 YPG) and averaged over 40 PPG (42.2) for the fourth consecutive season. QB Dillon Gabriel is one of the best in college football and did all he could in 2020 (60%, 3570, 32-4 TD to INT). Gabriel has a sparkling 61-11 TD to INT ratio since 2019, but he’ll be without two yuuuuge weapons in WR Marlon Williams and WR Jacob Harris who combined to catch 18 (!) TD passes LY. Jaylon Robinson is a legit #1 and they hope that the numerous talented transfers will be able to catch on quickly. They also TAKE IT ON THE CHIN at RB where there top-two RBs depart (McCrae, Anderson) and those men combined to rush for over 1,400Y and 14 (!) TDs in 2020. #3 Bentavious Thompson averaged over 5 YPC LY and will work with a few transfers including Isaiah Bowser from Northwestern (866, 6 TD in 2018). Everyone is back up front including 1st Team AAC center Matt Lee and they’ll be one of the best OLs in the conference. <NOTE: update – RB Bentavious Thompson is no longer with the team; RB RJ Harvey is OFY due to injury >
The Knights lost a lot of folks due to opt-outs and dismissals and it showed in 2020. They allowed over 30 PPG for the first time since 2015 (33.2, #8 AAC) and were equally mediocre vs the run (#93 FBS) and the pass (#104 pass efficiency D, 299 YPG). Nine starters return and they should be back to their old selves. Kalia Davis and Cam Goode are solid up front and their deep unit is bolstered with a pair of fine transfers in Big KAT Bryant (Auburn) and Ricky Barber (WKU). The fast and talented LB corps is led by #2 tackler Eriq Gilyard (#1 TFL, 8.5) but there’s some improving to do on the back end. The loss of star safety and #1 tackler Richie Grant really stings (NFL). This has the look of a good, but not great defense.
All the key components return but they’ll need to get better performance out of PK Daniel Obarski (12/17 FG LY). P Andrew Osteen is solid and they should be able to find some good return men with all that team speed.
Overall – The season LID LIFTER is a tough match-up as they face Boise St. The trip to LUA-VUH won’t be easy. They have to face SMU and Cincinnati ON THE HIGHWAY but they only play one road game in November.
Potential ATS Trouble Spot – Nothing heinous noted.
Season Win Total
per 5Dimes July 31
Over 9.5 +110
Under 9.5 -130
That looks about right. We have them pegged at 9-10 wins. If they take care of the Broncos in the opener the ‘over’ would look pretty joooocy.
New HC Gus Malzahn boasts a career record of 50-12 at home (.806) (!) but is just 21-20 in true road games.
The plandemic season of 2020 didn’t treat the Knights that well, but we must not forget that these guys won 35 (!) games from 2017-2019. This is still a very talented roster with a superstar QB, and we think that Gus Malzahn is a good fit for the program. It’s not ideal to have to face Cincinnati on the road but the Knights have a good shot to get to the AAC Championship Game.
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