TULSA, Okla. – Since its lone conference loss to No. 17 Cincinnati, Central Florida has returned to dominant form with three straight double-digit victories. Though a berth in the American Athletic Conference championship game seems unlikely, the Knights look to continue their winning ways Friday night whey they visit Tulsa, which has yet to win an AAC game.
TV: 7 p.m. ET, ESPN2. LINE: UCF -17
UCF's dominance has stemmed from its high-powered offense as it scored at least 41 points in each game of the winning streak. It leads the AAC in scoring offense (46.3 points per game), passing offense (324.9 yards) and total offense (551 yards), with each mark good enough for top eight in the country. Much of the success for the Knights comes at the hands of freshman quarterback Dillon Gabriel, who has an 8:0 touchdown-to-interception ratio in the last three contests. Gabriel and the UCF offense should continue to feast against a Golden Hurricane's defense that has allowed more than 400 yards per game.
ABOUT CENTRAL FLORIDA (7-2, 4-1 AAC)
A new favorite target has emerged for Gabriel in the form of redshirt junior receiver Tre Nixon, who has eclipsed 100 yards in two of the last four games while hauling in five touchdowns. But it is still junior Gabriel Davis that leads the team in receiving yards and touchdowns, having caught at least three passes in every game this season. But a two-headed monster has also emerged in the Knights’ backfield, with redshirt sophomore Bentavious Thompson scoring six times in the last four games in addition to leading rusher Otis Anderson, who rushed for 206 yards in a 63-21 victory over Temple on Oct. 26.
ABOUT TULSA (2-7, 0-5)
The Golden Hurricane have had respectable offensive showings against top conference opponents, falling one point shy of beating No. 19 Memphis in addition to taking No. 23 SMU to three overtimes. Redshirt junior quarterback Zach Smith has gone two straight games without throwing an interception and has been targeting receivers Keylon Stokes and Sam Crawford Jr. often as both have at least 40 receptions. Running back Shamari Brooks has delivered when leaned on, eclipsing 100 yards rushing each time he has seen 29 or more carries.
1. UCF is eighth nationally in third-down defense at 29.4 percent.
2. UCF is bowl-eligible for the fourth straight season - the longest streak in program history.
3. Stokes has eclipsed 1,000 career receiving and kick return yards for Tulsa.
PREDICTION: UCF 42, Tulsa 23