MEMPHIS - Ninth-ranked Central Florida has yet to be challenged in the first five games of the season and could face its toughest test Saturday afternoon at Memphis in a rematch of the 2017 American Athletic Conference championship game. The Knights have extended their nation-best winning streak to 18 games while winning by an average of 31.2 points over the first five contests of 2018, including a 48-20 triumph against SMU last weekend.
TV: 3:30 p.m. ET, ESPN2 or ABC. LINE: UCF -4.5
UCF has won 11 of the 12 previous meetings, including a 62-55 double-overtime victory in the title game after a 40-13 win over the Tigers in the regular season last year - both games in Orlando, Fla. - and are averaging 48.6 points along with 574.4 yards per game in 2018. “I feel like it’s going to be a really good game, high energy with a lot of people flying around,” Central Florida sophomore receiver Tre Nixon told the Orlando Sentinel. “I think we’ll be ready for it, and I think they’ll be ready for it, too.” Memphis has won three of its last four games, including a 55-14 triumph against Connecticut last week, and averages 7.7 yards per attempt on the ground while ranking eighth in the nation in rushing overall (274.5 per game) as it approaches the showdown at home. “It’s going to be a great atmosphere and we’re going to be ready to go,” Tigers junior running back Darrell Henderson, averaging a nation-best 11.8 yards per carry, told reporters. “We got to get revenge.”
ABOUT CENTRAL FLORIDA (5-0, 2-0 American)
Junior running back Adrian Killins Jr. had a season-high 113 yards, along with his fourth touchdown on the ground, in last week’s victory over SMU and the Knights average 6.1 yards per carry. Junior quarterback McKenzie Milton continues to put up big numbers, throwing for 15 TDs and rushing for another five, and is completing almost 60 percent of his passes. Milton has plenty of impressive targets with sophomores Gabriel Davis (27 catches, 365 yards, four TDs) and Nixon (20, 312, three), along with junior Dredrick Snelson (21, 269, two), leading the way while UCF is eighth in the nation in turnover margin (plus-1.40).
ABOUT MEMPHIS (4-2, 1-2)
Henderson needs just 66 rushing yards to reach the 1,000 for the second straight season and has run for at least 174 yards in four of the first six games while scoring 12 touchdowns on the ground (14 total). Junior Patrick Taylor Jr. rushed for 161 yards last week and junior quarterback Brady White was 16-of-18 through the air for 239 yards against UConn as coach Mike Norvell told reporters: “We played like the Memphis Tigers, and that’s what I was most pleased with.” The Tigers boast eight players with at least 99 receiving yards, led by sophomore Damonte Coxie (30 catches, 466 yards, four TDs) and junior John Pop Williams (19, 209, one).
1. Memphis junior RB Tony Pollard is averaging 31.8 yards per kickoff return with six of them brought back for touchdowns in his career.
2. Milton needs 359 yards of total offense to pass Darin Hinshaw (8,865) for third on the school’s all-time list.
3. Tigers junior LB Bryce Huff boasts five sacks and 11 tackles for loss in the first six contests.
PREDICTION: Central Florida 42, Memphis 31
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