Central Florida Knights vs. South Florida Bulls Pick & Prediction NOVEMBER 26th 2022

Stadium: Raymond James Stadium Tampa
Logo Central Florida Knights
VS
Logo South Florida Bulls
0
OPENER
65.5

-23.5 +142
CURRENT
68.5o -110

-280
MONEYLINE
+240

46
SCORE
39

No. 22 UCF blew its chance to host the American Athletic Conference championship game with last weekend's shocking loss to Navy but goes into its regular-season finale Saturday against South Florida at Tampa, Fla., still with an opportunity to play for the league championship.

While Tulane and Cincinnati will be playing this weekend for the right to host the title game on Dec. 3, the Knights (8-3, 5-2 AAC) could earn the visitor's spot with a win over the Bulls (1-10, 0-7).

The Knights hold the tiebreaking edge over both Tulane and Cincinnati - and if Houston also wins Saturday, the resulting three-way tie could go all the way to a composite computer ranking. With UCF No. 22 in this week's CFP rankings, the Knights would appear to hold an advantage over unranked Houston.

If Houston loses to Tulane, a UCF victory over USF would leave the Knights in the clear as the No. 2 team.

"We win the game (at South Florida) I like our chances," UCF coach Gus Malzahn said. "That's really about it."

The tendency would be to take a win over the struggling Bulls for granted, but Malzahn knows all too well that a win last week over 3-7 Navy did not materialize. And he remembers last year's 17-13 UCF squeaker of a victory over a two-win South Florida team.

"We're not overlooking them, especially with what happened last year," Malzahn said. "And they were in a similar situation."

One difference is that Jeff Scott, who was coaching the Bulls that game, was fired earlier this month and special teams coordinator Daniel Da Prato is serving as South Florida's interim coach.

Malzahn confirmed that John Rhys Plumlee will start at quarterback for UCF if he is healthy after missing the second half last week with a shoulder problem. Mikey Keene finished the loss to Navy.

"John Rhys is our starting quarterback," Malzah said. "We're fortunate enough to have a guy like Mikey right there ready to go. We'll see how practice goes."

USF, meanwhile, gave freshman Byrum Brown his first collegiate start last week and he responded with 240 yards and three touchdowns passing, and 76 and another score on the ground, in a 48-42 loss to Tulsa. His performance did not surprise Da Prato.

"Since the day he got here he has prepared for that opportunity," Da Prato said. "And he's prepared properly."

This will be the last meeting between the rivals for a while. UCF is leaving the AAC to join the Big 12 in 2023.

--Field Level Media

PREDICTION
Central Florida Knights
47
24
South Florida Bulls

Central Florida Knights vs. South Florida Bulls Recap NOV 26TH 2022

Backup quarterback Mikey Keene tossed a touchdown pass with 20 seconds left and No. 22 UCF escaped with a 46-39 victory over host South Florida on Saturday night in Tampa, Fla.

The Knights had to rally after squandering a 24-point lead in the third quarter.

UCF earned a berth in the American Athletic Conference championship game. The Knights (9-3, 6-2 AAC) will play regular-season winner Tulane in New Orleans next Saturday.

Keene took over in the second half when starter John Rhys Plumlee left the game after apparently aggravating a hamstring injury.

Plumlee rushed for 133 yards and was 9-of-9 passing for 73 yards and a score in the first half in leading UCF to a 28-0 lead midway through the second quarter and a 28-7 cushion at the break.

Keene finished 15-of-19 passing for 129 yards and hit Javon Baker with a 41-yard pass to South Florida's 29-line on the final drive before connecting with Holler on a 14-yard strike for the decisive score. He also had a TD pass to Kobe Hudson.

Byrum Brown was 13-for-20 for 140 yards and a touchdown and rushed for 109 yards and two touchdowns for the Bulls (1-11, 0-8 AAC). His 42-yard TD run gave the Bulls a 39-38 lead with 7:02 remaining but his final pass into the end zone as time ran out fell incomplete.

Brian Battie posted his fifth consecutive triple-digit rushing game to tie a school record set by Jordan Cronkrite in 2012. Battie ended up with 144 yards on 19 carries, including a 14-yard touchdown run.

After their early dominance, the Knights had a disastrous third quarter.

The Bulls scored on Brown's 4-yard run to start the second half, then took advantage of UCF fumbles on consecutive series to add two more scores to outscore the Knights 22-3 in the third quarter.

The Bulls had a scoring opportunity in the first quarter end when Brown's fumble at UCF's 4-yard line sailed into the end zone, where Justin Hodges recovered for a touchback.

The Bulls put together a 15-play, 75-yard scoring drive capped by Brown's 2-yard pass to Sean Atkins with just 40 seconds left in the second quarter before the flood gates opened in the third quarter.

--Field Level Media