Staff Predictions: Owls set to take on UCF in tough matchup

FAU holds an 0-3 record against UCF.

FAU is ready for its encounter with the University of Central Florida at Howard Schnellenberger Field.

The Owls are coming off a resounding 42-9 victory over Southeastern Louisiana, as they look to stay undefeated at home.

According to ESPN, the Knights are the eight-point favorites to win this matchup against FAU, who have yet to win a match in the three previous games.

The University Press Sports Staff makes their selections after going 4-0 last week.

Cameron Priester – Sports Editor (1-2)

With all of the anticipation surrounding this matchup, expect the Owls to come out of the locker room fired up. With that, the play calling will be really aggressive to start out as well. 

In games where the Owls may be a little overmatched, it will be important for them to get ahead early. As a result, the team will try to take deep shots to playmakers like wide receivers LaJohntay Wester and Jahmal Edrine on their first drive. 

Unfortunately, penalties have continued to be a problem throughout the year, and that trend more than likely won’t change this week with the nerves of a big matchup.

Also, with key injuries plaguing the defensive line, expect FAU to have trouble containing Knights’ dual-threat quarterback John Rhys Plumlee. Sophomore defensive lineman Evan Anderson has been ruled out due to injury, and redshirt junior safety Jaylen Joyner is currently ruled to play, but has been dealing with injury this past week. 

The Owls’ defense more than likely won’t be able to slow the Knights’ down enough for the offense to keep up.  

Prediction: UCF 35, FAU 17

Richard Pereira – News Editor (2-1)

It makes sense for FAU fans to have plenty of anticipation heading into what is arguably the biggest game of the season against UCF.

Even with a 1-1 record and its most recent performance being a 20-14 loss to Louisville, UCF still has an offense FAU has to watch out for.

The Knights have a solid quarterback in senior John Rhys Plumlee, who is versatile in throwing passes and running the ball himself. In two games this season, he has 439 passing yards for four touchdowns while getting 183 rushing yards on 33 carries for one touchdown.

For FAU to have a good chance to win, the team will need a strong performance on both sides of the ball. The Owls rank 33rd out of 131 teams in the country in points per game (UCF ranks 57th) and 59th in points allowed per game (UCF is tied for 33rd) so they have the ability to balance out their flaws and use their strength to find holes in the Knights’ defense.

The Owls should also make use of their wide receivers very frequently throughout the game. Sophomore LaJohntay Wester is coming off a remarkable performance against Southeastern Louisiana with eight receptions for 140 yards, as he leads the team with 222 receiving yards and 15 catches total.

If the Owls lose, it will be the expected result. However, if FAU is able to keep the game close and expose UCF’s weaknesses, the team has an opportunity to pull off one of the most memorable wins in program history. 

Prediction: UCF 28, FAU 21

Trey Avant – Staff Writer (2-1)

FAU has a solid run defense that will cause frustrations for UCF but for the Owls to come out of this rivalry game with a win, they must be better in defending against the pass.

In the game against Ohio, FAU gave up 354 passing yards for four touchdowns.

UCF is not a great offensive team but FAU is currently giving up 254.7 passing yards per game. They have also given up seven passing touchdowns as well. It is not a stretch to say UCF quarterback John Rhys Plumlee could have a big game on Saturday.

Offensively, FAU is the better team. The season is still young but FAU is averaging 41 points per game this season. Graduate quarterback N’Kosi Perry is currently second in the nation in passing yards at 879 passing yards. Meanwhile, running back Larry McCammon III currently sits at fourth in the country in rushing yards at 303 rushing yards.

Unfortunately for the Owls, UCF boasts a strong defense that is only giving up 15 points and 125.5 passing yards per game. 

FAU has what it takes to pull off the upset but the greater talent on UCF’s roster will likely be the difference maker.

Prediction: UCF 27, FAU 21

Kevin Garcia – Staff Writer (1-1)

FAU will host in-state rival UCF in a prime-time game that will no doubt feature the largest crowd for a home game all season. FAU will need to rely on its offense to keep up with the Knights if the team wants to come away with a victory Saturday night. 

The Owls are coming off an impressive offensive performance and dominant win against Southeastern Louisiana last week. However, the Knights are not the Lions and this will be a tough test for head coach Willie Taggart and company. 

To expect another 100-yard game from both of its running backs would be unfair, but the dual attack of Larry McCammon III and Zuberi Mobley will be a key to victory. LaJohntay Wester will look to follow up on his career night last Saturday as well. 

UCF is not nearly the powerhouse they were under Scott Foster, but they still are the more talented team on paper. Quarterback John Rhys Plumlee is completing just 55% of his passes this season, so FAU has an opportunity to slow the the Knights’ offense down if they can put enough pressure on him.

Expect this game to be closer than most people think due to the decline of UCF football, but the talent disparity is still evident. FAU will keep this game close until the Knights pull away in the fourth quarter. 

Prediction: UCF 30, FAU 20

For information regarding this or other stories, email [email protected] or tweet the staff:  Cameron Priester (@PriesterCameron), Richard Pereira (@Rich26Pereira), and Trey Avant (@TreyAvant3), and Kevin Garcia (@Kevingar658)