Kansas State Wildcats (3-0) VS. UCF Knights (2-1)
Fort Riley Day | University Family Day
Bill Snyder Family Stadium — Manhattan, Kan.
Saturday, Sept. 25, 2010 — 11:40 AM CST
After a brief, poorly attended diversion to Kansas City, the Wildcats return home to the comfy confines of the Bill to take on a young, speedy, scrappy team from Florida.
But they better not be caught looking ahead to Nebraska, because the Golden Kuhniggits have upset on their minds. Now follow the jump, before I taunt them a second time.
Carson Coffman (35 of 54, 450 yards, 4 TD, 1 INT)
Brodrick Smith (12 catches, 179 yards, 3 TD)
Daniel Thomas (83 carries, 552 yards, 6 TD)
Jeffrey Godfrey (28 of 41, 302 yards, 1 TD, 0 INT; 26 carries, 104 yards, 2 TD)
A.J. Guyton (12 catches, 154 yards, 1 TD)
Jonathan Davis (44 carries, 149 yards, 1 TD)
KSU (11 | +3) > UCF (54)
UCF (82) > KSU (102 | -13)
KSU (44 | -8) > UCF (76)
KSU (26 | -3) > UCF (67)
UCF (45) > KSU (83 | +8)
Pass Efficiency Defense
UCF (9) > KSU (16 | +10)
UCF (15) > KSU (67 | +13)
UCF (19) > KSU (65 | +3)
KSU (34 | +14) > UCF (95)
UCF (65) > KSU (83 | -12)
KSU (8 | +1) > UCF (15)
KSU (33 | -10) > UCF (89)
UCF (12) > KSU (43 | +16)
KSU (26 | -12) > UCF (68)
Running, running, running. That's the name of the game Saturday.
K-State's rush offense is way more potent than anything UCF has seen to date, and although the Golden Knights have pretty good defensive numbers across the board thus far — hell, they have Top 25 defense numbers — their rush defense clearly is their weakness, if they have one.
UCF has a slightly better pass offense than K-State, but it's not the significant difference that Iowa State had. The Wildcats' 16th-ranked pass efficiency defense ought to be able to do some damage here, especially at home.
The crazy thing is that K-State's passing efficiency is much better than UCF's, which probably is attributable more to Bill Snyder's cautious play calling than it is Carson Coffman's decision making, although the latter has been at least adequate, if not mind blowing.
One more area in which K-State can make hay is by turning UCF over. The Knights are 89th in turnover margin, which is pretty crappy for a 2-1 team. Even our soft defensive scheme ought to have some success in snatching the football, and the teams are closely enough matched in some areas that turnovers could decide the game.
UCF's kick return game is almost as good as ours, so its imperative that our return coverage continue to improve.
Likewise, UCF is a good punt return team, which might nullify our advantage in net punting. It's a good bet that the Knights' overall speed will make special teams a key area of battle in tomorrow's game, and we'll need to minimize mistakes in order to have the advantage in the third phase of the game.
There's been a lot of talk about UCF's freshman QB, Jeff Godfrey, and for good reason. He's a true dual-threat quarterback who broke a lot of Jacory Harris' high school records. His numbers thus far are solid, but unspectacular.
But he's also a freshman, and this will be his first truly hostile road start. (Buffalo makes KU look like Death Valley.)
Both the fans and the Purple Swarm will need to dial up the pressure on young Mr. Godfrey and force some dumb mistakes. I doubt he will play with the kind of poise we saw from Cody Kirby and Austen Arnaud, who both are veterans. And he will be a perfect warm-up for another mobile freshman QB we're going to play 1.5 weeks later.
Bruce Miller is the household name on defense, although he's off to a slow start this season. Here's what Rivals.com had to say about him when it ranked him as the preseason 15th-best defensive end:
The nation's current career leader in sacks, with 27? It's this guy. He's not overly big, but he is speedy off the edge and relentless. He had 13 sacks last season, with another seven quarterback hurries. He had multiple sacks in four games. His career high of three sacks in a game came in 2008 against Miami.
Manase Foketi and Zach Hanson will have their hands full keeping Miller off Coffman's back, although Clyde Aufner also will be available to assist in that department. We're also expected to regain the services of Emmanuel Lamur, which will help immensely in trying to contain Godfrey's running ability.
So to summarize, the keys are 1) run the ball, 2) protect the ball, 3) turn the ball over and 4) don't give up the big play. It's starting to get repetitive, but this team wins with ball-control offense and bend-don't-break defense. If it works Saturday, you can count on seeing the same game plan against Nebraska, but with a few wrinkles added.
Prediction: Kansas State 30, UCF 21
BracketCat's Projected Starters
QB: Carson Coffman
FB: Braden Wilson
RB: Daniel Thomas
KR: William Powell
PR: Tramaine Thompson
Elsewhere in the Big 12...
David Ubben and I both are predicting an undefeated week for the Big 12, but considering four teams are idle and it's still cupcake month, that's not saying much. David and I also have hit on all of our picks, with the exception of two completely unpredictable KU performances this month. (You know which two I'm talking about.)
Missouri will win again and probably will look thoroughly uninspired in the process — again.
UCLA resuscitated its season against Houston, but one non-conference win against a Texas team will have to be enough. I just can't see any way for that Bruins offense to score more than a touchdown against UT's defense, especially in Austin.
Oklahoma will struggle slightly in Cincinnati, but the Bearcats have looked simply terrible this season. No upset here.
If it's at all possible, New Mexico State might be worse than most Missouri Valley teams. If KU can't win this one going away, the Jayhawks won't win another game all season. I'd call it the Pillow Fight of the Year, to borrow a meme from ESPN's Bottom 10, but that award definitely goes to New Mexico vs. New Mexico State later this season.
Speaking of Missouri Valley teams, both Iowa State and Nebraska take on a Valley foe tomorrow. However, they're not exactly cut from the same cloth. South Dakota State will struggle to keep its head above water both in Lincoln and later this season.
Bu Northern Iowa is the team that North Dakota State coach Craig Bohl said was better than KU and had less docile fans. Then the Panthers proved it by beating the Bison. If Iowa State overlooks its in-state cousin at all, the Cyclones will have their hands full. After all UNI, already owns them in basketball, just like it owns KU.
Finally, there's Baylor at Rice. The Bears should fare better against this former Southwest Conference foe than they did last week, simply given that there's a world of difference between Rice and TCU. But when you're an anemic football program playing on the road, you just never know...
Miami University at Missouri
Tigers 34, RedHawks 17
UCLA at Texas (ABC)
Longhorns 30, Bruins 6
Oklahoma at Cincinnati (ESPN2)
31, Bearcats 12
New Mexico State at Kansas (FCS)
Jayhawks 52, Aggies 28
South Dakota State at Nebraska (FSN PPV)
Cornhuskers 51, Jackrabbits 13
Northern Iowa at Iowa State
Cyclones 39, Panthers 30
Baylor at Rice (CBS College Sports)
, Owls 26
All helmet images are courtesy of The Helmet Project. Check it out — it's pretty cool.