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Saturday, December 4, 2021

Football

The Opposition: Houston takes on an offensive juggernaut in UCF


Houston quarterback Clayton Tune extends his arms as he waits for the running back to cross against Cincinnati at TDECU Stadium during the 2019 regular season. | Trevor Nolley/The Cougar

Houston quarterback Clayton Tune extends his arms as he waits for the running back to cross against Cincinnati at TDECU Stadium during the 2019 regular season. | Trevor Nolley/The Cougar

The Cougars will return home following a 37-21 win against Navy, giving them their second win of the season in impressive fashion, and now are ready to host UCF on Saturday afternoon at TDECU Stadium.

The Knights (3-2, 2-2 American Athletic Conference) enter their sixth game of the season while the Cougars (2-1, 2-0) enter Saturday’s matchup with only three games under their belt.

The two teams have faced off nine times in the past, with the last meeting in 2019, which was a 44-29 victory for the Knights.

Here is a first look at what to expect from UCF on Saturday:

The Knights’ season so far

UCF comes to TDECU Stadium off of a 51-34 win over Tulane Saturday. An eye-popping score from an offensive standpoint, but it is nothing new for UCF given they are currently averaging 45 points a game.

The success of UCF and its electrifying offense comes from sophomore quarterback Dillon Gabriel, who is entering Saturday’s game with 2,178 passing yards, 20 total touchdowns and just two interceptions.

The team has scored 100 points total in the last two games alone. Gabriel threw for 1,023 yards and 10 touchdowns in those contests.

Last week against Tulane showed more of what Gabriel and this team are about: pouring on points.

The 51-34 win was the third-largest margin the Knights have won by, tied their season-high in points (51 against ECU) and showed that, despite having suffered two losses already, it will not be easy to give them a third.

What to watch for

UCF brings an offensive juggernaut of a team with Gabriel, who is putting up numbers UH has only seen in BYU junior quarterback Zach Wilson.

Gabriel has two standout targets in senior receiver Marlon Williams and sophomore wideout Jaylon Robinson, who account for 1,355 of Gabriel’s 2,178 passing yards and have 10 of his 19 passing touchdowns.

Senior running backs Greg McCrae and Otis Anderson split the carries for UCF, totaling just under 700 net yards and six touchdowns between them.

While UCF is able to pour points on in a hurry, its defense still allows about 33 points per game, allowing roughly 200 rushing yards and 287 passing yards on average.

The offensive side is somewhere UH has excelled at, especially the passing game, and this is where UH will have to make its statement on Saturday.

Where to watch

The game will take place at TDECU Stadium and kickoff will be at 1 p.m. CT with a 25 percent fan capacity. The game will be on ESPN+, UH’s first contest on the platform as a part of the AAC-ESPN deal, or can be listened to on KRPC 950 AM radio.

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