AAC Football Week 6: SMU Mustangs at UCF Knights

Big South Tournament

SMU at UCF
Time: 6 PM CT
Spread: UCF -24
Total: 74

Odds c/o 5dimes

The UCF Knights continue their improbable run at another undefeated season as it enters Week 6 with a 4-0 mark and not a single game that has been close. This week, the Knights host SMU as 24-point favorites. But the question lingering for UCF fans, is “Can the team still make the BCS playoffs without facing a single ranked opponent?” Be that beyond the Knights control, it will look to improve to 5-0 as it hosts the Mustangs at 6 PM (CT) Saturday on ESPN U.

UCF

UCF has been outright dominant this year. The Knights rank No. 15 in team defense, allowing just 16.8 points per game, all the while possessing the nation’s No. 7 offense, scoring 48.8 points per game. The versatility of its offensive attack is perhaps the most impressive part: It ranks No. 20 in passing offense at 310 yards per game, while possessing the No. 5 rush attack at 272.8 yards per contest. Do the math: That’s almost 600 yards a game on average, for a team with a top-15 defense. How that does not spell contender is fairly obvious, but UCF has climbed to the No. 12 spot in the AP Rankings and is virtually a near-lock to repeat as champs of the AAC.

After Blake Bortles left the Knights for the NFL, it just became a matter of which recruit would become the next stud for UCF.

That task fell to McKenzie Milton, and he is fulfilling all of his lofty potentials.

Milton has thrown for 1,223 yards at a 61.3 percent clip with 13 TDs and just three picks. That is good for a 163.2 passer rating, and Milton is hardly bereft of rushing skills. The quarterback ranks No.3 in rushing yards on UCF, with 198 on 33 attempts (6.0 per) and a team-high five rushing TDs.

Not to be outdone, UCF’s running backs are just as effective: Adrian Killins Jr. leads the way in total yards (233) and has three TDs to his credit, while No. 2 back Greg McCrae has rushed for 204 yards and a team-best (min. 10 carries) 7.6 yards-per-carry.

Even going down the depth chart, UCF has more talent waiting in the wings: Taj McGowan, Bentavious Thompson, and Darriel Mack Jr. all have 100-plus yards on the season, and Mack Jr. has a 70-yard TD run to his credit already. UCF just obliterates defenses and it can do so via the rush or the pass.

This week could be particularly ugly given SMU’s own defensive shortcoming against one of the nation’s most diverse and versatile offenses. UCF has so much talent at the skill positions that even its reserves best most of the talent elsewhere in the AAC.

SMU

SMU’s 2-3 record is a tad deceiving. The Mustangs began the season by facing Top-20 opponents in weeks 2 and 3, losing both contests to TCU and Michigan, but it has gone 2-1 outside those predictable losses, defeating Navy and destroying Houston Baptist last week 63-27. The Mustangs still possess a rather mediocre offense, which is hardly good considering it is one of the worst defensive teams in the nation. The Mustangs are giving up 38 points per game while scoring a still-decent 30.2 itself, but the result —expectedly— is mostly mediocrity.

Quarterback Ben Hicks has hardly been good and is behind the overall mediocrity of SMU’s offense. He has thrown just 51.6 percent for completion while averaging under six yards per attempt, with only five TDs on the year. His passer rating is an unimpressive 115.0 William Brown then replaced him as a  starter, with slightly better results, but against less tough defensive teams.

Brown threw 21 of 29 against Navy for 150 yards and two touchdowns, and last week against Houston Baptist he topped 300-yards with a pair of TDs and a 92-yard pass completion. Perhaps it is the sign of things to come, some improvement for SMU, but make no mistake— UCF utterly outclasses the Mustangs in every facet of football this year, and that is why oddsmakers project this to be a lopsided affair. UCF may not have a single close game until its Bowl appearance this year, though.

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