Despite being 3-point underdogs as they travel to Orlando, the UConn Huskies are a much better team than Central Florida according to S&P+ efficiency. The rankings have UConn 99th in the country, which isn't great, but at least UCF is 126th-- two away from the bottom.
This week, Football Study Hall's projections have UConn winning by 11, with a 74.3% chance of victory.
UConn's offense has not been in good shape. It is struggling with field position and in finishing scoring chances, as evidenced by being ranked No. 112 in average starting field position and No. 123 in points per trip in the 40 in the country. These problems are all about sustaining drives, something which UConn has been unable to do. Being one of the worst teams in the country on third down doesn't help either.
The Huskies need to get Noel Thomas more involved in the offense, on more than just deep balls.The running game, which has been operating without contribution from Ron Johnson the past two games, has not been strong either. True freshman wide receiver Tyraiq Beals and sophomore running back Arkeel Newsome have been the bright spots over the past two games. But the offense simply hasn't been consistent.
Central Florida enters the game with a struggling offense of its own. 35 points against Tulane last week may suggest otherwise, but most of those points were scored after the game was well in hand for the opposition. An offensive efficiency ranked 126th in the country and 13 points per game in the other four games tells the full story.
Both UConn and UCF are stronger on the defensive side of the ball, so this should be a relatively low-scoring affair. For UCF 'strength' is a relative term as its defensive efficiency is 99th in the country-- 30 behind UConn.
It is common for UConn to be battling until late in games when the Huskies' inability to sustain drives puts their defense on the field too much, causing them to lose. I could see this pattern playing out Saturday, except with UCF being the one to falter late.
How to Watch or Listen
TV: ESPNews, 3:45pm (Anish Shroff and Ahmad Brooks)
Radio: WTIC 1080 (Joe D'Ambrosio, Wayne Norman, Kevin Nathan)
Series: This will be the third meeting between UConn and UCF, with the series tied at one win apiece. UConn won last year 37-29 at home and two years ago the Huskies were blown out in Orlando, 62-17, under interim head coach T.J. Weist.
Fun Fact: UConn has 11 players on its roster from Florida.
Weekend TV Schedule
With a few suggestions:
(10) Oklahoma vs. Texas, Dallas, TX, 12pm, ABC - Texas is in absolute free-fall mode with all sorts of rumors swirling about Charlie Strong's future after a putrid start and the firing of Texas Athletic Director Steve Patterson. A neutral-site game against No. 10 Oklahoma isn't exactly the medicine they need right now.
Tulane at Temple, 12pm, ESPNews - Find out exactly how we should feel about UConn's chances based on how good or bad Tulane looks against a Temple team that may be the class of the conference.
Syracuse at South Florida, 3:30pm, CBS Sports - Watch as these two schools renew this storied Big East football rivalry. UConn will play USF next week and Syracuse next year.
Navy at (15) Notre Dame, 3:30pm, NBC (#brand #AmericanRising) - Root hard for Navy. Did you know UConn Football is undefeated against Notre Dame?
East Carolina at BYU, 7:30pm, ESPNU - We get to evaluate UConn's future opponent by its performance against UConn's previous opponent. The Pirates had similar troubles as UConn against Navy, it will be interesting to see how they fare against a strong BYU side.
UConn Men's Hockey at Alabama-Hunstville, 8:07pm, Streaming - This isn't a football game, but you may have needed this reminder as you make your Saturday plans.
(23) Cal at (5) Utah, 10pm, ESPN - Two undefeated Pac 12 teams face off in what should be an exciting game with a lot of offense.