GN Note: I moved to front page to at least get USD on our radar. Here is their box score from Saturday.
Not sure if anyone noticed, but our next opponent was in action against another FBS team this past weekend. The Knights of Central Florida (when introduced that way sounds like a fraternal organization--but I digress) hosted the Coyotes of South Dakota. That is right. The Coyotes--not the Jackrabbits who we have gotten used to seeing on the football and basketball schedules and usually put up more of a fight than we expect.
For those who are not fans of Conference USA, the UCF Knights are a decent program coached by George O'Leary who have been to the C-USA conference championship a few times (2005 & 2007) winning it once. They finished second in their division last year with an 8-5 overall record. So how did they do against the Coyotes?
Well, they treated them the way any FBS team with even mild success should treat a FCS (D-1AA) team. They destroyed them. They more than doubled their yards and first downs en route to a comfortable 38-7 win. South Dakota was able to run the ball with some success, totaling 116 yards on the ground at a 4.5 average. They didn't have as much success through the air as they only got to 104 yards on 10/19 passing.
There were no turnovers in the game, so it isn't like UCF just capitalized on mistakes all day. Instead, they just ran the ball down their throats--to the tune of 231 yards and a 5.0 average--and were very efficient passing at 18/22 for 241 yards; a very balanced attack.
This should be another good opponent for the Gophers to execute and impose their will to run the ball. Unfortunately, Brewster has not instilled any sort of killer instinct in his tenure with the team--when have we beat anyone comfortably? Our record against FCS teams is 2-1, with the total score in those three contests just 72-63.
I would like to predict a Gophers blowout, but I don't have the confidence in this team to do so. It will probably end up being much closer than it needs to be, but it won't come down to the final moments. I'm thinking 34-17 with the Gophers getting a late TD to put the game away for good. We will see some more rushing yards amassed, reminiscent of the Barber/Maroney days, along with us continuing to give up yards on the defensive side of the ball. I expect to see some more passing from the offense as a tune up for USC, and thus more of a balanced attack than we saw against MTSU; similar to what UCF was able to do against the Coyotes, but probably not as dominating.