Fans may wonder what happened to my preview posts for Wednesday and my recap for the midweek Pride match. Travel happened--that's what. I am on the road just outside Detroit, Michigan. And later today I will be at "The Big House" to watch our UCF football team take on the Michigan Wolverines.
The last time the Knights played a team ranked as high as the Wolverines, the venue was the Fiesta Bowl in January of 2014, where they faced Baylor. Of course on that occasion, the Knights prevailed with a thrilling 52 - 42 victory. But past performance is not indicative of future results, as the old saying from the investment world goes, and here's a few reasons why:
- The 2016 Michigan Wolverines may be a better team than the 2013 Baylor Bears. It took everything the UCF defense could throw at the Bears to slow them down enough to keep them in the game, and the offense came up with more points than UCF fans had seen in decades. Michigan certainly looks to be a much more focused and steady defensive team in the smash-mouth Big Ten conference, so I think they will very much limit UCF's offensive output.
- The 2016 UCF Knights are not the same team that won the Fiesta Bowl. There are only a handful of players on the roster who were on the team in the 2013 season, including quarterback Justin Holman. Holman has always had a cannon for an arm, but in the first outing against South Carolina State, he struggled with accuracy in the first half. The second half was much better, but SC State was clearly an inferior opponent, and UCF's defense used SC State's myriad offensive penalties to pitch a shutout in the 38 - 0 victory.
- Michigan Head Coach Jim Harbaugh calls his 2016 recruiting class "the best he's ever coached." Lou Holtz perfected the art of coach speak, and since then whenever a coach has called an opponent the toughest team in the country or has said his current team is the best he's ever coached, you always wonder how much is real and how much is coach speak. But Harbaugh is a no-nonsense coach, and I'm inclined to take him at his word that his team is really, really good. And they looked really, really good against Hawaii last week in the season opener.
What I Want to See
Of course, i want to see my alma mater pull the upset of the season. After Houston knocked off Oklahoma last week and with multiple teams in the American Athletic Conference ranked in the Top 25, it's clear we will have a quality conference schedule. Even so, Michigan is likely the best team we will face all season (with the possible exception of Houston), and it's always great to get a win over a ranked team. And remember that in the 2014 Fiesta Bowl, there were no pundits who gave UCF a chance against Baylor, and the game had a ridiculously insane line showing Baylor as a 27-1/2 point favorite. I had as much fun grinding my bootheels in the throats of every damned fool idiot talking head on ESPN as I did watching the Knights dismantle Baylor in that game.
But I don't expect that. My hope for today is to see UCF play an entertaining game and keep the outcome in doubt at least through the first half.
Prediction - What I Expect to See
I predict a fairly routine victory for Michigan over a non-conference unranked opponent. I'm calling for a 42 - 17 final score in favor of the Wolverines. But I have more nuance to my prediction. Let's see how much (if any) of this takes place:
- UCF will score first and take a 7 - 0 lead early in the game.
- UCF's defense will force 2 turnovers.
- The halftime score will be 28 - 7 in favor of Michigan.
What about you? What do you expect to see from the UCF vs. Michigan game? Do you think the Knights will continue to look impressive under Scott Frost, or do you think Michigan will have a victory that is as lopsided as the victory against Hawaii? Let me know in the comments below!