No. 16 UCF Knights Look To Make Statement On National Stage Against Pac-12 Foe Stanford

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Kickoff set for 3:30 p.m. on ESPN

ABOVE VIDEO: Marc Daniels joins Samantha Kincaid to preview the UCF football team’s upcoming game against Stanford in this week’s installment of Five Fast Facts presented by Chick-fil-A.

ORLANDO, FLORIDA – UCF Knights will welcome in a national audience Saturday afternoon when they host Pac-12 juggernaut Stanford Cardinal at Spectrum Stadium.

For the Knights (2-0), this is an opportunity they have been waiting for, a chance to make a statement against a Power 5 school in UCF’s house with a national audience on ESPN tuning in.

In what is one of UCF’s biggest non-conference regular season games in recent memory, the Knights will get a vulnerable Stanford (1-1) at a time when they are nursing multiple injuries at key positions.

QB K.J. Costello is expected to start on Saturday for the Cardinal after he was held out last week in the 45-20 loss against USC due to a head injury against Northwestern in Week 1.

“Costello will get you fired up. He’s an established leader and player,” tight end Colby Parkinson said. “It’s nice to get a captain back to play.”

Things haven’t gotten any better for Stanford either, as the Cardinal will be without their top offensive lineman, left tackle Walker Little, who suffered a season-ending knee injury in the season opener. Also, starting right tackle Foster Sarell is listed as doubtful today.

Those injuries on the offensive line mean Stanford will be starting two freshmen at both tackle spots against the Knights at 3:30 p.m.

Despite the injuries for Stanford, UCF also has some questions at the quarterback position too. With Brandon Wimbush nursing an undisclosed injury, Coach Heupel has not ruled out Wimbush for Saturday’s game and even mentioned Darriel Mack Jr. as a potential starter after he broke his ankle in July. Freshman Dillon Gabriel could also start after he got the start last week against Florida Atlantic and helped lead the Knights to a 48-14 win on the road.

Regardless of who starts at QB for UCF, the UCF rushing attack has been lead by the Big 4; Otis Anderson, Adrian Killins, Greg McCrae and Ben Thompson, who each have over 100 yards this season.

Stanford has won the only previous meeting between the two teams 31-7 in Palo Alto in 2015.

UCF enters Saturday as 9-point favorites against Stanford.

The Knights are 16-0 straight up and 11-5 against the spread in their last 16 games at home.

It has been a long journey for UCF to gain respect on the national stage, a win on Saturday will help their case for a New Year’s Six Bowl and, maybe, begin the debate again for a spot in the College Football Playoff.

KEYS TO VICTORY FOR UCF

For the Knights to win on Saturday, it will be vital that they win the battle upfront on defense. With a very inexperienced offensive line on the outside, Stanford may utilize their size to overpower UCF in the trenches with their famous ‘Jumbo’ formation that features a downhill rushing attack and an extra offensive lineman on the line, alongside their big tight ends to supplement those tackles’ inexperience.

If UCF can limit Stanford’s run game, the Knights should be able to stifle the Cardinal drives and put more pressure on the Stanford defense

KEYS TO VICTORY FOR STANFORD

Control the clock and manage long drives. Keeping UCF’s offense off the field and working UCF’s defense could spell trouble for the Knights if Stanford is able to maintain extended drives and win the field position battle. If UCF has to drive the entire length of the field on offense, that could bode well for Stanford as the Cardinal are notorious for playing smart defense and making offenses earn their points.

If Stanford can force UCF’s offense into some three-and-outs, it could be a long day for UCF’s defense if Stanford is able to have their way upfront on the offensive line.

Kickoff is set for 3:30 p.m. on ESPN.

ESPN’s Mark Jones and Dusty Dvoracek will call the game.

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