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(15) UCF (10-1) at SMU (5-6)



Saturday, December 7, 12 p.m. (ET)

From The Sports Network

By Gregg Xenakes, Associate College Football Editor

GAME NOTES: The top team in the American Athletic Conference aims to close out the regular season on a positive note, as the 15th-ranked UCF Knights go up against the SMU Mustangs at Ford Stadium on Saturday.

Last week, the Knights ran their win streak to seven in a row with a narrow 23-20 victory over in-state rival South Florida. Thanks to a perfect conference mark of 7-0, UCF has already earned at least a share of the first- ever AAC Championship, but a win this weekend would put the Knights into a BCS game for the first time in program history.

Actually, the Knights have a chance to lock up a BCS appearance as early as Thursday if the Louisville Cardinals take down the Cincinnati Bearcats, but UCF is intent of controlling its own destiny.

"Our concern is SMU and winning the game. That's why we're playing," said UCF head coach George O'Leary. "Thursday could be great for us or it doesn't change anything. We have to win the game Saturday and that's how we're looking at it."

As for the Mustangs, they had a chance to make themselves bowl eligible last weekend for the fifth straight year, but the team was stopped in its tracks by the Houston Cougars in a 34-0 shutout. Not only did the decision snap a brief two-game win streak for SMU, it also marked the first time since 2004 that the team was held scoreless.

"Not good, a lot of things to work on," noted SMU's freshman quarterback Neal Burcham after his first start, "I'm always very critical of myself, and I have to do better."

As far as the all-time series is concerned, the Knights have taken four of the previous five meetings with SMU, including a 42-17 triumph in the most recent matchup last season at home.

Blake Bortles threw a 52-yard TD pass to Breshad Perriman with under five minutes remaining in regulation to put the Knights on top by three against USF last week, but it was an interception by Jordan Ozerities with just over a minute to play that sealed the win for UCF.

Bortles had his struggles as he converted 17-of-26 passes for 219 yards and two touchdowns, suffering three sacks and a pair of interceptions, yet his performance was still just enough to get the team over the hump. Because of the sacks, UCF finished with a net of only 77 rushing yards.

Keeping the team in contention the entire way was kicker Shawn Moffitt who knocked through all three of his field goal chances, rescuing a stalled UCF offense numerous times. Moffitt, a perfect 40-of-40 on PATs, has made all but one of his 20 field goal attempts this season.

When not calling on Moffitt to save the day, the UCF offense is riding the arm of Bortles who has converted an impressive 68.0 percent of his passes for 276.2 ypg and a total of 22 touchdowns, against just seven INTs. Second on the team with 36 catches, J.J. Worton has turned those opportunities into 617 yards and a team-best seven TDs.

Needing just 22 yards to reach 1,000 for the campaign, Storm Johnson takes the lead in the rushing game for the Knights with his 5.4 yards per attempt and 11 TDs.

Hard to believe that the SMU offense came up empty against the Cougars last week, even as the unit ran 86 plays, 14 more than Houston. It certainly didn't hurt the Mustangs that they were flagged 10 times for 90 yards either, but there was more to the loss than just penalties.

The team was operating without quarterback Garrett Gilbert who was forced to the sidelines with a knee injury and is again listed as questionable for the final regular-season game as well. In his place, Burcham converted 27-of-52 passes for 212 yards, but he was sacked five times and tossed three interceptions.

Darius Joseph tallied a game-high nine catches for 52 yards and Jeremy Johnson turned his eight grabs into 75 yards, but because Burcham was taken down in the backfield so many times, the Mustangs were left with just 83 net rushing yards.

"We just didn't execute on both sides of the ball," linebacker/running back Kevin Pope said of the defeat at Houston. "We'll go back to the drawing board, and get it together. We'll come together as a team, keep our heads up, and we'll be fine."

The SMU passing offense currently ranks seventh in the nation with 351.1 ypg, but if Gilbert is not ready to go again then throwing Burcham into the fire is the only option. Unfortunately, the rushing attack for the team really can't help all that much as it averages a mere 95.2 ypg (116th), but that's long been the case with teams coached by June Jones.

Unfortunately for the Mustangs, the pressure is all on them this weekend and having to deal with possibly starting an inexperienced quarterback doesn't help matters. Expect the Knights to put it all on the line Saturday, even if their fate is already sealed Thursday night.

Sports Network Predicted Outcome: UCF 41, SMU 17

12/04 10:42:58 ET

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Scoreboard
Local
Final
UVA 27
UNC 28
Final
NCCU 42
SAVST 14
 
1:00pm Today
CAR
SEA
Final
SFG 11
KAN 4
8:07pm Tonight
SFG
KAN
 
Final
WISC 52
MD 7
Final
SMU 10
MEM 48
Final
ILL 28
MINN 24
Final
RICE 41
UNT 21
Final
NEB 42
RUTG 24
Final
KST 23
TEX 0
Final
ARK 45
UAB 17
Final
UVA 27
UNC 28
Final
EMICH 17
NILL 28
Final
NAVY 41
SJST 31
Final
BST 35
AKR 21
Final
GASTATE 31
GASO 69
Final
TOL 42
UMASS 35
Final
WMICH 42
OHIO 21
Final
COL 37
UCLA 40
Final
UMO 10
KSU 3
Final
WAKE 17
BC 23
Final
BUF 14
CMICH 20
Final
MARS 35
FATL 16
Final
PITT 28
GT 56
Final
SMISS 20
LATU 31
Final
MSU 35
MICH 11
Final
KENT 31
MSST 45
Final
STAN 38
ORST 14
Final
TCU 82
TTU 27
Final
OKST 10
WVU 34
Final
WKENT 66
ODU 51
Final
UTST 34
UNLV 20
Final
MIZZ 24
VANDY 14
Final
UCF 34
TEMPL 14
Final
WASU 37
ARZ 59
Final
CLEM 16
SYR 6
Final
LAMON 18
TXST 22
Final
TXSANANTO 0
UTEP 34
Final
COLST 45
WYO 31
Final
LSU 10
MISS 7
Final
TENN 20
ALA 34
Final
AUB 42
SCAR 35
Final
PSU 24
OSU 31
 
Final
UTAH 24
USC 21
 
4th
WASH 7
ARST 10
 
Half
HAW 10
NEV 6
 
Final
SJS 1
BUF 2
Final
TOR 1
BOS 4
Final
NYI 7
DAL 5
Final
PHI 4
DET 2
Final
OTT 2
NJD 3
Final
MON 3
NYR 1
Final
STL 3
CHI 2
Final
NAS 0
PIT 3
Final
MIN 7
TAM 2
Final
ARI 2
FLA 1
Final
CAL 1
WAS 3
3:00pm Today
WIN
COL
 
4:00pm Today
LOS
CLB
 
7:00pm Tonight
CHI
OTT
 
8:00pm Tonight
ANA
SJS
 
9:30pm Tonight
VAN
WAS
 
9:30am Today
ATL
DET
1:00pm Today
CIN
BAL
1:00pm Today
NYJ
BUF
1:00pm Today
NEP
CHI
1:00pm Today
TEN
HOU
1:00pm Today
JAC
MIA
1:00pm Today
TAM
MIN
1:00pm Today
CAR
SEA
1:00pm Today
KAN
STL
4:05pm Today
ARI
PHI
4:25pm Today
PIT
IND
4:25pm Today
CLE
OAK
8:30pm Tonight
NOS
GBP
Final
NCCU 42
SAVST 14