ORLANDO (CBSMiami) – When Florida International University and the University of Central Florida met last year, FIU pounded the UCF offensive line for six sacks and escaped with a 17-10 victory. This year, UCF is looking for revenge.
“Last year was a game that we did nothing offensively,” UCF head coach George O’Leary said. “Defensively we did enough to win the game, but you can’t give up six sacks. We didn’t play well on special teams either. We get another opportunity this Saturday to face them and we are working hard to get things right.”
FIU is coming off a thrilling overtime victory over the Zips of Akron, now coached by Terry Bowden. FIU won 41-38 in their home opener over Akron after getting blown out in the opening game of the year against Duke.
Last year’s FIU victory over UCF propelled the Panthers to an 8-5 record and a second-straight bowl game. UCF followed the game with more losses and finished last season with a 5-7 record.
But, UCF traveled to Ohio State last weekend and gave the Buckeyes everything they could handle. While UCF came up short in the end, the Golden Knights looked like a completely different team in Columbus.
“I mean, leading up to the game, we prepared hard and all that. Then as the game went on, I think we lost track of focus and what was the goal and what we needed to get done,” UCF receiver Quincy McDuffie said.
UCF will be short-handed offensively with senior running back Latavius Murray missing his second straight game with a bruised shoulder. UCF will have a bye week next week and O’Leary hopes Murray will be back in time for the Knights’ home game against the SEC’s Missouri Tigers.
FIU lost two key skill position players last year, most notably T.Y. Hilton. But FIU’s defense returned eight starters and 10 players for a squad that ranked 14th in points allowed last season. This season, the defense has been mauled by Duke and Akron, giving up a total of 84 points.
“When we’re playing good, we’re playing good,” FIU coach Mario Cristobal said. “But we can certainly tighten up on some things from a coverage standpoint and create better angles for ourselves and play the ball better. A lot of times when opportunity’s in our hands, we gotta capitalize. We gotta get our team off the field.”
FIU is scoring 33.5 points per game and averaging 477 yards of total offense. FIU’s defense is giving up 42 points per game and 415 yards of total offense. UCF’s defense is only giving up 22.5 points per game this season.
FIU will play at UCF with kickoff scheduled for 4 p.m. and the game can be seen on Comcast Sports Southeast (CSS).
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