Friday, October 21, 2005

The Wave Will Swamp The Knights!

Today is Prediction Thursday. The official line of Prediction Thursday, the New York Post, has UCF -5.5 over Tulane- a line I find surprisingly robust.

Over the past two years, I have been kind of on a roll picking the Wave: 3-1 ATS this year, 5-0 outright- and 9-1 ATS last year. I realize that I’ve been lucky- but also I seem to have a handle on when Ricard will play well. And when I do- I grab Tulane without reservation.

I just have a gut feeling, really for the first time this year, that things might break the Wave’s way for a change. For example, after a few weeks where seemingly every intangible has gone against the Wave, this week that tide has changed. UCF faces the short week, the changing schedule, the lack of routine, a physical opponent the week before- plus a Tulane outfit that ought to feature a little desperation.

Tulane has to play a little frantic here, drum up that emotion, right? This is the biggest swing game on the schedule so far- a game that can go either way. Losses to UTEP and Mississippi State were kind of free ones, but this one would hurt- move a winnable game into the loss column.

A Tulane win- and it is hard to see them not getting to six wins. A loss, well, 2-4 is a tough hole to climb out of. Desperate, right? I bet we see a lively Wave defense tonight. They’ve been playing loose already- and pretty well too- all year. Unlike the offense, they frankly seem like their having fun out there. They aren’t pressing. Add a little attitude, a little of that good “fear”- I bet they pitch their best game since Navy last year out there tomorrow night.

And I do think the offense is getting it together- finding the right mix of approach and players. Taking 10-12 snaps a game away from Forte sure didn't hurt. And Tulane really wasn’t bad on offense for most of the game against UTEP. In fact, they were pretty good for 40 minutes. The line isn’t as bad as most people seem to think. Okay, they were a disaster against Mississippi State- but played okay to pretty well against SMU and UTEP. Face it- the book on Ricard is get a hand in his face or he could utterly destroy you. So teams are going to send more guys than we can block consistently or successfully. There is going to be pressure on the quarterback. The onus is on Ricard tomorrow now- to read, react and throw it.

But there were good signs that Ricard was coming around the past two weeks. For large stretches of the UTEP game, Ricard looked a little consistent, a little confident. This UCF defense is more blockable than UTEP’s. Tulane will play an even cleaner and crisper game this time out. Consequently, I have a good feeling Ricard will be even more comfortable this week- and a comfortable Ricard is big trouble.

So- tremble- for the first time this year I like the Wave. They are going to score 24-28 in this spot- maybe even more. And I think our defense will keep the Knights’ total manageable. And I get 5.5 too? Put me on that train. I’ll take those points- in fact, Tulane wins outright- and ride the Wave.