Thursday, November 18, 2010

Prediction Thursday- UCF

Of all the teams in C-USA, UCF seems the most anonymous. Tulane has only played this team once since Chris Scelfo left- which, I think we can all agree, seems like an eon ago. It was a desultory, 10-9 win in an empty Dome that made a lot of people mad because victory made firing the coach harder.... an atmosphere we can totally recreate Saturday!

That single game in the Toledo "era" was last year’s rout. Coach Toledo has given us many, many low points- but that whipping last year was perhaps the lowest. I ranted:
This is embarrassing- this display in Florida. I’ve never been ashamed of Tulane- but this effort today... it is hard not to be furious.

I remember those Toledo-nauts belittling the doubters- “Coach Toledo is teaching Tulane how to win”. Remember that ‘nauts!? Well, he sure as heck taught them to quit. Toledo is a joke.

Quitters. Quit on their school, fans, coach and families.

We fans don't quit. We send money, attend repeated ruthless beatings... and this "performance" is the result. Are you kidding me Toledo?

UCF is not 50 points better than Tulane. Period. It takes laying down like dogs to get beat like that by this mediocre C-USA outfit.
Perhaps colored by that beating, the New York Post generously puts UCF -17 over Tulane this morning.

This line has seesawed all over the place, jumping between 15 to 20 markers, largely due to the unknown status of Tulane’s improving quarterback Ryan Griffin. Consequently, one has to make that determination first, and I am supposing that Ryan Griffin won’t play.

Which sort of pushed this game out of the realm of an x’s and o’s question to a psychological test: can Tulane put together the sort of effort required to hang around here?

I’m not encouraged. Frankly, the Rice win was not the mark of anything resembling momentum or improvement. There was nothing there indicative of football things that Tulane could recreate routinely in the absence of the Rice Owls: the impact wide receivers, the numerous turnovers. The two remaining late season story lines emerging are not encouraging: the wide outs aren’t very good and the defense looks increasingly worn down. Let's remember the meltdown in the second half versus SMU and the astonishing 95 points scored on the Wave the last two games.

Last week loss to Southern Miss aside, UCF is the class of the League this year. Unfortunately, the Knights also tons to play for here- which equates to good effort and scoring the ball. QB Jeff Godfrey is one of the top true freshmen in the whole country- and my pick as newcomer of the year in C-USA. He is one of those distribution quarterbacks (65% pass completion percentage) who is mobile (505 yards rushing) that make Tulane’s slow perimeter defenders look so terrible.

Opposing skill players have been just outrunning the Wave’s OLBs and corners to the play- and Jeff Godfrey is a guy who can either throw to the seams and flats or carry it there himself (ed. note: he is also the shortest, smallest quarterback I've seen in awhile). Add in talented RB Ronnie Weaver as a nifty complementary option (12 carries-112 yards last week) who can also easily get outside and I simply can’t find any reason, any executable agenda, that suggests this week is where the Wave defense rebounds, holds a team under 40.

And I worry about the offense. Kevin Moore isn’t terrible at all- he is actually a very good option as a back-up goes. He's experienced (400+ career attempts, 14 TDs), seen the elephant, won’t be scared. But who is he going to throw to in this motley assortment of receivers? UCF is going to have tons of guys in the box, targeting Darkwa. It will be a hard road to 20 points.

Add in the requisite special teams disasters, return game follies and this is a game where Tulane figures to get drilled. The Wave has simply not handled prosperity well the past two years, losing every game by two scores or more after a win this year and featuring really poor play in 2009 losses to Rice and Marshall last year after the Wave's two FBS wins. Feels like a whipping again. I’ll take UCF -17 over Tulane in the attempt to run the ATS mark to 7-4.