5. UCF Knights
Rank: 18 | Opponent: Cincinnati Bearcats | Time: Friday, Oct. 4, 8:00 p.m. ET
When everyone was ready to crown the UCF Knights as a viable College Football Playoff contender this season, they laid their first regular-season dud since the 2016 season, falling to the Pittsburgh Panthers. However, I don’t believe that people should overreact to that game too much. This is still one of the most talented and explosive offensive teams in the entire country that should be able to put up points against anyone.
Having said that, my belief in this team doesn’t mean that they don’t have to prove themselves still. Their wins over Florida A&M, Florida Atlantic, a beat-up Stanford team and then UConn don’t speak too much to how they’re going to fare against the best teams that they play on their schedule — and perhaps the loss to Pittsburgh is actually indicative of that. This all makes a trip north to play the Cincinnati Bearcats a bit intriguing.
Entering this game at 3-1, the Bearcats have been impressive in every instance that hasn’t involved them playing a juggernaut Ohio State team, a game in which they lost 42-0. In their three wins over UCLA, Miami-Ohio and Marshall, though, the Bearcats have averaged 37 points per game while conceding only 13.7 points per contest.
Cincinnati should have the ability to put points up on the Knights defense, especially playing at home on Friday night. The Friday night game can’t be overlooked either as weird things tend to happen in these games. And if the Bearcats defense is able to at least put up a fight and make some splash plays against Dillon Gabriel and UCF, they have the tools to knock off the No. 18 team in the country.