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BYU had some quarterback issues this season and their offense suffered as a result. The Cougars rank 66th in the country in scoring at 29.2 points per game. Riley Nelson got the most playing time but completed less than 60% of his passes and had 13 touchdowns and 12 interceptions. James Lark started the season finale against New Mexico State and threw for 384 yards and 6 touchdowns. No matter who starts at quarterback, they will be throwing the ball to Cody Hoffman early and often. Hoffman had 90 catches this season for 1134 yards and 11 touchdowns.
The Aztecs rank 44th in the nation in scoring defense allowing 24.5 points per game. As a team, San Diego State has 31 sacks and 11 interceptions. Cornerback Leon McFadden is a shut down corner, and I expect him to be faced with the task of covering Cody Hoffman.
A lot is made of coaching trees in college football. In this case, Mendenhall is a leaf off the Long tree. From 1998 to 2001 Mendenhall was the defensive coordinator at New Mexico, and he also coached the defensive backs. In 2002 he added the assistant head coach title to his responsibilities. His head coach that whole time was Long. Mendenhall has, in many ways, gone on to exceed his mentor, but they share similar philosophies and foundations — especially in defensive approach. It’s unlikely that either coach will be able to totally surprise their opponent. That means that execution is going to be more important than ever in this one. The team that is more prepared and more focused will win because game planning won’t save the less-focused team.
Ball St is 0-5 all-time in bowl games. The Cardinals lost to Tulsa 45-13 in the 2009 GMAC Bowl in their last bowl appearance. Central Florida is 1-3 all-time in bowls, all since 2005. The Knights beat Georgia 10-6 in the 2010 Liberty Bowl.
Seniors for the Central Florida Knights have accomplished a lot this season, but want to add a bowl win to the list. Two players, kick returner and wide receiver Quincy McDuffie and defensive back Kemal Ishmael were named special teams and defensive players of the year in Conference USA respectively. Three other seniors, running back Latavius Murray, offensive lineman Jordan Rae and defensive lineman Troy Davis were all named first-team all-conference.
Central Florida is coached by George O’Leary. The Knights won the Conference USA Eastern Division but lost to Tulsa 33-27 in overtime in the C-USA Championship Game at Tulsa. It was the second loss in 3 weeks for UCF at Tulsa as the Golden Hurricane won 23-21 in the regular season. The Knights also have losses at Ohio St 31-16 and at home against Missouri 21-16. UCF has home wins over Florida International 33-20, East Carolina 40-20, Southern Miss 38-31 in overtime, SMU 42-17, and UAB 49-24, along with road wins at Akron 56-14, Memphis 35-17, Marshall 54-17, and UTEP 31-24. UCF is 6-7 ATS and the total is 10-3 this season.
Ball St is coached by Pete Lembo. The Cardinals have won 6 straight games and finished tied with Toledo for second place in the MAC West Division. Ball St has losses at Clemson 52-27 and Kent St 45-43, and at home against Northern Illinois 35-23. All are bowl teams. The Cardinals have home wins over Eastern Michigan 37-26, South Florida 31-27, Western Michigan 30-24 in overtime, and Ohio 52-27, along with road wins at Indiana 41-39, Central Michigan 41-30, Army 30-22, Toledo 34-27 and at Miami-(Ohio) 31-24 to close out the regular season. Ball St is 9-3 ATS and the total is 6-5-1 this season.
Ball St. surpassed 30 points in 10 of 12 games while Central Florida went over 30 points on offense in nine of 13 games.
Ball St. is 6-0 ATS in its last six games coming off a conference win by seven points or less. Central Florida is 1-10 ATS in its last 11 games after allowing less than 170 yards passing in its previous game.
UCF has sold 4,100 of its 8,000-ticket allotment to the Beef ‘O’ Brady’s Bowl, according to Zack Lassiter, the senior associate athletic director for external operations at UCF.
In the school’s last trip to the same bowl, then called the St. Petersburg Bowl, in 2009, it allocated 15,402 tickets for the game. UCF also sold out it’s full alottment of 10,000 tickets to the Liberty Bowl in 2007. One report indicated UCF sold “more than half” of it’s 10,000 ticket allotment to the 2010 Liberty Bowl.
It’s interesting to note that the Knights have faced extreme tempo offenses like that of Ball State’s four times this season and in all four instances they held the opponent to 27 points or less in regulation (average 22.5 per game).
The total in the game is 61.5 points, a number the Knights met in four of their 13 games, while the Cardinals combined with opponents to meet score at least that many points six times. The two offense are well matched, with the Cardinals averaging 35 points per game while the Knights average 35.2. The UCF defense gives up an average of 22.5 points per game, compared to 31.5 for Ball State.