The defending American Athletic Conference champions are on the verge of becoming just the 27th team in college football history to go on a winning streak of 25 or more games. But UCF must face one of their biggest rivals of the past few years, the one team that has really given the Knights fits in the past few years.
This will be the fourth time that UCF and Memphis meet on the football field in the past two years. Their first meeting, in September 2017, was the only blowout of the bunch as the Knights ran away for a 40-13 victory. The two teams met again in the 2017 AAC championship game in Orlando, as the Tigers pushed the Knights through two overtimes but ultimately fell 62-55 on the road. Then they met again in October this year. Memphis was ahead at the Liberty Bowl, but allowed UCF to come back in a 31-30 loss.
Memphis and UCF rank No. 6 and No. 8 respectively in scoring offense, as both teams average over 43 points per game. This year, however, UCF has a top-20 defense in points allowed, as they give up 10 fewer points on average than the Tigers have in 2018. Another barnburner could be in the cards.
But will we get another overtime game like we saw in last year’s AAC championship game? Here’s how you can watch the American Athletic Conference championship game on Saturday afternoon between Memphis and No. 8 UCF:
The one elephant in the room that has not yet been mentioned is the absence of McKenzie Milton. After his horrific injury in the War on I-4 against South Florida that ended his season, the Knights must turn to Darriel Mack Jr. to get the job done at quarterback. The freshman has completed less than half of his passing attempts so far this year, and he needs to put together a career-launching day against Memphis to keep the scoring machine on track.
The Tigers, meanwhile, have had issues with penalties this season. In their most recent defeat to the Knights, Memphis actually took five fewer penalties than UCF — yet still saw seven flags. They won’t come close to taking down the Knights this time if they continue to put sticks in their own spokes.
There is likely to be another shootout between the Tigers and the Knights when they meet again in Orlando. The two teams went to overtime last year, and they’ll go again this time. Mack will have a huge day at quarterback, throwing for 200 yards and running for 100 more. Greg McCrae will have another 100-yard day on the ground as well, dueling with Darrell Henderson and the rest of the Memphis backfield talent. We will probably see overtime once again, just like last year. And once again, for the 25th time in a row, UCF will leave the field victors.