January 25, 2022
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Matchup Preview: Tulane vs UCF

The Tulane Green Wave (6-4) are back home this weekend against the UCF Knights (7-3) and will kickoff at 11 AM CT on CBS Sports Network. 

Tulane is coming off a 21-29 road loss to the Temple Owls, while UCF comes into Yulman following a 31-34 loss against the Tulsa Golden Hurricanes two weeks ago. Most sources around the country favor UCF over Tulane by a 6-points to a touchdown, with ESPN’s Football Power Index Matchup Predictor giving the Knights a 74% chance of victory over the Green Wave. 

For Tulane to find success against UCF, the number one priority for the Wave is to find away to slow down UCF’s Dillon Gabriel. Gabriel is by far the best quarterback the Green Wave will have faced all year. At 2,806 yards passing to 24 touchdowns, Gabriel will challenge the Tulane secondary more-so than what they have seen all season long. Thakarius Keyes and PJ Hall are both coming off a great game against Temple last week, and will need to continue to find success if they hope to stop one of the nation’s best wide receivers in Gabriel Davis. Davis currently sits at 59 receptions on the year for 1,060 yards with 10 receiving touchdowns. With Gabriel and Davis, UCF will be the most prolific offense Tulane will have faced all year long. The Green Wave defense must play its best game of the season if it expects to keep the undefeated home record alive. 

Taking a look inside the numbers, the UCF offense is currently averaging 541 yards per contest. In contrast the Green Wave are netting around 460 ypg. UCF, as previously inferred, mainly gets their offensive production through the air, averaging 321 passing yards per game. The Knights are no slouch running the ball either, averaging over 200 on the ground at 220.2 per game, mainly behind workhorse back Otis Anderson. Anderson has 609 yards on 99 attempts (6.2 per carry) with 4 touchdowns and a long of 54 yards. Along with being a threat as a rusher, watch for Anderson to get a few potential targets through the air, however it is unlikely he will be much of a receiving threat, only being targeted 18 times per year but accounting for 2 receiving touchdowns.

Defensively, UCF has been extremely good all season long, allowing under 350 yards on average per contest (348.6 ypg). Looking at the rush and pass, the Knight defense gives up only 210 yards per game through the air, while holding opponents to 138 yards rushing per contest. Tulane and offensive coordinator Will Hall must continue to find ways to be creative offensively if the Wave hope to find success against this Knight defense. This means getting the Green Wave committee of backs involved, and involved early. As good as the UCF defense is, the offense is better, and slinging together, long, methodical drives for Justin McMillan and the Tulane offense may be the best way to survive their last home contest of the season. It is vital that Tulane keep the ball out of Gabriel’s hands for as long as possible. Perhaps this game, more than any other all year, the rushing attack for Tulane absolutely must control time of possession, while giving the Wave defense the required time to rest against one of the nation’s most effective offenses.