UCF will take on No. 8 Louisville today in a must-win if the Knights want a shot at the highly-coveted BCS automatic-qualifying bid. Here's five things to watch for in tonight's game, which will be televised on ESPN at 8 p.m.
As I wrote earlier this week, all eyes will be on UCF's Blake Bortles and Louisville's Teddy Bridgewater. The prime-time match up will feature two of the best junior quarterbacks in college football, and scouts will be tuned in. Bridgewater has the better stats across the board, but this will be a chance for the nation to see Bortles on display. His draft stock could soar if he plays well.
WILL PARKER PLAY?
Louisville has one of the most dangerous passing games in college football, and it's not just because of Bridgewater. He has a ton of weapons to throw to, but two of those could sit out against UCF, DeVante Parker (shoulder) and Kai De La Cruz (groin). Still, there's Damian Copeland the Knights will have to worry about.
TEDDY TO GO TOSS-HAPPY ON UCF'S SECONDARY?
We all know about UCF's young secondary, but they'll get their biggest test of the season tonight, especially with UCF's struggles in pass rush. Expect Bridgewater to test Clayton Geathers, Brandon Alexander and Jacoby Glenn and dare them to stop him from throwing the football.
TURNOVER BATTLE IS KEY
Louisville, and mainly Brigewater, doesn't make many mistakes, and the Knights are prone to feeding off those. UCF is plus-7 this season in turnover margin. The Cardinals will look to force the Knights to make mistakes. Whichever team wins the turnover battle could very well win the game.
PASS-RUSH CAN BE THE DIFFERENCE
Louisville put up a season-high eight sacks against Rutgers last Thursday. If UCF can't protect Bortles, this one could get ugly early. Cardinals DEs Lorenzo Mauldin and Marcus Smith will look to shake Bortles, but UCF's line has been solid over the last couple of games not allowing teams in the backfield. With Blake Keller no longer in the mix, who provides the pressure on Bridgewater?