UCF vs Duke prediction, game preview, odds, how to watch. Military Bowl Presented by Peraton, Wednesday, December 28
UCF vs Duke Military Bowl Presented by Peraton Prediction Game Preview
UCF vs Duke How To Watch
Date: Wednesday, December 28
Game Time: 2:00 ET
Venue: Navy-Marine Corps Memorial Stadium, Annapolis, MD
How To Watch: ESPN
Record: UCF (9-4), Duke (8-4)
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UCF vs Duke Military Bowl Presented by Peraton 5 Things To Know
– It’s been a while since Duke has made any sort of football noise. After three losing seasons, it’s back in the bowl mix with a strong winning season under first year head man Mike Elko.
The offense has been balanced, the defense has been good enough, and the team comes into this winning four of its last five games. The team isn’t missing much of anything compared to the regular season version, unlike …
– UCF is going to have to do some shuffling. The offense lost a slew of key receivers and parts from the defensive back seven, and QB John Rhys Plumlee is coming off a leg injury and is very, very questionable to go in this.
It was a good season for the Knights, but they came up short in the AAC Championship loss to Tulane and it wasn’t quite the dominant season to get back to a New Year’s Six game like they were hoping for. However, they’ve won nine games, they have a way of rising up in the moment, and …
– It’s UCF in a bowl game. Gus Malzahn’s bunch took down Florida in last year’s Gasparilla, and over the last several years the program has been large in good post-season performances. Malzahn, though, has been just okay in bowl games going 2-5 at Auburn before getting last year’s win over the Gators.
– Bowl games aren’t a regular thing for Duke. This is just the 15th in the program’s history, but after a rough start it’s been good when it gets to the post-season. It hasn’t been to a bowl since beating Temple in the 2018 Independence – the game that took Daniel Jones’ NFL stop up a few notches – but it won three straight after losing five in a row since the 1960 Cotton.
– We’re finally getting a Military Bowl again after the last two were canceled with COVID issues. Before that it was a bit of a rough run for the game over the 12 versions with just two decided by seven points or fewer.
Why UCF Will Win The Military Bowl Presented by Peraton
The Knights might be taking a hit to the passing game with the lost parts, but the running attack should still be able to get going from the start.
John Rhys Plumlee was the team’s most dangerous runner when it tried to take off, but RB Isaiah Bowser is good enough to take over if he can get into a groove. He didn’t have any monster games, but he was steady throughout the year.
Now he has to be a workhorse against the Duke defensive front. It’s been good against the run, but it has a rough time on third downs and has a bigger issue against teams that can throw.
Again, UCF probably isn’t going to get moving much through the air, but as long as it’s able to connect on the midrange throws – and get Bowser and the rotation of backs moving – the offense might be okay.
Against FBS teams, Duke is 0-4 when allowing more than 106 yards and 7-0 when allowing fewer. UCF ran for fewer than 130 just one in the loss to Navy, but …
Why Duke Will Win The Military Bowl Presented by Peraton
UCF really does have to get going on the ground, or else.
On the flip side of what happens when the Duke run defense doesn’t hold up against the running game is what happens when USC doesn’t run wild. It’s 0-3 when it doesn’t get to 160 yards and is 2-3 when it doesn’t come up with at least 250 yards – and 7-0 when it does.
Duke hasn’t allowed more than 217 all year.
The Blue Devils get the job done by controlling the clock, owning third downs, and dominating in the turnover battle. That’s going to be an issue for the other side.
UCF might have had the best offense in the American Athletic Conference, but it also had a big problem with turnovers with two or more in six of the last 11 games and seven in the last three.
Duke turned it over just ten times all season and was +14 on the year in turnover margin going 5-2 when coming up with two or more takeaways.