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September 27, 2013

Five predictions for the UCF game

South Carolina faces Central Florida in the second road contest of the still young 2013 season. Here are five predictions for the first meeting between the Gamecocks and Knights in Orlando.

1. Mike Davis Will Rush For At Least 125 Yards: Davis has opened eyes around the SEC with a solid start to his sophomore season. He is fourth in the SEC in rushing at 113.7 yards per game, averaging 7.6 yards per carry. Running behind an offensive line that is bigger and stronger than the UCF defensive front, Davis should have one of his best games of the season. Remember, he had 149 yards at Georgia. Don't be surprised if he surpasses that figure on Saturday. Another 75-yard run? Perhaps.

2. Connor Shaw will have more passing yards than UCF quarterback Blake Bortles: Bortles is an outstanding quarterback, but he will face the most talented defense he has seen in his career on Saturday, certainly along the defensive front. Will the UCF offensive line be able to keep Jadeveon Clowney and Chaz Sutton out of the backfield? Doubtful. It won't take long for Bortles to figure out he isn't facing Akron or FIU, teams the Knights trounced earlier this season. Shaw, meanwhile, has played well in the first three games with rarely a bad throw. He has six touchdown passes, zero interceptions and a 64.9 completion percentage.

3. USC will lead by at least 10 points at halftime: USC has been first half demons all season, scoring 72 of its 92 total points in the opening 30 minutes. The Gamecocks executed flawlessly in the first 25 minutes of the Vanderbilt game, jumping out to a 28-0 lead until an interception turned momentum in the Commodores' favor. In the opener, USC led, 17-0, after the first quarter and cruised to the victory over UNC. Even in the Georgia game, the Gamecocks scored 24 points in the first half, matching the UGA offense point-for-point. UCF has scored 69 of its 110 points in the first half, but USC should assert its physical dominance early and limit its scoring chances.

4. USC will win the turnover battle by plus-two or more: UCF has committed just one turnover in three games, so it knows how to hang onto the football. Bortles had his school record streak of 232 straight passes without an interception snapped two weeks ago at Penn State. UCF has fumbled three times without losing it. I believe the USC defense will come out and set an aggressive tone early by attacking Bortles relentlessly. They know he can't get comfortable in the pocket. They will knock the ball from Bortles' grasp at least once and intercept a pass or two before the fourth quarter clock hits zeroes.

5. Mickey Mouse will sing the National Anthem: Hey, we're in Orlando, right? Why not have the most famous resident of the most famous entertainment capital in the world handle the pre-game honors. Hey, he couldn't be any worse than Carl Lewis or Rosanne Barr, right? He might actually be pretty good. I just hope he is able to hit the high notes. We'll see.

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