No. 8 UCF is back in the American Athletic Conference championship today when they face a similar opponent. The Knights faces Memphis in a critical game as UCF needs the victory to give them one last bit of hope when it comes to possibly making a case for getting into the College Football Playoff.

That’ll be no easy task for a Knights team that will be without quarterback McKenzie Milton, who suffered a gruesome knee injury last week in UCF’s blowout victory over rival USF. Freshman Darriel Mack Jr. will get his second start of the season and it couldn’t have come at a more critical juncture.

The Knights get the opportunity to play for consecutive AAC championships and a win guarantees that UCF will be playing in a New Year’s Six bowl, likely the Fiesta Bowl according to many analysts around the country. Could UCF sneak into the CFP? Today’s result will have a lot to do with that. We take a look at some of the keys to today’s game.

Mack Jr. must play a clean game 

The freshman signal caller can’t try and emulate Milton’s game at all, as that strategy could backfire to the highest extent. Mack Jr. is more of a threat running the football at this point and has to make plays with his legs. Limit any and all mistakes and the freshman will do fine.

Rely on the run game

UCF’s run game is what helped get them here and that’s what they should mainly rely upon offensively. The backfield trio of Greg McCrae, Adrian Killins Jr. and Taj McGowan have been solid and could be the main factors in today’s game.

Feed off of the sellout crowd 

When in doubt, feed off the fan base. UCF faces Memphis in a game that could come down to the wire. The fans have been coming all season long to Spectrum Stadium, so they’ll be making it a hostile environment for the Tigers this afternoon.

About The Author

Andy Villamarzo has covered high school and youth sports for the Tampa Bay Times and The Tampa Tribune as a correspondent since 2008. He is a native of Holiday, FL, who graduated from Gulf High School and studied at St. Petersburg College. He has covered various prep, collegiate and professional athletes throughout his writing career, including Josh Johnson (Jacksonville Jaguars), Patrick Schuster (Arizona Diamondbacks) and currently writes for other publications like The Suncoast News, Friday Night Football Magazine and TopDrawerSoccer.com.

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