The Scarlet Knights meet the Golden Knights. Sounds more like a jousting tournament.
The 2nd edition of this postseason affair features a pair of teams that went 8-4 after the inaugural game hosted USF (7-5) and Memphis (6-6). Despite drawing the local Bulls to last year's game, the bowl fell far short of sell-out status. Perhaps, UCF fans will be more eager to make the short trek from Orlando. If not, the presence of Rutgers should be a benefit.
This game is played at Tropicana Field, home of Major League Baseball's Tampa Bay Rays.
UCF is playing in its third bowl game since becoming a 1-A (FBS) football program in 1996. Including this season, the Golden Knights have played in a bowl in each of the last three odd-numbered years.
Rutgers is making just its sixth bowl appearance in its 140-year history, but is on a 5-year bowl streak. The Scarlet Knights have emerged victorious in their last three postseason games to improve their overall bowl record to 3-2. UCF (0-2) is looking for its first-ever bowl victory.
The Golden Knights finished 2nd in CUSA's east division with a 6-2 league mark. Rutgers was 4th in the Big East, winning just 3 of its 7 conference games.
UCF made it this far with a great deal of thanks owed to a run defense that allowed just 990 yards all season. THat unit held eight opponents to no more than 86 yards on the ground to rank No. 4 nationally in that department. The pass defense, however, ranks 112th.
UCF's offense ranks just 84th nationally, 10th in the 12-team CUSA, despite having a 1,000-yard runner in sophomore Brynn Harvey (1,077 yards, 14 TD's).
Statistically, Rutgers is fairly similar. The offense ranks 99th overall, even though Tim Brown is a 1,000-yard receiver (1,051, 8 TD's) and RB Joe Martinek is just 7 yards shy of 1,000. The defense ranks 19th overall, but 41st against the pass.
This is the first meeting between the two schools. UCF's only win against a school from one of the Big 6 conferences came in 2000 when it upset Alabama 40-38 in a year when the Tide was an uncharacteristic 3-8.