There are only two Group 5 teams in the college football playoff standings, and those two teams will square off this weekend when the #22 UCF Golden Knights head west to take on the #17 Tulane Green Wave.
The winner puts himself in great position to earn an appearance in the New Year’s Six Bowl.
Where: Yulman Stadium (New Orleans, La.)
When: 3:30 p.m. ET
Line: Tulane -1.5, O/U 54.5
IB has broken down the game and is ready to make predictions.
BRYAN DRISKELL, EDITOR
Prediction: Tulane 30, UCF 27
It’s a battle of two very even teams. Both are quality attacks, but it’s the defense that has helped both teams improve in 2022. Both teams rank in the top 20 in scoring defense, which is why I think my score prediction might even have a few too many points.
Gus Malzahn is building a quality program at UCF, and doing it differently than we’ve seen in the past. It’s not a high-octane attack like it was under Josh Huepel and Scott Frost. Instead, this is a more balanced team that can make saves as well. Tulane’s defense has come a long way over the past year, and they’ve allowed 20 or more points only four times this season.
UCF was a bit vulnerable in the air, and that’s where I see the margin in this game. Not only do I like the Tulane quarterback Michael Pratt more than UCF John Rhys Plumlee, I think Pratt fits UCF high school better than the other way around. In the end, Pratt and Tulane’s defense will prevail.
RYAN ROBERTS, RECRUITMENT DIRECTOR
Prediction: UCF 28, Tulane 24
Tulane is having a magical season. They are led by the quarterback Michael Pratt and a tough defense will have several standout defenders. They’re opposed by a UCF attack that’s powerful when the going gets going.
It’s the Golden Knights making just a few more plays than Tulane in this one. Pay attention to the star slot receiver Ryan O’Keefe in this game.
Prediction: Tulane 28, UCF 27
This could be the battle for the NY6 bowl and a chance to play in the Cotton Bowl as a non-P5 team to face a general offer (Notre Dame anyone?) Tulane has a good shot at that, especially at home, and I know they’re Bryan’s darlings this season. It’s pretty much a pick-em at this point, so I’ll take the green wave in this one.
SHAUN DAVIS, RECRUITMENT ANALYST
Prediction: Tulane 38, UCF 31
I’m not shocked at Tulane’s success this season. They went on the run against Oklahoma last season and showed the residue of an offense that had the potential to be explosive. Meanwhile, Gus Malzahn continues to build the UCF program and the key to this game will be which defensive unit can create more saves and turnovers.
SEAN STIRES, WRITER
Prediction: UCF 35, Tulane 32
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It’s been a minute since UCF caught our eye, but the Knights are ranked and have a chance to knock Tulane out of any NY6 conversation. UCF Quarterback John Rhys Plumlee has three 100-yard rushing games and four 300-yard passing games with 18 total touchdowns.
ANDREW McDONOUGH, IB CONTRIBUTOR
Prediction: Tulane 28, UCF 20
The winner of this game has the inside route to the American Conference title game and the automatic best-of-five bid for the New Years Six. This is an intriguing, good versus good matchup that pits the AAC’s best offense (UCF) against the best defense (Tulane).
The green wave hasn’t been a particularly disruptive defense, but has made a living playing when it needed to. Tulane ranks first in the conference, allowing just 32.1% third conversions, second in TD percentage from opponent’s red zone (44.4%), and second in turnover margin (+ 4). Playing New Orleans in the Green Wave’s biggest home game in at least a generation, the game will come down to turnovers. UCF ranks second to last in the AAC with a -5 turnover differential.
IB STAFF RANKING
Brian – 37-10
Ryan – 32-15
Vince – 30-17
Shaun – 29-18
Sean – 27-20
Andrew – 26-21
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