One of Georgia Tech Football’s tougher opponents in 2020 will be Group of 5 power, the UCF Knights of the AAC.
After being the Group of Five standard in 2017 and 2018, the UCF Knights look to reclaim their spot atop the G5 in 2020.
Over the course of the 2017 and 2018 seasons, there were not many teams in Group of Five history that were as good as the UCF Knights. The Knights over those two seasons went 25-1 and would’ve given almost any team in the country a battle. Last season, however, the Knights took a “step back” and finished the season 10-3. In 2020, however, the Knights could very well be taking back their spot atop not just the ACC but the Group of Five.
Last season, the Knights got off to a great start at 3-0 which included a win over Stanford in Orlando. In week four, however, the Knights were upset at the hands of the Pittsburgh Panthers 35-34, delivering them just their second loss in 30 games. They’d pick up a win over Connecticut the next week but just one week later, the Cincinnati Bearcats took down the Knights 27-24. Following the loss to Cincy, the Knights would lose their top-25 ranking, marking the first time since week of five of 2017 that they were not in the top-25. After their second loss, they’d pick up three victories over East Carolina, Temple, and Houston but would falter again in a close 34-31 loss on the road against Tulsa. They would finish the season on a strong note, however, picking up wins over Tulane, South Florida, and Marshall to finish the season at 10-3.
Key Losses: WR Gabriel Davis, LB Nate Evans
The Knights really didn’t lose too much after last season with their biggest losses being wide receiver Gabriel Davis and linebacker Nate Evans. Davis, who finished last season with 72 receptions for 1,241-yards and 12 touchdowns, by far their best receiver last season and the best receiver in the ACC. Evans, on the other hand, was the Knights leading tackler from last season, racking up 112-tackles including 13 tackles for a loss and one sack.
Key Returners: QB Dillon Gabriel, WR Tre Nixon, S Antwan Collier
There’s plenty of players we could’ve put in the key returner category but ultimately went with the three you see above. Gabriel as a freshman quarterback last year had himself a strong season, throwing for 3,653-yards and 29 touchdowns while completing just under 60% of his passes and throwing seven interceptions. It will be scary to see what he can do in 2020.
Nixon, a former Ole Miss Rebel will become UCF’s top receiving target this season after recording 49 receptions for 830-yards and seven touchdowns last season. Collier returns as a ballhawk in the secondary, the senior safety returns in 2020 after recording 74 tackles and four interceptions last season.
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Overall, this UCF team is going to be pretty good again in 2020 and they’ll be among the best Group of Five programs in the country. Their offense should be among the highest scoring offenses after putting up 43.4 points per game a season ago and their defense should be just as good, if not improved with returning most of their starters from last season. They’ll give the Jackets a tough game and while there’s a rather high chance the Jackets end up losing to UCF, there is also path to victory for Geoff Collins and his Yellow Jackets.