The last time UCF quarterback Justin Holman met East Carolina, his Hail Mary pass fell into the hands of Breshad Perriman with time expiring to give the Knights a share of the American Athletic Conference title. A few weeks shy of a year later, Holman tries to lead UCF to its first victory of the season in its 11th attempt when the Pirates pay a visit Thursday night.
The Knights have struggled with injuries – including Holman – and turnovers (28) while successful head coach George O’Leary announced his retirement after eight games. UCF looks to find its best form and spoil East Carolina’s chance to reach its ninth bowl game in 10 years before taking on USF in its finale. The Pirates have dropped three straight with their talented offense producing just 14.7 points per contest and need to win their final two – including a home game against Cincinnati on Nov. 28 – to become bowl eligible. East Carolina coach Ruffin McNeill told reporters he is going back a two-quarterback system with Blake Kemp and James Summers, who have both put up good numbers.
TV: 7:30 p.m. ET, ESPN.
LINE HISTORY: East Carolina opened as 15-point road favorites and have stayed there. The total as also stayed put at its opening number of 54.5.
East Carolina – OL D. Levingston (out indefinitely, shoulder), OL C. matau (out for season, undisclosed), WR J. Williams (out indefinitely, ankle), LB J. Beavers (out indefinitely, knee), QB K. Benkert (out for season, knee).
Central Florida – OL J. Grant (out for season, shoulder), WR J. Akins (out for season, knee), DL D. Anderson (out for season, knee), DB C. Williams (out indefinitely, arm).
WEATHER REPORT: Temperatures will be in the low 70’s and there is a 60 percent chance of rain around kickoff. There will also be a five mile per hour wind blowing towards the southern end zone.
ABOUT EAST CAROLINA (4-6, 4-6 ATS, 5-5 O/U): Summers has rushed for 443 yards and thrown for 673 while Kemp has completed 69.8 percent of his passes with 11 touchdowns and 10 interceptions, averaging 208.7 yards through the air. Receiver Isaiah Jones (72 catches, 794 yards, three TDs) and tight end Bryce Williams (47, 502, three) provide two top targets. Linebacker Zeek Bigger leads the way with 81 tackles for a defense which boasts 24 sacks – 7.5 by linebacker Montese Overton.
ABOUT UCF (0-6, 2-8 ATS, 5-4-1 O/U): One of the bright lights in this season has been the emergence of freshman Tre’Quan Smith as a receiving threat for an offense that stands last in the AAC in several categories. Smith (41 receptions, 572 yards, three TDs) needs one catch and 13 receiving yards to set freshman records in both categories. Holman threw for 23 scores in 2014 but has struggled as a junior while recording only six TD passes to go along with 11 interceptions, and the Knights have allowed 156 points in the last three games.
* Over is 4-0 in the last four meetings.
* East Carolina is 1-5 ATS in the last six meetings.
* Under is 4-0 in East Carolina’s last four games overall.
* Central Florida is 0-5 ATS in their last five home games.
COVERS CONSENSUS: The public is backing UCF, despite just covering twice all year, with 56 percent of wagers on the Knights. Fifty-nine percent of wagers are on the over.