Stanford at #17 UCF
When: Saturday, September 14 at 3:30 p.m. ET
Where: Spectrum Stadium in Orlando, FL
Central Florida claims to be one of the best programs in the country. They are coming in after two blowout wins to start their campaign. On the other side, Stanford enters following a big loss to USC last weekend. Both squads have high expectations for this season, and this game will be telling of their fortunes.
The Stanford offense is led by senior quarterback K.J. Costello and redshirt senior running back Cameron Scarlett. Costello started the opener and threw for 152 yards and a touchdown. He missed the USC game with a head injury but is expected to start Saturday. Costello will likely hear his name called later in the 2020 NFL Draft and has a real chance to play in the NFL. Scarlett sat behind Bryce Love for a few seasons but is ready to take over as a lead back for the Cardinal. He has 18 career touchdown carries. Left tackle Walker Little projects to be a first or second-round draft pick in April as well. Tight end Colby Parkinson is one of the best at his position as well. Stanford is one of the tight end pipelines, so his NFL future is imminent.
The Cardinal defense has a few players that the NFL will keep an eye on also. Jordan Fox and Casey Toohill play outside linebacker. Both are names to watch. The prize of the defense, and arguably the draft, is cornerback Paulson Adebo. Adebo is my top-ranked cornerback as it stands right now. He is an elite playmaker with long arms, great instincts, and a knack for finding the football.
The Knights lost quarterback McKenzie Milton at the end of last season to a gruesome injury. Notre Dame transfer Brandon Wimbush has since taken over but faces a tough task in Stanford. He lost a 2017 meeting against Stanford as the Notre Dame starter and hopes to play better this time. In 2017, Wimbush completed just 11 of 28 passes for 249 yards, two touchdowns, and two interceptions. Running backs Greg McCrae and Adrian Killins have split carries so far this season with great success. McCrae had 24 carries for 149 yards and two touchdowns. Killins has 23 carries for 143 yards and two touchdowns. He has also added a 74-yard touchdown reception.
Defensively, UCF is recovering from losing some stars of recent years. The name to watch is safety Richie Grant. Grant is a speedy back-end player with a bit of upside, but his consistency has been difficult to watch. He struggles in the run game and is far from an excellent tackler, but his ball skills are worth monitoring. He intercepted six passes last season.