Scouting the Gamecocks' next opponent: Central Florida

nwhite@thestate.comSeptember 20, 2013 

Akron UCF Football

Central Florida quarterback Blake Bortles

JOHN RAOUX — AP

... GAME: USC at UCF, noon Saturday, Sept. 28 at Bright House Networks Stadium, Orlando

... RECORD: 3-0

... RANKING: Unranked

... SERIES: USC leads 3-0

LAST MEETING

The teams haven’t met since 2005, when the Gamecocks defeated the Knights 24-15 at Williams-Brice Stadium in Steve Spurrier’s first game as USC’s coach. Sophomore quarterback Blake Mitchell, who was making his first start, completed 18-of-23 passes for 330 yards and three touchdowns. He tossed scoring passes of 49 yards to Noah Whiteside, 12 yards to Andy Boyd, and 25 yards to Syvelle Newton to build a 24-3 lead after three quarters. The Knights rallied late, but the USC defense produced a key fourth-down stop with less than three minutes to play.

COACH

George O’Leary. In his 10th season coaching the Knights, O’Leary has compiled a 63-55 record and taken the program to five bowl games. He posted 10-win seasons in 2007 and 2012 and a career-best 11-win season in 2010. Before landing in Orlando, O’Leary coached Georgia Tech from 1994 to 2001, compiling a 52-33 record with five bowl appearances.

QUICK TAKE

Like the Gamecocks, the Knights will be coming off a bye week. UCF has started the season with a 3-0 record for the first time since 1988. The most recent win over Penn State was UCF’s first against a Big Ten program. This game against USC will mark the second straight season the Knights have hosted an SEC team after Missouri came to town in 2012. The last ranked non-conference opponent to visit Bright House Networks Stadium was No. 9 Miami in Oct. 2009, when the Hurricanes won before a stadium-record crowd of 48,453.

KNIGHT KNICK KNACKS

... UCF has posted a non-conference win over a BCS program in three of the last four seasons: Georgia in 2010, Boston College in 2011 and Penn State in 2013.

... The Knights have scored 34 points or more points in their three games -- the first time in program history they’ve accomplished the feat to start the season.

... UCF has four receivers with at least 100 yards on the year.

... In the 34-31 win over Penn State, QB Blake Bortles completed 20-of-27 passes for 288 yards and matched a career-high with three touchdown tosses.

... With USC visiting Orlando, the Knights will have hosted at least one school from a BCS automatically-qualifying league in a non-conference game every year since the 2006 season.

... Bright House Networks Stadium seats 45,301. The Knights had 35,115 for their home opener vs. Akron. UCF-USC is expected to sell out. The last sellout was against Boston College in 2011.

KNIGHTS TO WATCH

... QB BLAKE BORTLES: The 6-4, 230-pound junior has completed 50-of-70 passes for 816 yards and seven touchdowns. His one interception this season snapped a streak of 232 straight pass attempts without an interception that dated back to last season.

... RB STORM JOHNSON: The 6-0, 215-pound junior has rushed 55 times for 305 yards, a 101.7-yard average per game, with six touchdowns. He also has five catches with one touchdown reception.

... LB TERRANCE PLUMMER: The 6-1, 234-pound junior, leads the team with 28 tackles with three for loss. He forced his first career fumble against Penn State.

... OT TORRIAN WILSON: The 6-3, 308-pound junior was an All-C-USA second-team performer last season and anchors the offensive line for a potent offense this season.

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