The UCF Knights will essentially be playing a home game when they take on the Ball State Cardinals in the Beef 'O' Brady's Bowl on Friday night at Tropicana Field.
The Knights (9-4) had been gunning for a spot in the Liberty Bowl heading into the Conference USA Championship Game, but an overtime loss to the Tulsa Golden Hurricane pushed UCF down to the Beef 'O' Brady's.
The Cardinals (9-3) enter the game on a seven-game winning streak and have been a fun team to watch all year, as noted by Matt Sussman of SB Nation's MAC blog Hustle Belt. Ball State is coming off a 31-24 win over Miami (OH) in their regular season finale.
UCF and Ball State have quite a bit in common, and they even share some eerily similar offensive stats. The Knights are scoring 35.2 points per game on the year, while the Cardinals are at 35.0 points per game. UCF quarterback Blake Bortles has thrown for 2,787 yards and 22 touchdowns, compared to 2,878 yards and 22 touchdowns for Ball State quarterback Keith Wenning. Wenning did miss some time at the end of the regular season with an ankle injury, but he has returned to practice and may play on Friday.
Where the Knights do have a bit of an advantage is on the defensive side of the ball. UCF is giving up 22.5 points per game, while Ball State is giving up a whopping 31.5 points per game. But despite this, many experts are picking the Cardinals because of the momentum they have built up over the course of their seven-game winning streak.
Game date and time
Dec. 21, 7:30 p.m. ET
Tropicana Field, St. Petersburg, Florida
UCF is a 7-point favorite.
ESPN 3 in limited parts of the country. Here's the map.
National - ESPN Radio
UCF - WYGM 740-AM
Ball State - WLBC 104.1 FM
Last year’s game
Marshall defeated Florida International, 20-10.
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