Monday huddle: Can UCF challenge powerful Cincinnati?

Knights will have a lot of people rooting for them to pull off the upset

UCF quarterback Mikey Keene throws a pass against Navy during the second half of an NCAA college football game, Saturday, Oct. 2, 2021, in Annapolis, Md. Navy won 34-30. (AP Photo/Julio Cortez) (Julio Cortez, Copyright 2021 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.)

Huddle up! Here’s a look back at this weekend on the gridiron, with three key takeaways from the state’s football scene.

A golden opportunity for the Knights to get the nation’s attention.

There will be a lot of college football fans pulling for Central Florida on Saturday.

Whether that will be a futile endeavor to root for the Knights remains to be seen, but people certainly hope UCF can shock the college football world like Texas A&M did by knocking off No. 1 Alabama last week.

UCF is gearing up for its biggest game of the year when it travels to No. 5 Cincinnati, a team that is very much in the conversation for a playoff berth.

The game will kick off at noon Saturday.

With that in mind, other top 10 teams will be rooting for an upset from the Knights so they can knock Cincinnati from the list of playoff contenders.

UCF should enter with some confidence against the powerful Bearcats, given the past two years have produced three-point games won by Cincinnati.

The key likely will be how poised freshman quarterback Mikey Keene can remain in such a hostile environment and against a stout defense.

Keene will be making his third start (we assume) since starter Dillon Gabriel suffered a broken clavicle.

A turnaround win for Florida State?

Down 10-0 after the first quarter at North Carolina, it sure looked like Florida State was about to sink further into the depths under second-year head coach Mike Norvell, given a 1-5 start seemed likely.

But 35 unanswered points later, the mood was strikingly different for the Seminoles, who pulled out a 35-25 win at North Carolina.

Now, it’s a matter of whether the game is a springboard the Seminoles need to get back to prominence.

After a bye week this week and a game on Oct. 23 against UMass, the schedule will get difficult with games at Clemson, and at home against N.C. State and Miami.

Lakeland tops Apopka in a thriller.

Heavy rain certainly had an impact on the state’s prep action on Friday evening, shortening or postponing games that started in some parts of the state.

But one anticipated game was completed, with Lakeland earning a hard-fought 20-17 win over Apopka in a matchup of teams that entered the game with 4-1 records.

Lakeland scored the game-winning touchdown on a 9-yard touchdown pass from Mason Martin to Tyler Williams with 53.5 seconds left, which capped off a 16-play, 86-yard drive that saw Lakeland convert a fourth-and-12, according to the Lakeland Ledger.

About the Author:

Keith is a member of Graham Media Group's Digital Content Team, which produces content for all the company's news websites.