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More On Duke vs. UCF In The Military Bowl

Duke has a solid shot in this one. Can they pull it off?

COLLEGE FOOTBALL: NOV 26 Wake Forest at Duke
 DURHAM, NC - NOVEMBER 26: Riley Leonard (13) of the Duke Blue Devils passes the ball deep during a football game between the Duke Blue Devils and the Wake Forest Demon Deacons on Nov 26, 2022 at Wallace Wade Stadium in Durham, NC.
Photo by David Jensen/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

Duke faces Central Florida Wednesday in the Military Bowl and it’s an interesting matchup. There’s no question that, at least at the moment, Central Florida is more of a football school than is Duke. They’ve done well enough to be invited to join the Big 12. True, demographics are a bit part of it, but the Knights are a very solid football program. Demographics alone are not reason enough for the Big 12 to move them up. You need to have some level of achievement too, and UCF has that.

You could say that Gus Malzhan took a step down after coaching at Auburn, but UCF is not a bad gig. Not at all.

The Knights enter the Military Bowl at 9-4 which is a good but not great year by their standards.

UCF’s quarterback is Ole Miss transfer John Rhys Plumlee and like Duke’s Riley Leonard,he can pass, but he can also bust a play open on the ground.

He should fit in well with coach Gus Malzahn’s philosophy: Malzahn wrote a book called The Hurry-Up, No-Huddle: An Offensive Philosophy. One of the points of that sort of approach is to stress and tire the defense by not giving it a chance to rest much between plays. Duke has had a wonderful season, but one of the tougher issues for the program over the years has been quality depth. If Malzahn is running that sort of offense, it’s potentially a tough problem for Duke.

Obviously if Duke can control the ball for long periods of time, Malzahn will have trouble making that work.

And Duke might be able to since UCF’s offensive line has allowed Plumlee to be sacked 30 times this year.

Turnovers could be a major factor in this game. Central Florida has issues protecting Plumlee and they have only picked off six passes all season. They also aren't particularly good at getting to the other teams quarterback and their secondary has been vulnerable.

All of this is likely part of why the oddsmakers have installed Duke as a 3-4 point favorite, depending on where you look.