Run and Shoot: Bright Beginnings

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Bright Beginnings

ORLANDO - They should call this place the Hot House. Or maybe the dehydration house, as the stadium is without a single water fountain anywhere on the premises.

I'm a native Floridian, but it is scorching in Orlando today for the inaugural game at Bright House Networks Stadium, the brand spanking shiny new $55 million stadium built on UCF's campus.

And who'd the Knights draw to christen their new digs? Why it's the 2-0, No. 6 Texas Longhorns, who reportedly had trouble getting into Orlando last night, but who you can also expect to make the Knights' first game an unpleasent one.

One major difference between the Bright House and the old Citrus Bowl, where UCF used to play its off-campus games, will be the addition of actual fans sitting in the seats come game time, a sight not often witnessed in their downtown Orlando home.

The Knights - remember they are no longer the Golden Knights, a name that makes more sense now that their stadium is called the Bright House - come into the game 1-0 after an upset of BCS conference team, the ACC's N.C. State.

With that said, N.C. State is not Texas and the Knights aren't expecting another game like that one. Although, if they can get off to another hot start, the Longhorns could be left on their heels in the early going.

Everyone knows about Texas' standout players sophomore QB Colt McCoy, junior RB Jamaal Charles and senior WR Limas Sweed, all members of the Maxwell Award watch list for the nation's most outstanding collegiate football player, but what about the Knights?

UCF junior tailback Kevin Smith was named the C-USA Offensive Player of the Week on Sept. 4 for his game against the Wolf Pack when he rushed for a career-high 217 yards.

Smith might not be able to approach those heights against the Longhorns as they've been able to hold opponents to 84 yards per game on the ground this season and have only scored one rushing TD on the year.

If the Knights are going to do some damage, they might have to rely on the passing game, as the Texas pass defense has been largely unimpressive this season, giving up 240 yards a game. Although the Longhorns have yet to give up a passing TD.

Senior QB Kyle Israel has completed 71 percent of his passes in the Knights' last three games dating back to last year, and went 12-of-24 for 93 yards against the Pack. Those number must improve to beat the Longhorns today.

One Texas fan told me he thought the Bright House was a "cute little stadium" and it is. The 45,323-seat stadium doesn't rival Texas' or the Swamp in Gainesville, but it is the new home to the Knights and the fans are excited.

This is going to be the most special game for UCF that they see for quite some time yet, win or lose. And it will be satisfying either way. And I fully expect the Knights to give it a game.

With that said, the Longhorns will be leaving Orlando happier than they came.

Prediction: Texas 42, UCF 21

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