The No. 22 UCF Knights will be back in New Orleans Saturday to take on No. 18 Tulane in the AAC Championship.
This is the second time they’ve faced the Green Wave in less than a month. This time, stakes are at its highest.
In their mid-November meetup, Tulane (10-2, 7-1) suffered its only divisional loss of the season. While the Knights’ (9-3, 6-2) 38-31 regular season win brings them morale heading into the weekend, it’s guaranteed to be a different atmosphere with the championship on the line.
Touching on Tulane
Tulane’s football program has taken a complete turnaround from last season. The Green Wave’s seven conference wins is a school record and a victory Saturday would mark their first championship. Head coach Willie Fritz transformed last year’s 2-10 Tulane to the most successful team the school has seen in 24 years, earning him the accolade of AAC Coach of the Year.
His squad is headlined by running back Tyjae Spears, the AAC’s first ever non-quarterback Player of the Year. Ranked third in rushing yards (1,177) and leading the conference with 14 touchdowns, UCF’s defense needs to prioritize containing him.
On the backline, Tulane is at the top of the AAC. Their defense has limited opponents to an average of 19.83 points per game and only 182.2 passing yards.
Utilities on UCF
UCF is known for playing an offensive game, ranking seventh in the nation in rushing yards. Leading the offense is quarterback John Rhys Plumlee, who put up 308 yards and three touchdowns against Tulane earlier this season.
Plumlee has been consistent, going 9-9 in UCF’s last game against USF before leaving due to a hamstring injury. While he’s expected to be back in action this weekend, its unclear how much time will be split with quarterback Mikey Keene.
What’s at Stake
The game is going to boil down to UCF’s top-ranked offense against Tulane’s dominant defense.
UCF’s four championships are the most of any school in the conference, but a fifth has been on their mind all season. There would be no better entrance to the Big 12 than leaving a winning legacy in the AAC. Taking home the title would be a fantastic finale.
For Tulane, capturing the championship for the first time would be the cherry on top of an already historic season—especially at home.
The winner is projected to represent the Group of Fives in the Cotton Bowl on Jan. 2. If Tulane delivers on Saturday, it will be their first bowl game since 1940.
Kickoff in New Orleans is set for Saturday at 4 p.m.