Last year - under new coach Donnie Jones - UCF began the season 14-0 which included wins over Florida, Miami and Princeton. Then they promptly lost 8 in a row to suspect competition while stumbling their way to a 21-12 record, and finished their year playing in the semi-finals of a Tournament no one watched. But still, there was plenty of reason to be excited heading into this season with All-Conference selections Marcus Jordan (Michael's son) and Keith Clanton returning, as well as the addition of three high-major transfers (including UVA's Tristan Spurlock).
But just before the season started UCF was notified that the basketball program was under investigation by the NCAA. Now, senior AJ Rompza is suspended as part of the investigation. Compounding the problem is the suspension of three other players for rules violations, including star Marcus Jordan. Coach Donnie Jones still hasn't announced if any of the three will play, and the outcome of that announcement greatly affects this preview. Should they play, UCF has a very real shot at winning this game.
In FSU's first game of the season, the goals at Tomahawk Nation were to score more than 1.10 points per possession, and to limit Jacksonville to under 0.90. The Noles met the offensive goal (1.11) but failed on the defensive end (0.94). Without the suspended players, the goals are 1.15 on the offensive end, and less than 0.85 on the defensive end. With the suspended players the goals change to 1.125 on offense, and less than 0.95 on defense. The other variable is the health of Bernard James. If his ankle is good to go, FSU should be able to meet their defensive goals.
The game tips at 7 from the TLCCC and is broadcast on ESPN3.
Around noon the Vegas line took a sharp turn from FSU -12.5 to FSU -10, which suggests that either Bernard James is out, or the UCF players are reinstated. Ken Pomeroy has FSU -10 (which assumes everyone is playing).