This week in Around the American, we prepare for Conflict Week by taking a look at the first six games of UCF’s season. The Knights come to East Hartford on Saturday with a 3-3 record, including 1-1 in conference play. UCF is third in the East Division of the American Athletic Conference, behind USF and Temple.
UCF got their season started with a matchup against FCS opponent South Carolina State. The Knights did what most FBS schools do to FCS foes: win in dominating fashion, this time by a score of 38-0. Senior quarterback Justin Holman threw for 193 yards, including two touchdowns, and ran for 40 yards, adding another touchdown. The UCF defense held South Carolina St. to 138 yards passing and 85 yards rushing, while getting three turnovers in the game.
The Knights then traveled north to visit No. 5 Michigan. Wolverines quarterback Wilton Speight threw four touchdowns in a 51-14 win. UCF managed to run for 275 yards in a tough matchup, but could not stop Michigan on defense. The Knights got bad news late in the first half as Holman was injured and did not return.
At 1-1, UCF would host Big Ten opponent Maryland in week three. Maryland was a heavy favorite in the game, but freshman quarterback McKenzie Milton kept UCF in the game while filling in for the injured Holman. Milton threw for 260 yards and two touchdowns, adding another on the ground. However, Milton’s first collegiate action resulted in fumbling the ball six times and throwing an interception. The game would go into double overtime, where a Milton fumble would lead to Maryland escaping with a 30-24 victory.
UCF then traveled to FIU for a matchup against the 0-3 Panthers of Conference USA. The Knights rushed for 276 yards and Milton passed for 173 yards, starting at quarterback again. On the defensive side of the ball, UCF held FIU to just 189 yards of total offense and forced the Panthers to punt nine times in a 53-14 win that brought the Knights back to a .500 record. Milton was also injured in the game, putting the Knights in deeper quarterback trouble.
In week five UCF would play their first game in the American, going on the road to play East Carolina. Justin Holman returned from injury and looked a little rusty, going 11-29 and tossing two interceptions. However, the Knights’ running game carried the team again, rushing for 217 yards and four touchdowns. ECU threw three interceptions in the game and lost two fumbles, as UCF would win the game 47-29.
After a bye week, UCF hosted Temple in another conference matchup. Head coach Scott Frost decided to go back to the freshman Milton at quarterback after he recovered from his injury against ECU. Milton passed for 210 yards, two touchdowns and one interception in the game, and Temple held the UCF rushing attack to just 86 yards. The Knights forced two turnovers on defense and held a 25-7 lead in the third quarter. The Owls would come back to 25-20 and get possession at their own 30-yard line with 32 seconds remaining. Temple proceeded to score the game-winning touchdown with less than ten seconds remaining to stun UCF with a 26-25 win.
A week after the heartbreaker against Temple, UCF will look to improve to 2-1 in the American with a matchup at UConn.
Josh Buser is a campus correspondent for The Daily Campus. He can be reached via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.