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Gameday- UCF goes for American Title- perfect 12-0 season

Josh Ciganek

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Photo by Icon Sportswire

The University of Central Florida are appearing in their third ever American Athletic Conference championship game Saturday afternoon. The still-undefeated Knights will play host to the Memphis Tigers, a team they handily defeated 40-13 earlier this season. Memphis comes in with a 10-1 record, with lone loss to UCF.

However, this is a far different Memphis team than the Knights faced earlier in the year. There’s a few things to watch for in this American Athletic Conference Championship.

High Powered Offense

UCF boasts the number one scoring offense in the nation scoring 48.3 points per game, including putting 49 on in-state rival USF last week. Led by American Athletic Conference Offensive Player of the Year quarterback McKenzie Milton, the Knights have a high powered offensive attack that can move the ball downfield almost at will. They have also scored on their opening possession in 8 of their 11 games so far this season. In addition, UCF holds the longest streak in college football for scoring 30+ points per game at 11 straight games.

Memphis is no stranger to finding the end zone either though. After running the score up to 70 last week against East Carolina, the Tigers are right behind UCF with the second best scoring offense in college football, averaging 47.0 points per game. Since losing to UCF, Memphis has gone on to average nearly 530 yards of offense per game.

Turnover Battle

Both of these teams have played exceptional defense throughout this season. UCF has the best defense in the American as well as having the number two turnover margin in the nation with a +1.55. Memphis follows suit quite closely as they rank sixth in college football in the turnover margin category with a +1.09. Knowing that both defenses can take the ball away at any moment, it will be a battle to see who can keep possession of the ball and whether or not each team can score points off of any turnovers they create.

Special Teams is Key

As witnessed last week against USF, the Knights place a big piece of importance on special teams. Return man Mike Hughes has done an incredible job at providing this offense with excellent field position, as well as breaking open huge returns for touchdowns. UCF ranks 4th in the nation in kickoff returns as they average 28+ yards per return and 6th in punt returns with an average 15+ yards per return. Hughes also has had 1 punt return for a touchdown and two kickoff returns for touchdowns this season.

With all the distraction going on this week with head coach Scott Frost “reportedly” being interested in some of the open head coaching jobs, UCF will have to be poised and ready for today’s game. The Knights are projected to possibly make the “New Year’s Six” Peach Bowl if they win today against Memphis.

 

Josh Ciganek is a young draft pick working his way up the depth chart on the F.F.I. roster, who enjoys watching and writing about all of Florida’s football teams.

UCF Knights

USF and UCF got American Conference 2020 schedules Tuesday

Florida Football Insiders

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Reinhold Matay-USA TODAY Sports

On Tuesday afternoon the American Athletic Conference made official is 2020 football dates for opponents for its conference members. And, that means UCF and USF got to look for the first time at their full conference slates and when they are playing whom.

First for the Knights, they learned that they will open year three of coach Josh Heupel’s conference play on Thursday night September 24th at East Carolina. It is one of three stand-alone weeknight(day) games UCF has on their schedule.

The next one will be Friday night October 16th, as UCF travels to play the Memphis Tigers. That’s a team that the Knights defeated for two Conference Championship Game victories in 2017 and 18.

UCF will also play a traditional “War on I-4” game with the rival Bulls on the Friday after Thanksgiving November 27th. This will be the fourth straight year of playing on “Black Friday.”

As for the Knights other part of the league schedule, they will have their AAC home opener with Tulsa on Saturday October 3rd and then, finish the slate with two huge home matchups with Temple Saturday November 14th followed by Cincinnati at Spectrum Stadium the following week.

For the Bulls, who welcome first year coach Jeff Scott in 2020, they will only have two standalone appearances in conference play. Those will be a Friday night home game October 23rd with Tulsa and then, the previously mentioned final rivalry game with UCF on Friday November 27th.

The Bulls first conference game of the season will be at Cincinnati on October 3rd, while the home opener is East Carolina the following week at Raymond James Stadium.

USF has a tough road slate beginning at Temple on October 17th and then, after the Friday night home game with Tulsa, playing at Memphis November 7th and at Houston November 14th.

The conference is playing 2020 with only 11 members, as UConn has departed and gone back to the Big East. This will also be the first time that the AAC doesn’t play a two six team division format and will instead take the top two ranked teams in conference play for it’s December Championship Game.

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Speedy former UCF RB Killins looks to impress at Shrine Bowl

Florida Football Insiders

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One-player eager to start showcasing himself Saturday afternoon in the pre-draft process  in St Petersburg is former UCF speedster RB, Adrian Killins.

Killins ,who just finished four years of highlight runs and touchdowns for the the Knights will participate in the East-West Shrine Bowl.

Killins is generously listed at 5’9 and 165 lb. and came UCF without much fanfare from Daytona Mainland High School. However, he had been an explosive player on the football gridiron, and he was also a former two time 3A State 200m track champion before coming to Orlando.

Once at UCF in 2016, Killins immediately showed off his explosiveness and moniker of “fastest player in college football” with a 100-yard kickoff return at ECU and an 87 yard touchdown run at “the Big House” in Ann Arbor against Michigan.

His best season was his sophomore year, when he was named First Team All American Athletic Conference RB, as he rushed for 790 yards and 10 touchdowns to lead UCF. He showed versatility and caught another additional 25 passes for 169 yards.

He also set a UCF record for longest play from scrimmage that still stands, in the UCF regular season win over Memphis, as he took a handoff and the looked like a missle racing down the sideline:

Killins helped the Knights experience their greatest season ever at 13 – 0 with not only a thrilling double-overtime conference title game rematch win over the Tigers, but a New Year’s Day upset of SEC Powerhouse Auburn in the Peach Bowl for the perfect season.

His next two years under Josh Heupel and his new coaching staff were not as spectacular. But, he still he would make the occasional explosive run and finished his career with over 1,700 yards rushing and 25 touchdowns.

He did leave a final impression with his 115 yards and 1 TD in the regular season finale with USF.

Now, he knows that with his smaller size, even with blazing speed, he will be challenged to stick on an NFL roster, and another way might be as a kick returner. Killins left UCF with a career 21.8 avg on 47 returns as a Knight.

He will likely need to show that part of his game to help him get a realistic shot at the next level. And, we wait to see if there will be explosive plays from him Saturday.

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