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UCF Knights

UCF got huge special teams boost Saturday

Photograph by Greg Thompson/Icon Sportswire
Florida Football Insiders



Sometimes a single play can catapult the rest of your season. We don’t know if UCF kick returner Adrian Killins’ explosive 100 yard TD Saturday in the 2nd quarter at East Carolina was such a moment, but it certainly was huge on Saturday.

After the Pirates had struck first with a Phillip Nelson TD pass, they kicked to the freshman RB a couple of yards in the end zone for the Golden Knight momentum changing moment here:

Seeing those after-burners seemed to “ignite” UCF, as they scored 23 unanswered points in the second and third quarters for a 16 point lead.

Dontravious Wilson scored twice and the Golden Knight defense got a “gift” TD when Brandon Hayes grabbed a Nelson pass and waltzed in from four yards out to help put the game out of reach.

Back to Killins, on Monday he was named American Athletic Conference Special Teams player of the week.

Again, with UCF set to host Tulane Friday night, we don’t know how much momentum that play/win Saturday will give them overall, but it was certainly the game changer that they needed and could be the continuation of a mini-roll in Orlando.

Zach Lauer
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UCF Knights

UCF thrilling win over Memphis scored ratings for ABC/ESPN

Florida Football Insiders



Justin Ford-USA TODAY Sports

Saturday’s thrilling 31 – 30 win by UCF at Memphis to keep their unbeaten season alive scored a significant overnight rating for ABC/ESPN.

The Knights 13-point comeback win ended up registering a combined 2.2 national rating along with the split broadcast of the Washington-Oregon Pac-12 Showdown. The games were shown on a split feed of ABC/ESPN depending on if you were in the eastern or western half of the country.

ESPN frequently does split the feed of the games to maximize regional viewership. The 2.2 rating is solid and typical of that slot.

For example, it defeated the stand-alone national broadcast by NBC of Notre Dame’s comeback win over Pitt. That registered a 2.1 national rating Saturday afternoon, though NBC started that game an hour earlier than UCF-Memphis.

Likewise, number 1 Alabama’s blowout win over Missouri was a standalone game in prime time on ESPN everywhere in the country and with less competition at 7:30 p.m. Eastern. Still, it received the same 2.2 rating as the Knights game.

The CBS broadcast of LSU’s upset of Georgia, which was on at the same time as UCF, won the weekend with a staggering 3.7 overnight rating. That is tremendous for a daytime slot on a network and with the volume of competition of televised college afternoon games.

For comparison, that CBS rating was up 68% from the same slot a year ago, which had Auburn playing LSU. And it narrowly defeated the national prime time ABC broadcast of Michigan-Wisconsin which got a 3.6 rating.

Back to UCF, which has a 19 game win streak at the moment and a Heisman Trophy candidate quarterback in McKenzie Milton, that solid rating and those story lines mean that the Knights will likely be featured again by ABC/ESPN coming up.

The 2017 UCF Knights already delivered two tremendous television ratings for ABC/ESPN.

This included their Friday after Thanksgiving thrilling win over rival USF, which was the highest rated over the air daytime college football broadcast of the season. “The War on I-4” was shown nationally, as a standalone game on ABC without much competition.

Further, the Knights upset of Auburn in the Peach Bowl on New Year’s afternoon, also saw a huge increases and Records for ESPN. UCF going for a perfect season and playing an SEC opponent helped greatly.

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UCF Knights

Former UCF star-Vikings DB Mike Hughes has torn ACL

Florida Football Insiders



Brace Hemmelgarn-USA TODAY Sports

The Minnesota Vikings fears for first round pick and former UCF Knights defensive back Mike Hughes were realized Monday, when an MRI revealed he tore his ACL in Sunday’s game.

Hughes was injured in the fourth quarter of the Vikings 27 – 17 win over the Arizona Cardinals.

Coach Mike Zimmer confirmed the ACL tear and announced at his Monday news conference that Hughes will go on injured reserve and miss the remainder of the Season:

Hughes was taken at the end of the first round in April’s draft after starring as part of the Knight’s perfect 13 – 0 season a year ago.

Hughes was named first-team All-American Athletic Conference with 44 tackles and four interceptions and a team-high 11 pass breakups during that season. His most memorable moment was the game-winning kickoff return touchdown in the final moments of UCF thrilling win over rival USF to finish a perfect 11 – 0 regular season

Hughes had started two games so far this year for the Vikings, and even had an interception return for a touchdown (above) in the opening win over the San Francisco 49ers. He also showed some flashes in the NFL as a return specialist, including a 46-yard kickoff return in the second game of the year with the Green Bay Packers.

Hughes made Seven tackles in the Vikings national television Thursday night loss 38 – 31 to the Rams a couple of weeks ago.

It is the second straight year that a prominent Vikings draft pick has been lost with an ACL injury on the turf at the Vikings home, U.S. Bank Stadium. Last year, second round pick, running back Dalvin Cook of FSU, also suffered a torn ACL  early in the season.

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UCF Knights

Gutsy call by UCF coach Heupel fuels comeback win at Memphis

Florida Football Insiders



David Butler II- USA Today Sports

Sometimes dramatic crazy games come down to one play or one call. And a lot of times they come down to such a call at the end of the game. On Saturday in Memphis, UCF Coach Josh Heupel pulled out a truly gutsy-almost crazy 4th Down call.

And the resulting touchdown turned out to be the biggest play of UCF’s heart stopping 31-30 win over the Tigers.

Memphis clearly had the 10th ranked and unbeaten Knights on the ropes down 30-17. Running back Darrell Henderson had run for over 150 yards and a couple of scores late in the third quarter.

The Knights and Star Quarterback McKenzie Milton were struggling to get anything going. Rain was falling making the conditions even worse at Liberty Bowl Memorial Stadium.

Then the first time-first year head coach, decided to roll the dice, BiG TIME.

Facing fourth-and-one at his own 29-yard line with just under 3 minutes remaining in the third, Heupel initially left his offense out and lined up to go for the first down, but then, took a time out.

However, out of that timeout Heupel sent the offense and Milton back on the field and this was the result:

With 310 lb. defensive tackle Tristyan Hill leading the way, equally bulky running back Taj McGowan rumbled 71 yards for the game-changing touchdown on a play that will be talked about for years in UCF-lore.

Yes, there was a whole 4th quarter still to play, and Milton eventually led the go-ahead touchdown drive scoring himself on a leaping run into the endzone.

Yes, the Tigers still had two different chances to get into field-goal range, including in the final seconds of the game. Yet, the UCF defense stopped them.

Nevertheless, the play of this game was that 4th Down call resulting in that momentum-changing touchdown at a time in which UCF was perhaps on the verge of getting knocked out. And their unbeaten streak was clearly hanging int he balance, and a loss for the first time in almost two calendar years was becoming reality.

Instead, it’s 6-0 and 19 straight wins.

Coaches often get criticized for being conservative.

No one can ever accuse Heupel of being that kind of coach, ever again, after the decision he made on fourth down, deep in his own territory to swing the momentum, and help his team beat Memphis.

Guts doesn’t say enough.

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