Trying to complete a perfect regular season in Tampa Friday afternoon, the UCF Knights suffered a devastating injury to star quarterback McKenzie Milton in the second quarter of the game vs. rival USF.
Milton, the leading favorite to repeat as American Conference Offensive Player of the Year, and possible Heisman Trophy finalists in two weeks, suffered a gruesome broken right leg during the second quarter.
Milton hurt the leg while scrambling to his right with 11:20 remaining in the second quarter. He planted while trying to cut near the USF sideline and being hit simultaneously by a defender diving at his legs. His leg obviously stuck in the turf and the impact of the other player hitting him, fractured the leg badly at the kneecap.
ESPN did not show any television replays, but instead focused on both teams coming around the area where Milton had been injured and a cast was being placed on his leg. The photo above shows UCF coach Josh Heupel and USF coach Charlie Strong both looking in, as Milton was on the ground. He was then carted off after several minutes and taken to local St. Joseph’s Hospital next to Raymond James Stadium.
— UCF Football (@UCF_Football) November 23, 2018
Backup quarterback Darriel Mack, a redshirt freshman who played for Milton earlier this year in the East Carolina win, took over in the second quarter. UCF eventually scored on a Greg McRae 40 yard touchdown run to make the game 17-0 Knights.
The Knights led 17-3 at the half and Heupel told ESPN that he would tell his team at the break, “let’s go play for him (Milton) and win for him.”
While the injury to Milton and his health are obviously the most important thing, the other ramification is what does this mean for the knights hopes for the College Football Playoff?
If UCF goes on to not only beat the Bulls but also win the American Conference Championship Game next week, they will be 12 and 0 for the second straight year. However, now the 13-person selection committee will likely view them differently without Milton.
While that may seem unfair, it’s not unprecedented, as NCAA basketball tournament selection committees have had to deal with this in the past involving star players and catastrophic injuries at the end of the year and how it determines their seeding.
As we wrote earlier this week, the Knights had broken into the top 10 of the college football playoffs most recent ranking being placed at 9.
Regardless of the outcome of the USF game, the Knights know they are hosting the title game next weekend and found out that their opponent will be a rematch with the Memphis Tigers, who beat Houston to capture the west division of the AAC on Friday afternoon.
USF and UCF got American Conference 2020 schedules Tuesday
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.
— American Football (@American_FB) February 18, 2020
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.
Speedy former UCF RB Killins looks to impress at Shrine Bowl
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.
— East-West Shrine Bowl (@ShrineBowl) December 2, 2019
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:
Longest run in @UCF_Football history ✔️
Longest run in @American_FB history ✔️
2nd-longest in NCAA this year ✔️
— UCF Football (@UCF_Football) October 1, 2017
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.