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.
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