BOCA RATON, Fla. – Central Florida received outstanding play from the quarterback position in the season opener and the 17th-ranked Knights look to match that effort when they visit Florida Atlantic on Saturday night for a non-conference game. Starting senior Brandon Wimbush along with freshmen Dillon Gabriel and Quadry Jones combined for 356 yards passing and six touchdowns in UCF's 62-0 romp against Florida A&M last week.
TV: 7 p.m. ET, CBS Sports Network. LINE: UCF -10
The Knights lost prolific quarterback McKenzie Milton to a serious knee injury near the end of last year and sophomore Darriel Mack Jr. suffered an ankle injury in the offseason that has delayed the start of his campaign, handing the job to the three newcomers. UCF coach Josh Heupel told reporters the threesome "did a ton of positive things" and senior running back Adrian Killins Jr. said: "It doesn't matter who's in there. They're all capable of leading this team where we want to go." The Knights trailed late in the first half against Florida Atlantic at home last year before pulling away for a 56-36 victory and should get another challenge on the road against the Owls, who lost their opener 45-21 at Ohio State last Saturday and will have two fewer days of rest for the third all-time meeting with UCF. "For us it is like we are playing another SEC or Big Ten team, an upper-tier team two weeks in a row," Florida Atlantic coach Lane Kiffin told reporters. "Because (the Knights) have players like those guys. They have won as many games as anybody in the last couple of years in the country."
ABOUT CENTRAL FLORIDA (1-0)
Killins gave the Knights plenty of good moments on the ground as well, running for 106 yards and a touchdown, and he told reporters: "It all starts with the (offensive) line. We're going to go pretty darn far because this o-line is stout." Junior Gabriel Davis led the way with 68 yards on three catches and two touchdowns while freshman Amari Johnson hauled in two passes for another 67 yards along with a score and junior Tre Nixon had a team-high six receptions with a TD. The Knights' defense allowed just 96 yards overall in the opener - four on the ground - but lost junior defensive back Brandon Moore with a season-ending knee injury.
ABOUT FLORIDA ATLANTIC (0-1)
The Owls managed just 22 team rushing yards on 33 attempts at Ohio State, but sophomore quarterback Chris Robison was 22-of-34 for 178 yards and a touchdown through the air. Senior tight end Harrison Bryant hauled in six passes for 79 yards and senior receiver Tavaris Harrison was also a factor with 57 yards on four receptions while freshman running back Larry McCammon III had a touchdown run for FAU. Senior linebacker Rashad Smith led the way with 11 tackles for the Owls defense, which gave up 237 yards on the ground and 232 passing yards against the Buckeyes but were able to force a pair of fumbles.
1. Killins needs 64 yards rushing to become the 10th player in school history to reach 2,000, and is one touchdown away from 20 on the ground in his career.
2. Florida Atlantic junior RB BJ Emmons, an Alabama transfer, suffered an ankle injury after one carry against Ohio State and is doubtful.
3. Wimbush boasts 22 career touchdown passes - 20 at Notre Dame - in 21 collegiate games, and had 16 rushing scores with the Irish.
PREDICTION: Central Florida 45, Florida Atlantic 24