After losing to Louisville in Week 2, UCF has rebounded and will seek its fourth straight win when it hosts Temple on Thursday night in American Athletic Conference play at Orlando, Fla.
Second-year coach Gus Malzahn and his Knights will be facing the Owls in UCF’s annual Space Game, a contest that honors the long relationship between the central Florida school and the nearby U.S. space program.
During their three-game winning streak, the Knights (4-1, 1-0 AAC) have played in another galaxy and put a vast amount of space between themselves and the opposition on the scoreboard — a combined 108-43 upper hand in points.
UCF collected a conference-opening 41-19 win over SMU last Wednesday, pouring it on by a 31-6 margin in the second half after trailing at halftime. The Knights’ defense made big plays in the second half of the game that pitted new SMU coach Rhett Lashlee and Malzahn, who have worked together on five previous teams.
“We played our best football game,” Malzahn said. “We dominated the second half.”
Though they allowed 476 total yards to the offensive-minded Mustangs, the Knights held them to 4-for-16 on third downs. UCF had seven tackles for loss, eight pass breakups and five quarterback hurries.
In its last outing on Oct. 1, Temple (2-3, 0-1) led 3-0 at halftime in Memphis before the Tigers awakened and scored four times in the final 17 minutes for a 24-3 conference win.
Owls first-year coach Stan Drayton said his team isn’t playing complementary football, with the defense leading the way and the offense trying to keep up.
Penalties and turnovers have also been a problem, as E.J. Warner — the son of former NFL quarterback Kurt Warner — threw three interceptions.
In three of its games, Temple’s defense has held the opposition to 16 points or fewer, including a 28-0 blanking of UMass.
“The defense played lights out for about 2 1/2 or three quarters,” Drayton after the Memphis defeat. “They’re playing 89 plays compared to 50-some-odd plays on offense. That’s just not a good formula we’re living by right now.”
UCF has won five straight in the series and owns a 7-2 all-time edge.
–Field Level Media