After 23 days between games, rust was bound to be a factor for UCF as they faced Maryland, a Big Ten opponent that had scored 51 and 63 points in their first two games, in their place.
Well, that couldn't have gone much better.
38 points and 428 total yards later, the Knights had their second-ever road win over a Big Ten opponent in school history, and now the nation is starting to take notice.
The front seven. Erik Chinander's defense held Maryland to 42 net rushing yards on 37 carries and sacked Maryland's passers five times. Jamiyus Pittman and Tony Guerad were all over the place, including the play that knocked Kasim Hill out of the game (more on that later)
The speculation is starting to swirl about Scott Frost and Nebraska, given NU's firing of its AD and the ensuing uncertainty now surrounding head coach Mike Riley. But if UCF isn't careful, Chinander may be the one who snags a head coaching gig sooner rather than later.
The start. UCF looked really rusty in the first quarter. The first three possessions ended in punts, while Maryland seemed to be getting their sea legs. But then Hill went down and after one more Maryland possession, the Knights went 55 yards on nine plays to put up their first points on Taj McGowan's one-yard plunge:
Hello Taj! Hello 7-3 lead! pic.twitter.com/SpuDNKZsgT— UCF Football (@UCF_Football) September 23, 2017
That snapped the rough stretch.
Jawon Hamilton's injury. This sucked. And now he's reportedly done for the year:
I WILL Bounce Back Bigger, Faster, And Stronger #TheReturn— 7 (@jawonhamilton) September 25, 2017
Hamilton only had 51 yards on the season, but he was the bruiser back in the offensive scheme - The LeGarrette Blount in the Oregon offense, as opposed to Adrien Killins' De'Anthony Thomas.
Mike Hughes' Pick-6:
We are DBU pic.twitter.com/D7SSepac3g— (#10) UCF Barstool (@UCFStool) September 23, 2017
That's one hell of a way to make your presence felt in your second game as a Knight.
It's also one hell of a way to seal the deal on a huge non-conference road win.
The Turning Point
Speaking of injuries...
When Kasim Hill went down, Maryland was at the UCF 21 with a 3rd and 13. Maryland was in a position to get points (and eventually did), but Hill had shown flashes of what made him so good, keeping plays alive, like the one he got hurt on.
When he left the game and third-string QB Max Bortenschlager had to come in, that was pretty much that for Maryland's offense on the day.
Stats of the Day
UCF: 39 attempts, 250 yards, 6.4 yards per carry.
Maryland: 37 attempts, 42 yards, 1.1 yards per carry.
#UCFast and #UCFierce ranked among the nation's best. #RiseandConquer pic.twitter.com/hO4CfdJPtw— UCF Football (@UCF_Football) September 24, 2017
Memphis at 7 p.m. in the Bounce House. Now's UCF's chance to make some serious noise on national TV.
UCF is already pulling out the big guns to promote the rescheduled game:
You heard the boss...#SelloutSpectrum!— UCF Knights (@UCFKnights) September 23, 2017
Yes, you heard the man. Be there.