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A Knee-Jerk Look at UCF’s 2023 Football Schedule

UCF’s first season in the Big 12 includes four conference home games

NCAA Football: Fiesta Bowl-Baylor vs Central Florida
UCF and Baylor will meet for the first time since the 2014 Fiesta Bowl
Matt Kartozian-USA TODAY Sports

After months of anticipation, the UCF Knights football program’s first season’s schedule in the Big 12 Conference has been released.

This year, the Big 12 has fourteen teams as Oklahoma and Texas are on their way out. UCF, Cincinnati, Houston, and BYU are newcomers into the conference. The holdover members include Baylor, Iowa State, Kansas, Kansas State, Oklahoma State, TCU, Texas Tech, and West Virginia.

Let’s dive into the schedule.

NCAA Football: Kent State at Georgia
Kent State Golden Flashes
Dale Zanine-USA TODAY Sports

August 31 (Thu) - vs. Kent State

Series tied 2-2
Last meeting: L 41-24, 2004
2022 record: 5-7
Starting the season on a weeknight once again, the Knights will see an opponent they have not played against in a long time. When the schools last played, the Knights were still the Golden and mired in a 17-game losing streak and playing their last game as a member of the Mid-American Conference. Boy, have times changed. The Golden Flashes lost coach Sean Lewis to Deion Sanders and Colorado. Former Minnesota assistant Kenni Burns takes over in his first head coaching role.

NCAA Football: Boise State at Central Florida
Boise State Broncos
Mike Watters-USA TODAY Sports

September 9 - at Boise State

UCF leads series 1-0
Last meeting: W 36-31, 2021
2022 record: 10-4
Boise State helped open UCF’s 2021 season in dramatic fashion. After a two hour and forty five minute delay, the Broncos and Knights had a great game, with the Knights coming back to win 36-31. We now see the return trip of that series.

Syndication: Wilmington News Journal
Villanova Wildcats
William Bretzger/Delaware News Journal / USA TODAY NETWORK

September 16 - vs. Villanova

UCF leads series 1-0
Last meeting: W 35-16, 2006
2022 record: 6-5
UCF and Villanova have a little shared history. When the Big East originally was looking to expand, the ninth team was TCU. The tenth team was a tossup between UCF, Houston, and Villanova. The basketball side of the conference wanted the FCS school to reclassify up and join the conference

Narrator: They did neither.

Central Florida v Kansas State
Kansas State Wildcats
Photo by Peter G. Aiken/Getty Images

September 23 - at Kansas State

KSU leads series 0-1
Last meeting: L 17-13, 2010
2022 record: 10-4
UCF and Kansas State met once back in 2010. In a low-scoring affair, a late comeback allowed the Wildcats to escape with a win before buying out of the second game of the series. There’s no more buying out now for the reigning Big 12 champions.

NCAA Football: Fiesta Bowl-Baylor vs Central Florida
Baylor Bears
Casey Sapio-USA TODAY Sports

September 30 - vs. Baylor

UCF leads series 1-0
Last meeting: W 52-42, 2014 (Fiesta Bowl)
2022 record: 6-7
Baylor has the distinction of being the only current Big 12 school to lose to UCF. They also will be UCF’s first home conference opponent. In 2013, the American Athletic Conference had one more season as a BCS conference. UCF won a bid to the Fiesta Bowl to take on Baylor and the nation’s top offense. Despite having the most one-sided point spread in BCS history, the Knights upset the Bears with an offensive showcase of their own. The Bears struggled last year after winning the Big 12 in 2021.

NCAA Football: Liberty Bowl-Arkansas at Kansas
Kansas Jayhawks
Nelson Chenault-USA TODAY Sports

October 7 - at Kansas

First Meeting
2022 record: 6-7
One of the more intriguing programs on the schedule, the Jayhawks, who having been perennial bottom feeders for a long time, have started to find some footing under coach Lane Leipold. Defensive tackles coach Jim Panagos is a former defensive line coach for the Knights. He served under George O’Leary from 2007-2011.

Oklahoma Sooners
Photo by Joe Petro/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

October 21 - at Oklahoma

First meeting
2022 record: 6-7
Knights fans are going to have this game circled. Despite the game being in Norman, the presence of former starting quarterback Dillon Gabriel might convince fans to make the trip. Oklahoma struggled last year to find a rhythm, dealing with injuries and first-year head coach Brett Venables. The Sooners will soon be moving to the SEC, so this might be the only time the Knights get a shot.

NCAA Football: West Virginia at Oklahoma State
West Virginia Mountaineers
Oklahoman-USA TODAY Sports

October 28 - vs. West Virginia

WVU leads series 0-2
Last meeting: L 45-20, 2004
2022 record: 5-7
You have to turn back the clock to the days of the MAC to see the last time UCF and West Virginia met up. A lot of has changed since then. The Knights are no longer Golden and have had multiple winning seasons. The Mountaineers are no longer the big dogs of the Big East and have not won seven games or more in a season since 2018. This rekindles what could become a good rivalry between two very passionate fanbases.

NCAA Football: Cincinnati at Central Florida
Cincinnati Bearcats
The Cincinnati Enquirer-USA TODAY NETWORK

November 4 - at Cincinnati

Series tied 4-4
Last meeting: W 25-21, 2022
2022 record: 9-4
Over the last few seasons, UCF and Cincinnati have developed a lot of hostility. It began with a beatdown so one-sided, the game was called due to weather after only three quarters. It then became the focus game for ESPN College GameDay. It has been one of the primary matchups for the AAC and it moves over to the Big 12. Last year was another close game with the Knights winning 25-21.

Guaranteed Rate Bowl - Wisconsin v Oklahoma State
Oklahoma State Cowboys
Photo by Chris Coduto/Getty Images

November 11 - vs Oklahoma State

First meeting
2022 record: 7-6
Expected to be one of the heavyweights in the new conference, the Cowboys will travel to Orlando and face UCF for the first time. After opening the season 5-0 and ranked in the top 10, the Cowboys tanked, going 2-6 the rest of the way. During that stretch, they went 2-1 at home and 0-5 on the road or at neutral sites.

NCAA Football: Texas Bowl-Texas Tech at Mississippi
Texas Tech Red Raiders
Thomas Shea-USA TODAY Sports

November 18 - at Texas Tech

First meeting
2022 record: 8-5
Texas Tech is one of those schools that flies just under the radar and then jumps up and breaks someone’s heart. The Red Raiders upset ranked Houston and Texas earlier in the year and upended Oklahoma in overtime, all at home. TTU struggled on the road, losing four out of five away from Lubbock. Unfortunately, they host the Knights.

NCAA Football: Central Florida at Houston
Houston Cougars
Maria Lysaker-USA TODAY Sports

November 25 - vs Houston

UCF leads series 4-2
Last meeting: W 44-21, 2020
2022 record: 8-5

UCF and Houston have had some wild games over the years. It was the Cougars who became the first ranked team UCF defeated. UCF won on a goalline stand and on the road via a fumble out of the endzone right before time expired. There is good reason to believe UCF and Houston will be permanent opponents. With both areas having connections to the space program, it’s a natural fit. Last season, despite big preseason expectations, the Cougars failed to live up to expectations.

UCF will not play Texas, TCU, Iowa State, or BYU unless they find each other in the conference championship game.

Well, there you have it. The 2023 conference slate is set. After waiting for the schedule to come out, now we wait some more.