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Knee-Jerk Reactions: SMU 55, UCF 28

The Knights finish their road schedule with a rough loss against the Mustangs

UCF DE Big Kat Bryant
Photo by George Walker/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

After winning three games against lesser opponents, the UCF Knights got a rough reality check as the SMU Mustangs ran roughshod en route to a 55-28 win. It’s Knee-Jerk Reaction time.

I’m even more offended at how offensive this offense was.

I was offended last week, this week was even worse. Where UCF had 171 yards of offense against Tulane in the first half, they barely mustered a little more than half of that as the Knights only had 92 yards of offense in the first half this week. The score was closer than the game was as the UCF offense could not put a sustained drive together. The Bowser effect was alive and well as without Isaiah Bowser, the running game was non-existent.

UCF RB Mark-Antony Richards
Photo by George Walker/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

In the second half, we got to see more Mark-Antony Richards and one has to wonder why he hasn’t played more. On UCF’s first drive of the half, Richards scored on a 58-yard run. He’s a bigger back that has the size to be an every-down back. With Bowser out, no one else fits the bill and Johnny Richardson is not an every-down back.

While we got to see Jaylon Robinson get his first catch since being hurt against Louisville, there wasn’t much to celebrate.

Overall, UCF only put together 333 yards of offense. Mikey Keene was sacked six times. That isn’t going to win you many games, but SMU is a good team that was playing angry at home after a pair of bad road losses. UCF gets the benefit of playing at the Bounce House the rest of the way against Connecticut and South Florida.

The defense got torched

For as bad as the offense was, the defense was even worse.

SMU made some mistakes early. By going too fast, they missed an opportunity for review to potentially give them a first down, which led to a failed fourth down conversion. Tanner Mordecai threw a rushed interception too. Both of these plays gave UCF a short field the offense was able to score on. Outside of that, SMU has been able to move the ball at will against the Knights, gaining 428 yards of offense in the first half alone. Mordecai threw for nearly 300 yards in the first half, gaining 284 yards on 29/39 passing with a pair of touchdowns and an interception. That’s a full game for many, but Tanner Mordecai has been a prolific passer all year.

It’s never a good sign when the opposing school sets a new single-game school record against your squad. SMU set a new school record of 36 first downs, breaking their old record of 35. SMU gained 631 yards on the day on an outrageous 94 plays.

The rivalry and the “rivalry” await

Next week is Connecticut, which serves as a great opponent to try and work things out that didn’t work against SMU. UConn has been historically bad over the last few years. This also gives players that are nursing injuries an extra week of rest.

On Black Friday, the War on I-4 has its possible penultimate matchup. With UCF moving to the Big 12 most likely in 2023, and with South Florida having a full out-of-conference slate for the next few years, it might be a while before the two teams meet up after the 2022 edition.

One of the above is a rivalry. One is not. I’ll let you figure out which one is which.

Uniform review

It’s obvious that UCF has used decals on white shells that were meant for other colors. This was not one of those as this black with gold flake script Knights worked to perfection on the white shell. Sure the gold flake disappeared when zoomed out, but that’s to be expected. The only hangup is that it was on one side of the helmet again. It really is doing the script logo a disservice by not being on both sides of the helmet. You can’t go wrong with the white Pegasus jersey on the road and the black pants help make the helmet logo pop even more.

UCF QB Mikey Keene
Photo by George Walker/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

Stat Leaders

UCF: Mikey Keene: 18/35 for 174 yards, 1 TD, 0 Int
SMU: Tanner Mordecai: 37/54 for 377 yards, 3 TD, 1 Int

UCF: Mark-Antony Richards: 8 carries for 105 yards, 2 TD
SMU: Ulysses Bentley: 14 carries for 113 yards, 1 TD

UCF: Jaylon Robinson: 2 catches for 50 yards, 0 TD
SMU: Dylan Goffney: 10 catches for 88 yards, 0 TD

Game Notes

  • UCF leads the series 8-2.
  • This was SMU’s first win over UCF since 2011. The Mustangs have never won in Orlando.
  • Sorry it’s not my best, but I got sacked six times.