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Knee-Jerk Reactions: UCF 49, UConn 17

The most intriguing matchup that wasn’t intriguing at all.

UCF QB Mikey Keene dives in for a touchdown.
Noah Goldberg, Black and Gold Banneret

In what used to be an American Athletic Conference matchup, the matchup between the UCF Knights and UConn Huskies felt more like a late season cupcake on a SEC team’s schedule than a game of importance. UCF opened up 28-0 and never looked back en route to a 49-17 win. It’s time for some knee-jerk reactions.

Vegas had high expectations for UCF...or was it low expectations for UConn?

Considering the line in games against ECU, Navy, and SMU, I’d say Vegas expects a lot from UCF. It wasn’t until the fourth quarter, but UCF was able to get ahead of the 30.5 point spread.

UCF’s offense once again showed its opportunism early, scoring touchdowns on their first two drives while starting on UConn’s side of the field. The Knights scored on their first four drives that consisted of 45, 47, 55, and 98 yards. After building a big 28-0 lead, the offense started cooling off, scoring only once over the next six drives.

Mikey Keene was efficient, going 23/29 for 208 yards and two touchdowns. Most of that was in the first half as he went 16/19 for 138 yards and a touchdown before halftime. He also scored on a 30-yard run in the first half. His UConn counterpart Steven Krajewski was not as fortunate, going 12/23 for 131 yards, a touchdown and three interceptions. More on Krajewski and the UCF defense later.

RB Johnny Richardson scores a touchdown
Noah Goldberg, Black and Gold Banneret

Coming off one of those first half interceptions, Ryan O’Keefe had a great 49-yard touchdown pass to Brandon Johnson on the next play. O’Keefe is 2/2 on the season with two touchdowns. Maybe he should throw the ball more?

While O’Keefe had a great game, Johnny Richardson had himself a bigger game, running for 147 yards and a touchdown on only 14 carries. All in all, four different players had rushing touchdowns for the Knights.

The defense played center field

The Knights were able to get three interceptions in the first half. The had a couple opportunities for more that didn’t work out, but the defense showed a good eye for the ball, including a Divaad Wilson interception that had him track a slightly overthrown ball that looked like it was thrown more to him than the receiver. The highlight play was an interception by Cam Goode. As he said during the postgame interview, he saw the running back breaking away, he reached his arms out and hoped to connect with the ball. Connect he did.

UCF DL Ricky Barber and Josh Celiscar pressure UConn QB Steven Krajewski
Noah Goldberg, Black and Gold Banneret

The Knights defense as a whole was just too much for the Huskies to handle. Led by Big Kat Bryant, the defense had 5 sacks(33yds), 9 tackles for loss(40yds), 7 quarterback hurries, and 8 pass breakups. Steven Krajewski struggled to build any consistency. The defensive line created a lot of pressure and the defensive backfield was able to prevent too many big plays. The Huskies struggled badly on third down, going 3/14. It was far from a flawless game for the Knights, but it was a good bounce back game after getting gashed against SMU.

It’s #usfhateweek

There is only one game left in the regular season. South Florida will be traveling east to central Florida* for the penultimate “War on I-4” matchup before UCF moves to the Big 12 and leaves the Bulls behind in the AAC. This may be the last home game against South Florida for a while as they have a full out-of-conference schedule for the next handful of years. I’m quite confident the two will meet on the football field again. It just might take a while though.

As linebacker Tatum Bethune said during the postgame interview, “I don’t like ‘that team’. I hate them. That’s really all I can say right now.”

While this week was about this little guy, next week is about a bigger trophy. After next week, it’s bowl season for UCF.

A trophy for something. Anyone know what it’s for?
Andrew Gluchov

*For the record, I did very well in geography when I was in school. They’re the confused ones.

Uniform review

NCAA Football: Connecticut at Central Florida
UCF QB Mikey Keene shows off the salute to service helmet
Mike Watters-USA TODAY Sports

UCF has always found ways to honor our armed forces through their helmets and this year is no different. UCF has used a red, white, and blue block before and it’s always looked good. The kicker this year is the expanded use of the helmet stripe. Much like the space game, UCF went away from the sword stripe for a wider one which gives them the ability to add more to it. In this case, they were able to have the various armed forces on the stripe. The white helmet sticks out more when combined with anthracite tops and bottoms for an enjoyable aesthetic.

Stat Leaders

Passing
UCF: Mikey Keene: 23/29 for 208 yards, 2 TD, 0 Int
UCONN: Steven Krajewski: 18/42 for 174 yards, 0 TD, 3 Int

Rushing
UCF: Johnny Richardson: 14 carries for 147 yards, 1 TD
UCONN: Nate Carter: 13 carries for 77 yards, 1 TD

Receiving
UCF: Brandon Johnson: 7 catches for 125 yards, 1 TD
UCONN: Jay Rose: 10 catches for 89 yards, 0 TD

Game Notes

  • UCF leads the series 6-2.
  • This was UCF’s 500th football game.
  • This win guarantees UCF will have a winning season regardless of the bowl game.
  • Punter Andrew Osteen moves into 4th place in school history with 6,671 punt yards, passing Aaron Horne (6,493). Osteen is still second in school history in punting average (42.2yds).
  • Sorry it’s not my best, but I got stuck on I-4 trying to get to the game.