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PREVIEW: Knights Aim to Bounce Back vs. Bearcats

Knights can still get back on track toward winning the conference

Derek Warden

This past Monday’s press conference with UCF Knights head coach Gus Malzahn was a unique experience. While he still kept proper decorum and professionalism, there was a tone in Malzahn that many hadn’t heard since the road loss in Louisville in 2021.

Falling to ECU this past weekend set the all-time series against the Pirates to 10-11, likely locking in a losing record to the school against which UCF has played the most.

But as the saying goes, “There’s no place like home”, and that holds true for the Knights who host the Cincinnati Bearcats at 3:30 pm EDT. They may be 1-5 in games outside of the state of Florida under Malzahn, but at the Bounce House, they are 11-1.

Malzahn gave the Pirates their due, as he felt like his squad was “outplayed in all three phases of the game.” With four turnovers on offense and defensive woes on third down, the self-inflicted wounds did their part as well. In the end, the message to the team was clear that the focus would be to minimize errors.

“To have a chance to beat a team like Cincinnati, it’s common sense,” Malzahn said. “You can’t do that.”

With protecting the football being a concern for the offense, the Bearcats' defense might prove a handful. As a leading team in sacks and in tackles for loss in the nation, the Bearcats might represent the biggest challenge for the O-line this season.

Guard Sam Jackson echoed this sentiment himself:

Despite all the doom and gloom, the Knights are still in control of their own destiny in The American. Should they win out, they will punch their ticket to the AAC Championship despite the recent setback.

Saturday would be the first step toward that goal.