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Know Thy Foe: Florida Atlantic

UCF goes on the road for the first time against South Florida’s newest rival

Central Florida v Florida Atlantic
Last time UCF played at FAU in 2019, Otis Anderson had himself a day.
Photo by Mark Brown/Getty Images

We continue previewing all 12 opponents the UCF Knights will face on the gridiron in 2022 with the first road game of the year, although it’s still within the Sunshine State, against the FAU Owls.

Week 3: FAU Owls

Kickoff: Saturday, September 17th, 7:30 p.m. ET, FAU Stadium, Boca Raton, Florida

TV: CBS Sports Network

Series: UCF leads 3-0

Last Meeting: 2019 — #18 UCF won 48-14

The score says it all. It was UCF’s first game in Boca, and Knight Nation showed out both on the field and in the stadium, even despite some reportedly dreadful gameday crowd management by FAU:

About the Owls

This Season: Picked 4th in Conference USA

Last Season: 5-7, 3-5 in Conference USA

In Willie Taggart’s first year, FAU showed some signs early, getting off to a 5-3 start, but then collapsed, losing their final four games, and failing to score more than 17 points in any of them.

Cincinnati’s 2021 Team Stats and Rankings

Category Offense AAC Rank FBS Rank Defense AAC Rank FBS Rank
Category Offense AAC Rank FBS Rank Defense AAC Rank FBS Rank
Rush Yards 173.3 4th 56th 149.1 5th 62nd
Pass Yards 241.2 6th 58th 169.2 1st 2nd
Total Yards 414.5 5th 58th 318.4 2nd 10th
Points 36.4 2nd 13th 16.9 1st 5th

Key Stats: 71.4% Red Zone Defense (9th best in FBS), 31.8% 3rd Downs Allowed (T-8th best in FBS)

Head Coach: Willie Taggart

COLLEGE FOOTBALL: SEP 11 Georgia Southern at FAU
Willie Taggart
Photo by Aaron Gilbert/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

Willie enters year three in his third stop within the state of Florida, which is tied for his second-longest stint anywhere with his first head coaching job at Western Kentucky. He won a bowl in his first year in Boca but last year’s collapse kept the Owls out of the postseason for the first time since 2018.

True fact: The last time Willie Taggart faced UCF, he won (at South Florida in 2016).

Key Players

#7 N’Kosi Perry — QB

Graduate Student | 6-4, 198 lbs | 2021: 61%, 2766 yards, 20 TD/7 INT, 160 rush yards, 4 rush TDs

Perry played pretty well in his first season at FAU after leaving Miami, where he was highly recruited but didn’t live up to those expectations. But last season was the best season of his college career. His best game was against FIU:

#4 Teja Young — DB

Redshirt Junior | 5-11, 192 lbs | 2021: 59 tackles, 3 INTs (2 pick-sixes), 8 passes defended

Teja Young (#4)
Photo by Aaron Gilbert/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

Young is FAU’s top returning tackler and was an All-C-USA Honorable Mention pick, as well as an All-C-USA pick by Pro Football Focus. He was a bright spot on an otherwise average defense under DC Mike Stoops, who left FAU to be the Linebackers Coach at Kentucky.

Other Stuff To Know

  • This is UCF’s only true road game in the entire first half of the season. The Knights don’t play a game outside the state of Florida until October 22nd.
  • FAU’s only win against an FBS team from the state of Florida other than FIU was against South Florida in 2013.
  • FAU has won three conference titles — one in the Sun Belt (2007) under Howard Schnellenberger and two in C-USA (2017 and 2019) under Lane Kiffin.
  • They are also 4-1 in bowl games all-time, but their lone loss was in the Montgomery Bowl against Memphis in Willie Taggart’s first year.
  • The Owls are moving to The American next season. Brian White, their Athletic Director, is the brother of former UCF A.D. Danny White.
  • The closest-ever meeting between UCF and FAU was the first, back in 2003. FAU was an FCS Independent in its third-ever season under Howard Schnellenberger. UCF squeaked out of the Citrus Bowl with a 33-29 victory that day. Ryan Schneider threw for a then-school record 497 yards, and UCF would need all of them because FAU was stopped on the final possession in UCF territory. Schneider’s passing record stood until 2020, when Dillon Gabriel broke it against Memphis. The Owls would go 11-3 and reach the Division I-AA Semifinals that season, while UCF would finish 3-9, fire Mike Kruczek with two games to go and hire George O’Leary.

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