After a couple of blowout wins to start the year, UCF faced a very tough task on Saturday. In what arguably was one of the biggest home games in recent years, the Knights would be taking on a perennial Pac-12 contender and high profile Power Five team in Stanford.
And UCF had no trouble at all.
The Knights dismantled the Cardinal with ease, posting a 45-27 win and earning their best regular season win against a major team in years.
The team also appeared to settle its quarterback debate for good. True freshman Dillon Gabriel, who started for the second straight game, had a fantastic night. He threw for 347 yards and four touchdowns, completing 73 percent of his passes.
UCF put together one of its best offensive quarters in the last few years to start the game. The Knights raced out to a 21-0 lead thanks to the stellar play of Gabriel and several great catches by a number of receivers. At the start of the second quarter, Gabriel already had 186 yards and had thrown for three touchdowns.
The Knights continued to dominate through the second quarter, holding the Cardinal scoreless and tacking on 10 more points. Stanford was held to just 165 yards of offense in the first half, with quarterback K.J. Costello going 9-for-22 for only 61 yards.
UCF went into halftime with a commanding 38-7 lead.
Stanford held onto the ball for much of the third quarter, but the UCF defense was strong enough to keep them from getting back in the game. The Cardinal nailed a 36-yard field goal to cut the lead to 28, but couldn’t narrow that lead anymore before the fourth quarter, despite holding the Knights to just two drives.
Stanford finally got its second touchdown of the day off an impressive catch early in the fourth quarter. But Gabriel responded quickly with his fourth touchdown pass on a short throw to Jake Hescock. He finished the game with more passing yards and passing touchdowns than McKenzie Milton had in any game as a true freshman.
UCF will head out on the road to face Pitt next Saturday.