The No. 18 Knights will return to Spectrum Stadium on Saturday for a unique matchup. Not only is the meeting between UCF and Austin Peay one that wasn’t initially on the schedule, but it’s also a collision between FBS and FCS. Those type of contests can be one-sided, but the chance for an upset is always there.
“Any time you’ve accomplished what we’ve accomplished to this point, the last thing you want to do is have any kind of letdown,” UCF coach Scott Frost said. “This is a team that I think is a really good FCS team. We’ve got to approach this just like any other game.”
The Governors (5-3, 4-1 Ohio Valley) are having their best season in years. Back on Sept. 16, they snapped a 29-game losing streak that carried back to October 2014. They lost their first two games this year, but since then, have won five of six.
The Knights (6-0, 4-0 AAC) are clicking on both sides of the ball this year. The defense carried the load last season, but the argument can be made that it’s been the offense leading the way in 2017. Frost’s fast-paced offense is rolling over opposing defenses with relative ease. The Knights are tied for first in scoring offense (47.3 points per game) and sixth in total offense (536.5 yards per game).
“We’ve done a good job of mixing it up offensively this year,” Frost said. “We have a lot more playmakers than we did a year ago. I think that makes it tougher on defenses.”
The unit is taking care of the ball, while the defense is forcing the opposition into making mistakes. That has translated to a plus-10 turnover margin, which is the third-best in the country. The dominance on both sides of the ball has led to blowout victories all year long, which has brought UCF into the national spotlight. There is the continuous rise in the polls and talk of a New Year’s Six bowl game. Even with all of that, the team remains focused on what lies immediately ahead.
“Each week, we celebrate after the game and then when Monday hits, it’s back to the drawing boards on the next opponent,” sophomore Adrian Killins said. “You take it one game at a time and you celebrate that game, then move on to the next.”
As easy as it is to overlook, Saturday’s game with Austin Peay is an important one for UCF. After a competitive game at Navy last weekend and before a road trip to SMU next weekend, this weekend’s home game is a chance for the Knights to make sure everything is clicking for the season’s final stretch.
This game against the Governors came about after two cancellations earlier in the season due to Hurricane Irma. UCF lost non-conference home games with Georgia Tech and Maine, which left many fans upset over having just five home games and 10 games altogether. Athletic director Danny White looked to get an additional game back on the schedule, and he eventually found Austin Peay as a match.
“Our guys have put in so much work that they deserve to be able to play games,” Frost said. “Losing two games earlier in the year, we didn’t want to have a 10-game season. I’m grateful that they found another game. 11 still isn’t enough, but 11 is better than 10. Our guys are excited to play. They love playing football and every opportunity they get, they’re gonna cherish it.”
Kickoff for Saturday’s non-conference matchup is set for 5 p.m.