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UCF Hits a School Record 8-0 With Win Over SMU

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UCF perseveres over SMU in the Knights’ first truly close game of the season.

NCAA Football: Central Florida at Southern Methodist Tim Heitman-USA TODAY Sports

UCF played sloppy throughout and still beat a team that had its best start in thirty years.

A trio of disasters hampered the Knights in the early going. A failed fourth and short. Surrendering an enormous 86 yard yard catch and run touchdown to SMU wide receiver James Proche. And a bad McKenzie Milton pick, where he threw behind Tre’Quan Smith.

The mistakes did not end there. Milton chucked a pick six in the first half (he could have chucked another with 7:52 in the fourth quarter, but it was dropped). And in the third quarter, TE Jordan Akins had a fumble in the end zone.

But that was all ultimately fine. The Knights got some tremendously explosive plays out of the periodically inconsistent offense. Adrian Killins, Jr. had two highlight touchdown runs, one for thirty-four yards in the second quarter and one for sixty-four yards in third. Killins is college football’s fastest player and supplies more evidence in that regard every week or so.

Of course, we know that Twitter star @TJL_SUdad has pioneered “cheese and bread” as the Killins long touchdown run catch phrase. But this is a game that makes me believe that 1990s hyperviolent comic book duo Milk and Cheese might the more appropriate comparison.

(If I show you the meaningless comic book panel, I also have to show you the highlight, right? Right.)

And it’s not like it was all bad for Milton. Far from it. Despite the turnovers and relative lack of accuracy, he rang up 412 passing yards, the most since Blake Bortles’s performance against Temple in 2013 (you’ll remember that game as The Catch. right? RIGHT?!).

The UCF defense was . . . largely forgettable. The Knights suffered from some of the tackling problems on display against Cincinnati, Austin Peay, and (to a lesser extent) against ECU. But throughout the game they made some big stops on third down. And they weren’t without their own highlights. UCF Safety Kyle Gibson had a crucial recovery of a fumble by a driving SMU in the end zone for a touchback.

Ultimately, the play of the game came with a bit over five minutes left in the fourth quarter. SMU wide receiver Trey Quinn dropped what should have been a certain fourth down catch on the UCF side of the field (on paper, Quinn is the closest to a sure thing one might expect - he’s the AAC’s leading receiver). It was immediately followed by a Killins run that ripped into SMU territory.

But the Mustangs still had a chance. With about three minutes left in the fourth, the Mustangs sacked Milton and knocked the Knights out of field goal range. Down seven, the Ponies had the ball deep on their side of the field with 2:55 seconds left.

. . . The drive ended with a turnover on downs.

But look, the Mustangs continue to look like a profoundly dangerous team. SMU quarterback Ben Hicks was largely on point (yes, he seemed to panic at times, but still). He ended up going 27/51 for 283 yards, a touchdown, and 54 yards rushing. He did not turn the ball over. And his receivers often made clutch catches. James Proche ended up with 7 receptions for 173 yards (including the ridiculous early touchdown catch). Trey Quinn (despite the huge drop) caught eleven passes, while Courtland Sutton held his own against UCF’s stellar CB Mike Hughes and caught five pases for 46 yards. They were helped by the Mustang’s rushing attack - Xavier Jones ran 19 times for 84 yards and a touchdown, with Braeden West chipping in for 55 yards as well.

UCF now has the largest active streak of scoring thirty or more points per game. Hey, I know a bitter rival who wishes they owned that streak.

The Mustangs move on to a key divisional game against Navy. The Knights will have the UConn Huskies at home.

And hey! Ashley Frost didn’t give birth during the game. Thank goodness. Every dad deserves to be there for the birth of his child (mom has no choice but to be there. Sorry, mothers. I’ve seen it go down, and you are the heroes).