As someone who travels a lot, I know the importance of finding comfort while you’re away from home. It comes in different forms. It could be feeling welcomed by the friendly people you encounter in a particular city. It could be the accommodations that you’ve booked. Or it could something you can’t quantify, but just feels “right” when you visit.
This principle holds true in the college football world as well. Alabama has won 19 straight in Nashville vs Vanderbilt. Ohio State has won 13 straight in Bloomington vs Indiana. Other streaks, to a lesser degree, exist throughout the country at all levels of college football. Sometimes it’s purely due to disparity in talent between teams, but in other cases, one team will simply have another team’s “number”.
UCF doesn’t have the long history of Alabama and Ohio State, plus their time in the American Athletic Conference only dates back to 2013. But based on their brief 5 game history at Temple, the Knights certainly can claim Lincoln Financial Field in Philadelphia as their “home away from home”.
Coming into Saturday’s game at ‘The Linc’, UCF was 3-1 in Philly while averaging 40.8 points per game. In their last 2 meetings, they’ve scored 45 points (2017) and 63 points (2019) respectively. So despite the fact that they were 0-3 on the road in 2021, they had to like their chances of securing a win at Temple.
And once the game kicked off at noon eastern, the Knights immediately found that familiar comfort zone. Everything clicked on all cylinders in what was UCF’s most impressive performance of the season.
On offense, freshman QB Mikey Keene had the best game of his college career. 71.4% completion percentage, 229 yards and 5 TD’s. And the Knights rushing game success provided a balanced attack. 43 carries for 199 yards helped churn out first downs and ease the pressure on their young QB.
Defensively, UCF played their best game of the season. Other than allowing a ‘garbage time’ TD with only 28 seconds in the game, the Knights’ defense dominated throughout. Look at Temple’s drive chart: Turnover on downs, punt, punt, fumble, end of half, fumble, downs, punt, punt, missed FG, TD. Extremely impressive for a team that had given up 56 points in their previous road game at Cincinnati.
UCF improved to 5-3 on the season and 3-2 in conference. With a favorable schedule the rest of the way the Knights have the potential to finish with 8, possibly 9 wins. For a team that features a first-year head coach in Gus Malzahn and is without their star QB Dillon Gabriel, an 8 or 9 win season would be quite an accomplishment.
With UCF’s impending move to the Big 12, Saturday’s game probably will be their last conference road game at Temple. Their invitation to a Power 5 conference is of course a huge accomplishment, especially since their program only started playing FBS football in 1996. So while they’ll no doubt enjoy the greener grass of the Big 12, they’ll most certainly miss playing a Lincoln Financial Field. Their favorite road venue where it’s ‘Always Sunny for UCF in Philadelphia’...