A whale of a 2017 season will be the bar for UCF Football if you’ve been following along in the 8 months since the New Year’s Chick-fil-a Peach Bowl.

Seventeen starters return – eight on offense, six on defense, and three on special teams – with McKenzie Milton as the first-string quarterback and Heisman candidate hopeful. The Knights’ player infrastructure built up a strong bid to win the American Athletic Conference Championship, according to the AAC preseason poll, with Memphis and USF as the heavy contenders again.

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Heupel brings a high-powered offensive mindset from Mizzou. With that toolbox of offensive and defensive weapons at his disposal, the Knights should make quick work of the Huskies, who were picked as 5th in the East Division preseason poll in Newport, Rhode Island, and finished 3-9 last time around.

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While wide receivers Tre’Quan Smith, Jordan Akins, and others left for the NFL, Dredrick Snelson, Gabriel Davis, Tre Nixon, and Marlon Williams will take their place. Adrian Killins and Otis Anderson will drive the nail down with the experience gained over 13 games in 2017. Both Anderson and Killins delivered game-winning plays that pushed UCF to their highest level.

The Josh Heupel era of Knights football opens undefeated at No. 21 in Hartford, Connecticut as self-proclaimed attacking champions. Tune in at 7 p.m. EST on ESPNU.