The UCF Knights will look to build upon their week one success as they hit the road for the first time this season to challenge the Florida Atlantic Owls on Saturday at 7 p.m.
Despite missing a day of practice and campus being closed a majority of the week due to Hurricane Dorian, UCF head coach Josh Heupel said in a Thursday press conference the team made up for the day and is excited about the opportunity to play at FAU Stadium in Boca Raton, Florida.
The Knights bulldozed their way to a shutout victory against the Florida A&M Rattlers on Aug. 29, totaling nearly 700 yards of offense and limiting the Rattlers to only 96 total yards – only four of which were rushing.
Meanwhile, the Owls fell short of the No. 5 Ohio State Buckeyes and were defeated 45-21 in their season opener in Columbus, Ohio, on Aug. 31.
Despite the Buckeyes jumping out to an early 28-0 lead in the first quarter, the Owls found their rhythm in the second half, scoring 18 points in the third and fourth quarters. FAU finished the game with 228 total yards – 22 yards on the ground – allowing 469 yards to the Buckeyes.
Looking forward, UCF will continue rely on its running attack. In the season opener against the Rattlers, the Knights totaled 338 yards on the ground, with senior running back Adrian Killins Jr. responsible for 108 yards.
Beyond Killins Jr., the Owls will also need to find a way to slow the depth of UCF’s running back core.
In terms of the Knights’ offense, Heupel said he is looking to see the quarterbacks continue to grow from where they left off week one as the team heads into week two.
“Handling what we’re doing, handling the tempo, decision-making, being accurate with the football – all the things we want them to do,” Heupel said. “Last week was week one, step one of our journey. We have to take a big jump here.”
When asked if redshirt senior quarterback Brandon Wimbush would start on Saturday, Heupel said he “doesn’t see anything different at this point.” He said true freshman quarterback Dillon Gabriel is likely to make an appearance in the first half again.
Wimbush started things off for the Knights and finished the night 12-for-23 with 168 yards and two touchdowns.
Despite the graduate transfer from Notre Dame having a respectable stat line and being the more seasoned QB, Gabriel also stood in the spotlight as he took the field and threw a touchdown on his first collegiate drive in the season opener. Gabriel finished the night 9-for-13 on 127 yards and three touchdown passes to three different receivers.
Heupel said he expects this road game will not be much different from playing at home.
“Offensively, you got to handle the crowd noise a little bit,” he said. “But I anticipate us having a large contingency down there as well.”
The two teams have only matched up twice in history – the Knights defeated the Owls 56-36 at home last season and in 2003, the Knights defeated the Owls 33-29.
UCF and FAU will kick off at 7 p.m. at FAU Stadium, and can be seen on the CBS Sports Network or heard on 96.9 FM and 740 AM.
Knight News Reporter Megan Turner contributed to this article.