When UCF takes the field on Saturday, players will be dressed in sky blue jerseys as part of their annual Space Game tradition.
The Knights know everyone will be excited about the debut of this year’s uniforms, but they also hope it helps the team regain its mojo at FBC Mortgage Stadium.
UCF has lost consecutive games (Baylor, West Virginia) at home for the first time since 2016.
Adding to the excitement is hosting No. 15 Oklahoma State, which sits atop the conference standings. The last time UCF hosted a ranked team at the Bounce House was No. 20 Cincinnati last season when the Knights pulled off a 25-21 upset.
How can UCF contain Oklahoma State’s Ollie Gordon? | Analysis
“This is our kingdom,” fifth-year senior offensive lineman Lokahi Pauole said. “They have to stop us on offense and they have to put up some points against our defense. “I’m excited to play this game.”
Sophomore defensive back Nikai Martínez added: “It’s going to be very important to get this win at home. Honestly, I don’t even remember the last home win. Being able to get this win for UCF, for us, and for the fans who deserve it, would definitely help us move forward for the rest of the season.”
Saturday’s game has been a sellout for quite some time and the Knights have averaged close to capacity (44,109 fans) in their previous four home games.
UCF needs to win two of its three remaining games to be eligible to play in the bowl. The last time the program did not qualify for a bowl game was in 2015.
“It’s the same formula. We have to win as a team,” offensive coordinator Darin Hinshaw said. “Whatever the situation is, the offense has to step up when it’s its time and the defense has to step up when it’s its time and we have to do it as a team.”
Coach Gus Malzahn said: “We need to get a home win for our fans. “Our fans have been really good and phenomenal.”
Coaches: Malzahn, third season at UCF, 22-14 (99-42 overall); Mike Gundy, 19th season at Oklahoma State, 163-77 (163-77 overall).
Quick tilt: This is the first meeting between these programs. … Oklahoma State is 5-4 in games played in Florida. Four bowl game victories occurred, including victories in the 2017 Camping World Bowl (Virginia Tech, 30-21) and the 2020 Cheez-It Bowl (Miami, 37-34). … Malzahn is one win away from reaching 100 wins.
UCF wants to build momentum heading into final 3 games
About UCF (4-5, 1-5 Big 12): Quarterback John Rhys Plumlee continues to return to the starting job after missing three games with a knee injury. Plumlee ran for 53 yards and a touchdown, his fourth of the season in the win against Cincinnati. … Running back Tre’mon Morris-Brash leads the conference in tackles for loss (16.5) and his 8 sacks are the most by a Knight since Shaquem Griffin (11) in 2016.
About Oklahoma State (7-2, 5-1 Big 12): Quarterback Alan Bowman is coming off his second 300-plus yard performance after throwing for 334 to lead the Cowboys to a 27-24 victory over Oklahoma in the Bedlam Series. He has started the last eight games, leading OSU to 6-2. …Linebacker Nickolas Martin leads the conference in tackles (92) and is fourth in tackles for loss (11.5).
3 things to see
Slow down, Ollie Gordon. UCF’s defense faces perhaps its biggest challenge with the second-year running back leading the country in rushing yards (1,225), rushing yards per game (136.1), yards after contact (742) and 100-yard games (6). The Knights have allowed eight 100-plus yard rushers, including Cincinnati’s Corey Kiner (114) and Ryan Montgomery (113) last week.
Keep RJ Harvey going. The Knights feature their own talented running back in Harvey, who ranks fifth in rushing yards per game (97.3), fourth in rushing yards (876) and yards after contact (542) and second in rushing touchdowns (9). . The senior has rushed for at least 100 yards in four consecutive games and could become the program’s first 1,000-yard rusher since Greg McCrae in 2018.
Three things learned from UCF’s victory in Cincinnati
Avoid turnovers. UCF didn’t turn the ball over once in its win against Cincinnati last week. It was the third time the Knights did not commit a turnover. The team is 2-1 in those games.
Where: FBC Mortgage Stadium
When: 3:30 pm
TELEVISION: ESPN; Radio: AM 740/FM 96.9 The Game, Sirius/XM 199
Climate: 83 degrees, 0% chance of rain
Favorite: Oklahoma State 2.5 points
Online: orlandosentinel.com/knights; @osmattmurschel on X(Twitter).
Email Matt Murschel at email@example.com or follow him on Twitter at @osmattmurschel.