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Know the Foe: UCF

The Knights arrive at Raymond James Stadium on a 23-game win streak
UCF running back Adrian Killins Jr. (9) catches a pass in the end zone for a 17-yard touchdown during the first half of an NCAA college football game against Cincinnati Saturday, Nov. 17, 2018, in Orlando, Fla. (AP Photo/Phelan M. Ebenhack)
UCF running back Adrian Killins Jr. (9) catches a pass in the end zone for a 17-yard touchdown during the first half of an NCAA college football game against Cincinnati Saturday, Nov. 17, 2018, in Orlando, Fla. (AP Photo/Phelan M. Ebenhack)
Published Nov. 19, 2018|Updated Nov. 19, 2018

A look at No. 8 UCF, which plays USF on Friday at Raymond James Stadium

Nickname: Knights
Record: 10-0 (7-0 American Athletic Conference)
Wins: at Connecticut, 56-17; South Carolina State, 38-0; FAU, 56-36; Pittsburgh, 45-14; SMU, 48-20; at Memphis, 31-30; at East Carolina, 37-10; Temple, 52-40; Navy, 35-24; Cincinnati, 38-13
Coach: Josh Heupel (first season, 10-0)
S&P+ ranking: Seventh

The breakdown: Even the most devout Bulls fan must admire (through clenched teeth) the Knights' virtually seamless transition from Scott Frost to Heupel, who has helped extend the program's win streak to 23 games. UCF's yardage per play (7.02) is only slightly lower than its 2017 average (7.46). Like his predecessor, Heupel has preserved UCF's blistering tempo and spread the field sufficiently to get the ball to his sleek playmakers in space. The other common denominator is Milton, a fringe Heisman candidate responsible for 33 touchdowns. Though his total yardage per game (318.7) is off a bit from last season (357.7), he's still just as undefeated. Junior Adrian Killins (5-foot-8, 164 pounds) remains the nation's most dangerous scatback (1,212 all-purpose yards), and Ole Miss transfer Tre Nixon (37 catches, 530 yards, four TDs) has added to the embarrassment of riches at receiver. Defensively, the Knights had their best overall performance against Cincinnati, holding the Bearcats to one touchdown and sacking QB Desmond Ridder four times. Now in a 4-3 alignment under first-year coordinator Randy Shannon, they've been vulnerable at times (see Temple) but remain as opportunistic as ever. Their plus-1.6 turnover margin remains the AAC's best. Senior Pat Jasinski (55 tackles, two forced fumbles) remains an Auggie Sanchez-type anchor at middle linebacker, and senior DE Titus Davis had three of his six sacks against Cincy. In the back end, FS Richie Grant is having a career season (team-best 91 tackles, four INTs).

Odds & ends: The Knights have scored 30 or more points in 23 consecutive games. If they do it again Friday, they tie USF (2015-17) for the longest such streak in the AP Poll era (since 1936). … UCF has outscored its opponents 101-23 in the third period. By contrast, USF has been outscored 38-13 in the same quarter over its last three games. … Nine Knights hail from the bay area, but S Kyle Gibson (Armwood) is the only one listed on UCF's two-deep chart.

Audible: "This is the most unique story in college football in my opinion, because it's in the thrust of of continuing to build what it's going to be. Blue-blood programs were built in the '30s and '40s and '50s. We're right in the midst of what's going on here." — Heupel (following the Cincinnati win)

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