What We Learned vs. SC State

ORLANDO ( – The Knights got the win. UCF defeated South Carolina State 38-0, the exact same score from the home opener in 2016, but what is there to take away from the game moving forward?

Here’s what we learned…

The Knights can dominate even when KZ has an off night
McKenzie Milton had an unbelievable 2017 season, seemingly playing perfectly in nearly every game. He received awards upon awards and broke a multitude of UCF passing records. He was again dominant in the Knights’ first game of 2018, but in the second outing of the season, Milton didn’t quite live up to his own extremely high standard.

Milton went 21-of-39 for 243 yards and threw just one touchdown pass. He also threw three first half interceptions, only the second time he has done that in his three seasons with the Knights.  

Despite all that, the Knights still dominated their opponent, winning 38-0. The defense was stifling, recording its first shutout since the first game of 2016, totaling three interceptions themselves and finishing with four sacks.

The special teams also got it done on Saturday, blocking a field goal attempt and finding room on returns, including a 48-yard punt return from Otis Anderson.

When Milton’s not Milton, the Knights can still be the Knights.

This running back corps is deep and darn good
Needing to step up to propel the offense, a number of UCF running backs stepped up. First Team all-conference speedster Adrian Killins Jr. led the way with eight rushes for 89 yards and two scores, but there were four others that rushed it five times or more against the Bulldogs.

- Greg McCrae went for 62 yards and a score on five attempt
- Otis Anderson rushed eight times for 42 yards and a touchdown
- Bentavious Thompson finished with seven rushes for 34 yards
- Taj McGowan had nine rushes for 33 yards

“We’ve got a deep pool of backs, all of them a little bit different in their skills sets, but they have a lot of similar traits at the same time,” UCF head coach Josh Heupel said. “I thought they did a pretty good job at pressing the line of scrimmage tonight and delivering some of those double teams to the second level, which created some of that space and some of the big runs down the middle of the football field.”

Shake and Bake safeties are the real deal
The Knights safeties like to refer to themselves as “Shake and Bake.” Well there was plenty of shaking up the Bulldogs offense on Saturday, as the UCF safeties baked up three turnovers in the victory.

First Team all-conference senior Kyle Gibson forced the first turnover, picking off South Carolina State quarterback Tyrece Nick in the first quarter. It marked Gibson’s fifth career pick.

Richie Grant, who had his first career interception in the opener at UConn, came up with another one on Saturday, picking off Dewann Ford near midfield in the third quarter.

Backup safety Antwan Collier finally got in on the action in the fourth quarter, intercepting Nick early in the fourth quarter, his first pick since sealing the 2018 Chick-fil-A Peach Bowl in Atlanta.

“I think we did much better. We missed a couple tackles here and there but that’s just football,” Gibson said. “I think we did a tremendous job compared to last week. That was the focal point in practice. It’s just what everyone was pushing for. It’s not about making the big hit but just making the tackle and getting him down.”

Knight Nation is Heuped for 2018
With more season tickets sold than ever before, Spectrum Stadium was electric for the home opener on Saturday. There were more fans at the game than any UCF home opener other than the first game at Spectrum Stadium back in 2007.

With 43,269 fans in the stands, the Knights put on a good show and will welcome Knight Nation back with open arms every game this season.  

Season tickets are going fast for the highly anticipated 2018 campaign. Fans can purchase theirs today and learn about all of their options by calling (407) 823-1000 or visiting us online at