Replay: UCF Numbers Up in Rare Air Again

Maybe it simply marked a coincidence that on the same Homecoming afternoon at the Bounce House that the UCF football squad sported its annual space uniforms the Knights' offensive numbers again looked like something from the outer limits.
Another 689 yards of total offense? That seems like a typical day at the office these weekends for Josh Heupel, Dillon Gabriel and Company.
Gabriel might be the only quarterback in the country who could throw for 422 yards—as he did against Tulane Saturday—and see his per-game average go down.
Another 51 points? Again, that seems to be what the Knights do weekly.
And for Knights fans worried about the UCF defense, that unit allowed 363 yards fewer than it did just one Saturday ago. Tulane's 340 yards marked its season low.
All of that translated into a 51-34 UCF victory, as the Knights (3-2 overall, 2-2 AAC) ended their two-game skid.
Tulane, a team that has been more than a little snake-bit based on its recent series of razor-thin losses, roared out of the gate bent on changing that equation.
The Green Wave marched 69 and 79 yards to scores on its first two possessions.
At the end of those first 15 minutes the visitors led—and freshman quarterback Michael Pratt (a Floridian from Boca Raton) had thrown for more yards than Gabriel.
Then reality—also known as the second period—set in.
UCF in those second 15 minutes outgained Tulane by the astounding total of 305 yards to 15.
The Knights ran 37 offensive plays in that quarter (to 15 by the Green Wave)—on their way to 99 for the day, the second-highest total in any college football game in 2020.
UCF in that second stanza scored four touchdowns, recorded 16 first downs (Tulane had three)—and watched Gabriel complete 12 of his 15 throws for 199 yards. The Knights' TD drives listed as 89, 71, 83 and 67 yards.
At intermission, UCF already had 480 total yards and Gabriel had thrown for 307.
All that so frustrated Tulane that three times in the second half it attempted onside kicks in hopes of stealing a possession. None of them worked.
To the Green Wave's credit, it put together a pair of 75-yard TD drives in the third period and added the only fourth-period points by either team after a 54-yard punt return.
But none of that was even close to enough.
Tulane tried a new-look, rush three, drop eight defensive strategy—but Gabriel carved it up well enough early that the Green Wave abandoned it after intermission.
Even with Gabriel's aerial accuracy, he was hardly the whole story. Marlon Williams had another of what has become a typical day for him with nine catches for 174 yards and three scores. Greg McCrae carried a career-high 25 times for 163 yards. And Gabriel's five TD passes, after that same number last week at Memphis, marked the first time in 33 years a UCF quarterback has done that in back-to-back outings.
There have been 19 individual 400-yard passing efforts so far in 2020—and Gabriel has four of them.
Throw in a season-high 11 tackles for loss, five sacks (two each by Kenny Turnier and Randy Charlton) and a late interception by Derek Gainous—all of which made it even harder for Tulane to keep up.
The home team did not turn the ball over—and, for a change, the time of possession battle easily went to UCF (holding the ball for 34:14), thanks to marches that lasted 15, 14, 14 and 10 plays.
The Knights still had their share of big plays—a 55-yard reception by Jacob Harris, a 54-yarder to Williams, a 54-yard run by McCrae and another 41-yard TD catch by Harris.
UCF converted three of four fourth-down attempts, went 10 of 17 on third down—and punted only one time all day, and that while leading 51-28.
The game ended after UCF held the football for the final 8:29, running off the last 14 plays of the contest, 12 of them on the ground.
And the Knights had only four penalties—none in the opening half.
"The only thing that matters was being plus one," Heupel told his team after it ended.
"Great job competing for all four quarters. It wasn't perfect, doesn't have to be.
"We've got to find a way to be on the right side of the plays that make the difference. We need to fight and play together.
"I'm extremely proud of the way we went through this week. We won the preparation battle, and you came together as a football team.
"And that's what good football teams do."
They'll see if they can add to these decidedly heavenly production numbers one more time.