What the Knights Learned vs. Tulane

That was more like it.
A feel-good Saturday afternoon at the Bounce House, replete with space uniforms and the Homecoming vibe, translated well.
Will that 51-34 triumph over Tulane be the start of another—or at least similar—multi-season homefield winning streak (the previous 21-game version ended versus Tulsa)?
We'll see.
If nothing else, UCF (3-2 overall, 2-2 in American Athletic Conference play) found that its usual offensive numbers combined with a delicious second period of lights-out defense (and don't forget the importance of those three onside kick recoveries) evolved into a nice recipe for sending Knight fans home happy.
Here are some late takeaways from UCF's return to form:

  1. How about that run game? The Knights ran the ball 59 times Saturday, just five times less than the all-time UCF single-game record. Greg McCrae carried the football eight times more than he had in any other game in his career. Josh Heupel's crew utilized that strategy not only to extend possessions but also to inflict significant damage. UCF's season-high 267 rushing yards came against a Tulane defense that had ranked 25th nationally. The most ground yards the Green Wave previously had allowed were 204 versus run-oriented Navy. Tulane had ranked second in the league while giving up 127.6 ground yards per game. 
  2. A model of efficiency. UCF and Dillon Gabriel now have thrown for at least 400 yards in four of five outings in 2020—and they did it again against Tulane with 422 yards, the ninth-highest single-game total by a quarterback in college football so far this fall. Yet Gabriel's 40 pass attempts and his 26 completions both marked season lows—though the 26 completions still are more than he had in any game in 2019. 
  3. Let's not jinx him. Dillon Gabriel now has thrown 133 straight passes without an interception—including his last 44 vs. Tulsa, 49 at Memphis and 40 vs. Tulane. His last INT came in the first period vs. Tulsa.
  4. In case you missed these. Only three FBS players in the past 15 years have had at least 400 passing yards, five passing touchdowns and zero interceptions in consecutive games. That list includes Dillon Gabriel (vs. Memphis and Tulane), Jared Goff at Cal in 2015 and Joe Burrow at LSU in 2019. UCF as a team has averaged 646.8 yards per game (tops in the nation) through five games. The NCAA single-season record is 640.1 by Mississippi Valley State in 1984, and the FBS record is 624.9 by Houston in 1989. UCF remains ranked number one in total offense (53.2 yards ahead of second place North Texas), passing offense (at 435.6 per game—15.6 yards ahead of second place Nevada) and fumbles recovered (9)—plus third in first downs (153), fifth in scoring (45.2), sixth in turnover margin (plus-1.6). Gabriel is number one in passing TDs (19), passing yards (2,178) and total offense (461.0). Marlon Williams remans number one in receiving yards per game (150.6) and stands fourth in catches per game (10.8).
  5. A new wrinkle to watch the Knights this week. On Saturday at Houston (2 p.m. ET kickoff), UCF makes its first appearance on the ESPN+ streaming service. A subscription is required to see the game—with more details to come this week on how to accomplish that.