5 Things to Know: UCF vs. Temple

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The last of UCF's trio of three-game packages of football games—with open dates separating them--begins Saturday night at the Bounce House when Temple comes to town.
For the Knights (4-2 overall, 3-2 in American Athletic Conference play), it's a chance to re-generate the momentum created by their top all-around game of the season in a 44-21 Oct. 31 victory at Houston (then unbeaten in league play).
For the Owls (1-4 overall, 1-4 AAC), it's a chance to win on the road for the first time in 2020 (previous away-from-home losses came at Navy, Memphis and Tulane).
For UCF, it's the beginning of a stretch run that features three games in a 14-day span—including one more home date (Nov. 21 vs. Cincinnati) and the regular-season finale on the day after Thanksgiving (at USF).
Here's what's at stake for the Knights in prime time Saturday (7:30 p.m. ET kickoff on ESPNU):

  1. Updating the Owls. Temple hopes to have starting quarterback Anthony Russo (868 passing yards, nine TDs, six INTs) back against the Knights after he missed the last two Owl games with a shoulder injury. Meanwhile, Trad Beatty--who started last week versus SMU in place of Russo—didn't play after halftime due to injury. That leaves Re-al Mitchell (he played in five games at Iowa State last year—with current UCF co-offensive coordinator Alex Golesh then on the Cyclone staff) as the other Temple option. The last time Russo played in the Bounce House in 2018 he threw for a career-high 444 yards and four touchdowns and ran for another. Also expected back this week is tight end David Martin-Robinson, who caught eight passes for 108 yards in the first two Temple games (five for 72 vs. Navy) before missing the last three due to COVID.
  2. The last three-game package. UCF's last three-game pack (featuring a loss to Memphis followed by wins over Tulane and Houston) saw the Knights average 722.7 total yards per game during that stretch, including 450.3 per contest in the air. Dillon Gabriel in those three contests combined was 80 for 122 passing with 12 TD passes and no interceptions. Meanwhile, UCF produced its two highest rushing totals of 2020 in its last two games, averaging 310 ground yards per game in those outings. 
  3. Let's not jinx him. UCF quarterback Dillon Gabriel now has thrown 166 straight passes without an interception—including his last 44 vs. Tulsa, 49 at Memphis, 40 vs. Tulane and 33 vs. Houston. His last INT came in the first period vs. Tulsa (Oct. 3). He boasts the fifth-longest streak in the country, behind only Carson Strong (Nevada) 282, Tyrrell Pigrome (Western Kentucky) 182, Jayden Daniels (Arizona State) 180 and Ian Book (Notre Dame) 168.
  4. Where do the Knights stand this week in the national statistics?
    --#1 in total offense (652.5 yards per game)
    --#1 in passing offense (417.7 yards per game)
    --#1 in fumbles recovered (9)
    --#9 in turnover margin (plus-1.5)
    --#9 in scoring (45.0 points)
    --#16 in rushing (234.8 yards per game)
  5. On an individual basis here's where UCF players show up:
    --Dillon Gabriel #1 in total offense (437.0) and passing yards per game (417.7), #3 in passing yards (2,506), #5 in TD passes (21) and completions per game (27.8), #13 in passing yards per completion (15.0) and #18 in passing efficiency
    --Marlon Williams #1 in receiving yards (840), #2 in receiving yards per game (140.0), #3 in receptions per game (9.8) and #10 in receiving TDs (6)
    --Richie Grant #2 in interceptions (3) and fumbles recovered (2)
    --Jaylon Robinson #7 in receiving yards (709)