Game Notes: UCF Hosts Temple in Annual Space Game Thursday Night

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UCF opened American Athletic Conference play with a 41-19 victory against SMU last Wednesday and the Knights will host Temple in their annual Space Game on Thursday night. Kickoff is set for 7 p.m. from FBC Mortgage Stadium and the game will air live on ESPN. 

Date: Thursday, Oct. 13
Time: 7 p.m.
Radio: FM 96.9/AM 740 The Game
Spanish Radio:
Live Stats: click here

• Be UCF's eighth win over Temple in the all-time series
• Give the Knights their seventh consecutive home AAC win and 2-0 start to conference play this season
• Give Head Coach Gus Malzahn his second win over Temple in his second meeting against the program
• Keep the Knights unbeaten in their annual Space Game (Currently 5-0)
• Be better than a loss


OverallUCF leads, 7-2
in OrlandoUCF leads, 3-1
Last MeetingW, 49-7 (10/30/21)
StreakUCF won 5

• UCF is one of only seven FBS teams to play five of their first six 2022 games in their home stadium. The Knights played South Carolina State and Louisville at home, went on the road to play FAU, followed by three straight home games versus Georgia Tech, SMU and Temple.

• The Knights defense has been stellar this season, as UCF leads the nation in red zone defense. Opponents have scored on just 47% of their trips to the red zone, converting on 9-of-19 attempts. The Knights have only allowed four touchdowns in the red zone in 19 trips for opponents.

• UCF is also among the top 15 nationally in scoring defense, limiting teams to just 14.6 points per game to rank 12th nationally. The Knights have not allowed a team to score more than 20 points in a game this season and have only allowed one touchdown in the fourth quarter. 

• UCF's nine points allowed in the fourth quarter are the second fewest of any FBS team in the nation, behind Illinois which has only allowed seven points in the fourth quarter.

• Following the first six weeks of the season, UCF is one of just three FBS teams (Ohio State and Oregon) to surpass 600 yards of total offense in more than one game this season. The Knights recorded a season-high 653 yards in the road win at Florida Atlantic and also tallied 605 yards in the season opener against South Carolina State. 

• UCF's 653 yards of total offense against Florida Atlantic are the most by a team in the AAC this season and the 11th most by an FBS team in a single game this season.

• UCF is averaging 252.6 rushing yards per game, which ranks fourth nationally and leads the AAC. Fifth-year running back Isaiah Bowser is seventh nationally with eight rushing touchdowns, which also leads the conference. Dating back to the bowl game last year, Bowser has at least one rushing touchdown in five of his last six games, scoring 10 total during that span.

Temple is in its first season under head coach Stan Drayton, after he spent the previous five seasons with the Texas Longhorns as the associate head coach and run game coordinator working with the running backs. The Owls are off to a 2-3 start to the season and an 0-1 start in conference play. In their last outing on Oct. 1, Temple was defeated on the road at Memphis, 24-3. Temple is coming off of its bye week.

Temple has one of the best defenses in the country, allowing just 16.8 points per game to rank 20th nationally and third in the AAC. The Owls' special teams units have been particularly good with the team blocking three kicks this season to tie for fifth among FBS teams.

Thursday's game will be the 10th all-time meeting between the programs, as UCF owns a 7-2 advantage in the series headlined by winning the last five meetings. The Knights are 4-1 against the Owls at home and have won the last two home meetings, including a 52-40 victory in 2018 which was also played on a Thursday night.

In the last meeting, UCF compiled 428 yards of total offense with 229 yards passing and 199 rushing. Quarterback Mikey Keene was 15-for-21 passing with five touchdown passes in that game. Alec Holler and Ryan O'Keefe each reeled in a couple of receiving touchdowns to leads the Knights to the win.

The #UCFinSpace game has been played annually since the 2017 season and the Knights are 5-0 all-time in space games. The game recognizes the University of Central Florida's roots, founded as Florida Technological University in 1963 with the mission of providing personnel to support the growing U.S. space program at the Kennedy Space Center and Cape Canaveral Air Force Station. As the academic scope expanded beyond its original focus on engineering and technology, the school was renamed the University of Central Florida in 1978.

#UCFinSpace History
Oct. 22, 2021 - W, 24-7, Memphis
Oct. 24, 2020 - W, 51-34, Tulane
Nov. 2, 2019 - W, 44-29, Houston
Nov. 1, 2018 - W, 52-40, Temple
Oct. 14, 2017 - W, 63-21, ECU

#UCFinSpace Facts
- UCF is No. 1 nationally for placing graduates in aerospace industry jobs.
- In 1968, UCF established its motto: "Reach for the Stars" to represent the University's promising aerospace education in engineering, electronics and other technological professions.
- 29% of Kennedy Space Center employees are UCF Alumni.
- The 50-yard line of FBC Mortgage Stadium is on the exact latitude as Launch Complex 39A, NASA's most historic launch pad, 31 miles to the east.

Thursday's game will mark the 100th game played at FBC Mortgage Stadium since the stadium opened prior to the 2007 season. 

UCF's all-time record of 76-23 (.767) ranks in the top 15 in the nation for best win percentage in a current home stadium.

Since 2017, the Knights are 33-3 in home games at FBC Mortgage Stadium.

The Knights finished last season undefeated at home, marking the seventh time in UCF's FBS era, the ninth overall, and the fourth time in the last five years.

Only 22 teams in the nation completed the 2021 regular season undefeated at home.

UCF at Home
2017 (7-0)

W—Florida International (8-31-17)
W—East Carolina
W—Austin Peay
W—#22 South Florida
W—#16 Memphis (AAC Championship)

2018 (8-0)
W—South Carolina State
W—Florida Atlantic
W—#19 Cincinnati
W—Memphis (AAC Championship)

2019 (6-0)
W—Florida A&M
W—East Carolina
W—South Florida

2020 (2-2)
L—Tulsa (34-26, 10-3-20, ended 21-game home win streak)
L--#7 Cincinnati (36-33, 11-21-20)

2021 (7-0)
W—Boise State
W—East Carolina
W—South Florida

2022 (3-1)
W—South Carolina State
L—Louisville, 20-14, 9-9-22, ended eight-game home win streak)
W—Georgia Tech

The Knights defense has been outstanding this season, as UCF leads the nation in red zone defense. Opponents have scored on just 47% of their trips to the red zone, converting on 9-of-19 attempts. The Knights have only allowed four touchdowns in the red zone in 19 trips for opponents.

Quarterback John Rhys Plumlee threw for 300 yards for the third time this season, which is tied for the AAC lead. After completing 10-of-17 pass attempts for 90 yards in the first half, Plumlee was on fire after halftime. He completed 6-of-7 passes for 148 yards with a touchdown in the third quarter to help the Knights erase a three-point halftime deficit and lead 24-13 after the third quarter. 

In the final quarter, Plumlee was 4-of-5 for 78 yards with a touchdown to finish the second half 10-of-12 for 226 yards and two touchdowns. For the game, Plumlee was 20-of-29 for 316 yards with two touchdowns and he contributed 27 yards rushing.

Wide receiver Javon Baker enjoyed a breakout game in the win over SMU, as the junior reeled in six passes for a career-high 138 receiving yards. That total ranks among the top receiving performances by a player in the American Athletic Conference.

For the season, Baker leads the Knights with 395 yards receiving with a pair of touchdowns.

Senior wide receiver Ryan O'Keefe put together his best performance of the season against SMU, catching six passes for 117 yards with a pair of touchdowns. 

It marked the third time in his career that the Austin, Texas, native has surpassed 100 yards in a single game.

Baker's 138 receiving yards and O'Keefe's 117 receiving yards marked the first time a pair of Knights receivers have surpassed 100 yards in the same game since Marlon Williams and Jaylon Robinson accomplished the feat against Temple on Nov. 13, 2020.

UCF is one of just four AAC schools to have more than one 100-yard receiver in a game, joining Cincinnati, SMU and Tulsa.

UCF's halftime adjustments in the SMU game were felt almost immediately in the second half, as the Knights scored 31 points and limited SMU to just six. UCF's 31 second-half points were the most in a second half since Oct. 26, 2019, against Temple when the Knights scored 35 points in the second half.

After gaining 145 offensive yards in the first half, UCF had 204 in the third quarter alone and 339 total yards in the second half.

UCF rushed for 160 yards in the win against SMU and the Knights are fourth in the country in rushing offense, averaging 252.6 per game. UCF has rushed for 200 or more yards in four of its five games this season and has accomplished the feat in five of its last six games dating back to the win over Florida in last year's bowl game.

The Knights' 1,263 total yards rushing this season are the most in the conference and rank No. 16 nationally.

UCF Rushing Totals By Game
South Carolina State - 49 attempts, 297 yards
Louisville - 38 attempts, 208 yards
at Florida Atlantic - 56 attempts, 314 yards
Georgia Tech - 56 attempts, 284 yards
SMU - 40 attempts, 160 yards

The UCF defense has not allowed an opponent to score more than 20 points in a game this season - the only team in the American Athletic Conference to accomplish the feat.

Additionally, the Knights have allowed just 73 points this season, which is the fewest any team in the conference has allowed.

UCF is 12th nationally in scoring defense, yielding 14.6 points per game.

UCF has allowed just one touchdown in the fourth quarter this season, as the Knights are outscoring opponents, 52-9, in the quarter. UCF's nine points allowed in the quarter are the second fewest of any FBS team in the country.

National Rankings
1. Illinois: 7 (1.4)
2. UCF: 9 (1.8)
3. Iowa State: 10 (1.6)
4. Alabama: 12 (2.0)
5. Baylor: 13 (2.6)
    James Madison: 13 (2.6)
7. Ohio State: 14 (2.8)
    San Jose State: 14 (2.8)
9. Kentucky: 16 (2.7)
10. Miami: 17 (3.4)

() indicates average points allowed in fourth quarter this season