Game Notes: UCF Hosts Navy Saturday on Senior Knight

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After taking down then-No. 17 Tulane with a 38-31 road win last Saturday, UCF now controls its own destiny to win the American Athletic Conference regular-season title and earn a spot in the conference championship game on Saturday, Dec. 3. The Knights host Navy this weekend at 11 a.m. on Saturday at FBC Mortgage Stadium on ESPN2.

Date: Saturday, Nov. 19
Time: 11 a.m.
Talents: Brian Custer, Dustin Fox, Dana Boyle
Radio: FM 96.9/AM 740 The Game
Spanish Radio:
Live Stats: click here

• Keep the Knights unbeaten in AAC home games under Gus Malzahn with an 8-0 record the last two seasons
• Give Malzahn his first win over Navy as head coach in his second meeting against the program
• Be UCF's fourth consecutive win of the season
• Be UCF's third win over Navy in the all-time series
• Be better than a loss


OverallUCF leads, 2-1
in OrlandoUCF leads, 1-0
in AnnapolisSeries tied, 1-1
Last MeetingL, 34-30 (10/2/21)
Last Meeting in OrlandoW, 35-24 (11/10/18)
StreakNavy won 1

• With the win over the Green Wave, the Knights moved up to No. 20 in the third College Football Playoff rankings released on Tuesday night and UCF is also No. 17 in the Associated Press and No. 18 in the American Football Coaches Association (AFCA) Top 25 Polls.

• UCF looks to close out its AAC home schedule with a perfect 4-0 record on Saturday. Dating back to last season, the Knights are 7-0 against conference opponents at FBC Mortgage Stadium.

• UCF's red zone defense continues to rank among the best in the country, as opponents have scored on just 65% of their trips to the red zone, converting on 27-of-41 attempts. The Knights have only allowed 16 touchdowns in the red zone in 41 trips for opponents, a 39% rate. UCF has forced at least one red zone stop in seven of its 10 games this season, headlined by a season-high five red zone stops against Georgia Tech.

• UCF is averaging 497.7 yards of total offense per game this season, which ranks ninth nationally and leads the AAC. UCF's 737 yards of total offense against Temple are the second most of any team in the country this season, behind Ohio State's 763 yards against Toledo. UCF is one of only three teams nationally to surpass 600 yards of total offense in three games this season, joining Ohio State and Tennessee. In addition to the season-high mark in the win over the Owls, the Knights recorded 653 yards in the road win at Florida Atlantic and tallied 605 yards in the season opener against South Carolina State. 

• The Knights' rushing attack is among the best in the nation as well, averaging 249.5 rushing yards per game to rank fifth nationally and lead the AAC. Fifth-year running back Isaiah Bowser is eighth nationally with 13 rushing touchdowns, which also leads the conference. Dating back to the bowl game last year, Bowser has at least one rushing touchdown in nine of his last 11 games, scoring 15 total during that span.

Navy is in its 15th season under head coach Ken Niumatalolo, who has compiled a 108-82 record since taking over the program. Navy has had 10 winning seasons and played in 10 bowl games in Niumatalolo's 14 years to mark one of the greatest eras in school history. The Midshipmen are coming off a 35-32 loss against Notre Dame. Following a slow start, Navy outscored Notre Dame 19-0 in the second half and nearly rallied for the win.

Navy owns one of the top offenses in the nation, as they have rushed for 238.7 yards per game which is second in the AAC behind UCF and 10th nationally. The Midshipmen are also stout against the run defensively, allowing just 85.8 yards to per game to lead the conference and rank sixth nationally.

Saturday's game will be the fourth all-time meeting between the programs, as UCF leads the series 2-1. Last year, Navy earned a 34-30 come-from-behind win against UCF thanks to a big fourth quarter. Leading 30-17 heading into the fourth quarter, the Midshipmen rallied with 17 unanswered points in the final quarter to earn the win.

Navy will make just their second trip to FBC Mortgage Stadium, as UCF earned a 35-24 win in the program's lone trip on Nov. 10, 2018. In that game, quarterback McKenzie Milton passed for 200 yards with two touchdowns and running back Greg McCrae rushed for 101 yards and a touchdown to lead the Knights to victory.

The UCF football team continued its climb in the rankings, checking in at No. 20 in the latest College Football Playoff rankings released on Tuesday night.

Headlined by a season-high 336 rushing yards, the Knights earned a 38-31 road win against then-No. 17 Tulane last Saturday at Yulman Stadium. 

UCF entered rankings after taking down No. 20 Cincinnati on Oct. 29. It marked the first time the Knights have been ranked in the CFP Rankings since 2018 and the first in the AP Poll since week three of the 2020 season. 

The Knights are also No. 17 in the Associated Press and No. 18 in the American Football Coaches Association (AFCA) Top 25 Polls this week.

Fifth-year running back Isaiah Bowser heads into Saturday's game just two rushing touchdowns shy of tying Latavius Murray for the second most in a single season with 15. Bowser currently owns 13 to tie for the sixth most in a single season.

With nine rushing touchdowns this season, quarterback John Rhys Plumlee is one rushing touchdown shy of tying for the second most in single season in program history with 10. Jeff Godfrey accomplished the feat in 2010 and Daunte Culpepper holds the record with 12 rushing touchdowns in a single season set in 1998.

Senior linebacker Jason Johnson enters Saturday's game with 91 tackles on the year and would reach 100 for the season with nine in the contest. He would become the 44th player in UCF history to record 100 or tackles in a single season.

Saturday's game will have an intense focus on the run game, as UCF ranks fifth nationally and leads the conference with 429.5 rushing yards per game. As a triple option offense, Navy is second in the conference and 10th nationally with 238.7 rushing yards per game.

Defensively, the Midshipmen are sixth in the nation against the run yielding just 85.8 yards per game, while UCF has allowed only 123.1 rushing yards per game.

UCF rushed for a season-high 336 yards in the win against Tulane last Saturday. UCF has rushed for 200 or more yards in eight of its 10 games this season and has accomplished the feat in nine of its last 11 games dating back to the win over Florida in last year's bowl game.

The Knights' 2,495 total yards rushing this season are the most in the conference and rank fifth 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
Temple - 41 attempts, 322 yards
East Carolina - 32 attempts, 130 yards
#20 Cincinnati - 52 attempts, 258 yards
Memphis - 42 attempts, 204 yards
#17 Tulane - 54 attempts, 336 yards

UCF looks to close out its American Athletic Conference home schedule with a perfect 4-0 record on Saturday. Dating back to last season, the Knights are 7-0 against conference opponents at FBC Mortgage Stadium. 

In two seasons, UCF head coach Gus Malzahn has lost just one home overall (Louisville, 20-14) and has not lost a home conference game.

UCF has won each of its last three games by seven or fewer points. The Knights started the streak with a four-point win against Cincinnati (25-21), followed by a seven-point road wins against Memphis (35-28) and Tulane (38-31). The last time UCF did that was final three games of 2017 season, defeating USF, Memphis in the AAC Championship Game and Auburn in the Peach Bowl all by seven points.

UCF Defensive coordinator Travis Williams was named one of 51 nominees for the Broyles Award on Tuesday, which presented annually to the nation's top assistant coach. Williams was nominated for the award for the second consecutive season.

Williams is one of four coaches from the American Athletic Conference on the list and one of 24 defensive coordinators.

After improving the UCF defense 70 spots in total defense in his first season, Williams has picked up where he left off in his second season with the Knights' defense ranked 21st nationally in scoring defense (20.0). Thanks to strong play on the defensive end, UCF has recorded two ranked wins in the same season for the first time in program history following the wins against No. 20 Cincinnati and No. 17 Tulane. 

Following his performance against Tulane last weekend, quarterback John Rhys Plumlee was named American Athletic Conference Offensive Player of the Week for the third time this season. He was also tabbed to the Davey O'Brien Great 8 List and named a Manning Award Star of the Week.

Plumlee set the Knights' program record for rushing yards by a quarterback in a single game with 176 on 18 attempts Saturday to lift UCF to a 38-31 win at then-No. 17 Tulane. The previous mark of 122 was held by Vic Penn, who accomplished the feat against Middle Tennessee in 1999.

Playing nearly two hours from his hometown of Hattiesburg, Mississippi, Plumlee ignited the Knights offense early in the game as he raced 47 yards down the field to the three-yard line to set up a Colton Boomer 25-yard field goal on the opening drive of the game. After a quick three-and-out by Tulane's offense, Plumlee took off for a 67-yard touchdown run to give the Knights a 10-0 lead on the longest rush of the season for UCF.

He found the endzone for the second time rushing on the day in the third quarter, scoring on a nine-yard run to give UCF a 31-14 lead.

Plumlee completed 17 passes for 132 yards, connecting with Javon Baker on an eight-yard touchdown pass in the second quarter. 

Plumlee now leads the nation in rushing yards by a quarterback with 708.

UCF All-America long snapper Alex Ward has been named a semifinalist for the 2022 Patrick Mannelly Award, the organization announced on Monday night. Named after former NFL long snapper Patrick Mannelly, the award benefits Bernie's Book Bank, a non-profit that provides books for underserved communities in the Chicago, Illinois, area.
This will be the fourth year the award has been presented to the top FBS snapper. A fifth-year player from Fort Walton Beach, Florida, Ward was named to the 2022 Mannelly Award Preseason Watch List and was one of three finalists for the award last season.

Ward earned third-team All-America honors in 2021 from Phil Steele and also was selected first-team All-American Athletic Conference by Steele. Ward is a preseason third-team All-America pick by Steele for 2022.

The 10 semifinalists will be narrowed to the final three on Monday, Nov. 28.  The three finalists will be invited to the award presentation dinner is set for Saturday, Dec. 10 outside Chicago. 

As UCF looked to secure the win against Tulane last Saturday and keep the clock going, the Knights turned to their fifth-year running back Isaiah Bowser. He rushed 12 times for 41 yards on a 16-play, 75-yard drive in the fourth quarter to chew up 8:07 on the clock. Bowser's incredible runs gave UCF a 38-24 lead after he capped the drive with a one-yard touchdown run to give the Knights a 14-point advantage with only 3:32 remaining.

For the fourth time this season, Bowser found the endzone twice to extend his season total to 13, which leads the AAC. Bowser's first score gave the Knights a 17-7 lead and his second of the day late in the fourth quarter helped put the game away.

In the win against Memphis, UCF perfectly-executed one of its special plays as Isaiah Bowser lined up in the wildcat formation and found wide receiver Stephen Martin for a touchdown on a jump pass from the four-yard line.

It was Bowser's first career touchdown pass and Martin's first career touchdown grab.
UCF's all-time record of 78-23 (.767) ranks in the top 15 in the nation for best win percentage in a current home stadium.

Since 2017, the Knights are 35-3 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 (5-1)
W—South Carolina State
L—Louisville, 20-14, 9-9-22, ended eight-game home win streak)
W—Georgia Tech
W—#20 Cincinnati

UCF's red zone defense continues to ranks among the best in the country at second nationally, as opponents have scored on just 61% of their trips to the red zone, converting on 22-of-36 attempts. The Knights have only allowed 12 touchdowns in the red zone in 36 trips for opponents, a 33% rate. UCF has forced at least one red zone stop in seven of its nine games this season, headlined by three red zone stops at Memphis last weekend.

UCF has been at its best in the fourth quarters of games this season, as the Knights have scored 103 points, which is the most they have scored in any quarter this season. Additionally, UCF's defense has only allowed 48 points in the fourth quarter.