UCF Welcomes Villanova on Military Appreciation Day

by Justin Wilson

Following a successful road trip to Boise, Idaho, UCF returns to FBC Mortgage Stadium this weekend to host the Villanova Wildcats. Saturday’s kickoff is slated for 6:30 p.m. ET and will air live on Big 12 Now on ESPN+.

Date: Saturday, Sept. 16
Time: 6:30 p.m. ET
TV: Big 12 Now on ESPN+
Talents: Drew Fellios, Forrest Conoly
Radio: FM 96.9/AM 740 The Game
Spanish Radio: UCFKnights.com, YouTube.com/UCFKnights
Live Stats: click here

• Mark the second for the program against Villanova in the second meeting between the programs.
• Give the Knights a 3-0 start to the season for the first time under head coach Gus Malzahn and the first time for the program since 2019.
• Give Gus Malzahn his 98th career win as a head coach, two shy of reaching 100 career victories.
• Be UCF’s 80th home win at FBC Mortgage Stadium since it opened in 2007.
• Be better than a loss


Overall UCF leads, 1-0
in Orlando UCF leads, 1-0
Last Meeting W, 35-16 (9/2/06)
Streak UCF won 1

• In their last outing, the Knights defeated Boise State on the road, 18-16, thanks to a game-winning field goal from kicker Colton Boomer. The sophomore turned in one of the best performances in UCF history, as he tied the program record with a career long 55-yard field goal and also tied the Knights’ single-game record for field goals in a game with four.
• Boomer’s stellar day was capped by hitting the game-winning field goal from 40 yards out. He also became just the second player in UCF football history and the first at the FBS level to convert on two field goals from 50 yards, joining Scott Ryerson who accomplished the feat in 1981.
• UCF accomplished something no other team had accomplished since 2001, as it was the first time in 22 years that the Boise State lost their home opener at Albertsons Stadium. One of the toughest venues in college football, the loss was only Boise State’s 16 at home since 2000, which is the second-best winning percentage in the nation.
• Following the first two games, UCF leads the nation in rushing offense, averaging 323.5 yards per game. The Knights rushed for 258 yards against the Broncos after rushing for 389 yards on 46 carries to set the program record for yards per rush with 8.5 in the season opener against Kent State.
• The Knights also lead the nation in total offense, averaging 626.5 yards per game. UCF compiled 530 total yards against Boise State and surpassed 700 total yards against Kent State with 723 total yards, the most by an FBS team this season.
• Over the first two games, the Knights defense has allowed just 22 points, the fewest over a two-game span since 2021 when UCF allowed seven points at Temple on Oct. 30, 2021 and 10 versus Tulane on Nov. 6, 2021. UCF’s defense ranks 17th nationally in scoring defense with 11.0 per game.

Villanova is in its seventh season under head coach Mark Ferrante, who has compiled a 39-26 record during his time with the Wildcats. The Wildcats compete at the FCS level of college football and compiled a 6-5 record last season, including a 4-4 mark in the Colonial Athletic Association.

Villanova was picked to finish seventh in the CAA Preseason Coaches Poll, but had a couple players garner Preseason All-CAA honors in wide receiver Jaaron Hayek and offensive lineman Michael Corbi. The Wildcats are 2-0 this season with a 38-10 at Lehigh and a 42-19 home win over Colgate on Saturday.

Saturday’s matchup will be the second all-time meeting between UCF and Villanova and the first since 2006 when the Knights came away with a 35-16 victory in the final home opener for the Knights at the Citrus Bowl before FBC Mortgage Stadium opened in 2007.

In the last meeting, UCF quarterback Steven Moffett threw for 199 yards and three touchdowns to the Black and Gold their first win in a season opener in eight years at the time. Kevin Smith, UCF’s all-time rushing leader, had 20 carries for 86 yards and added a touchdown to lead the Knights to victory.

Sophomore Colton Boomer turned in one of the best performances by a kicker in program history, highlighted by hitting a game-winning 40-yard field goal as time expired to lift UCF to an 18-16 victory at Boise State on Saturday. He was a perfect 4-for-4 on field goals, matching the program record for most field goals by an individual in a single game. 

Boomer converted his first try of the day from 50 yards to set a career long at the time. He drilled his next attempt from 33 yards and then tied the program record and topped his previous career long with a 55-yard field goal. Boomer became just the second player in program history to convert on two field goals from 50 yards during the same goal and the first to do it at the FBS level. With three seconds remaining in the game, Boomer completed a perfect day by splitting the uprights from 40 yards out to send the Knights home victorious. 

He accounted for 12 of UCF’s 18 points in the game. 

Boomer was named the Lou Groza Award Star of the Week on Tuesday and the Big 12 Special Teams Player of the Week on Monday.

Wide receiver Kobe Hudson tallied a career-high 134 yards in Saturday’s 18-16 win at Boise State. The senior caught five passes, headlined by a 53-yard catch which was the longest play for either team in the game.

He and quarterback John Rhys Plumlee connected on a 49-yard pass on the first play of the game to ignite the Knights offense. Hudson topped his previous career high of 121 achieved at Memphis last season.

UCF head coach Gus Malzahn announced Monday that quarterback John Rhys Plumlee will miss this weekend’s game against Villanova and redshirt sophomore Timmy McClain will start at quarterback for the Knights. McClain will make his first start in a UCF uniform and the 10th of his career after starting nine games as a true freshman at South Florida before joining the Knights.

Ironically, McClain will make his second start at FBC Mortgage Stadium, as he was the starter for South Florida against UCF on Nov. 26, 2021. The Knights won that matchup 17-13, but McClain was 18-for-29 with 222 passing yards.

The Sanford, Florida, native made his UCF debut in the season opener against Kent State and was 3-for-5 on passing attempts for 53 yards. McClain also rushed two times for 21 yards.

The Knights have had a knack for big plays this season, as UCF tallied nine rushing plays of 10 yards or more and eight passing plays of at least 15 yards in last Saturday’s game against Boise State. Additionally, the Knights had two passing plays result in 40 yards or more and two runs of 30 yards in the 18-16 win against the Broncos.

Versus Kent State, the Knights had 12 running plays eclipse 10 or more yards and nine passing plays of at least 15 yards. 

UCF’s longest pass of the season was a 53-yard completion from John Rhys Plumlee to Kobe Hudson in the Boise State game and the longest rush of the season was a 48-yard touchdown run from RJ Harvey in the Kent State win.

The Knights accomplished something no other team had accomplished since 2001, as it was the first time in 22 years that Boise State lost their home opener.

One of the toughest venues in college football, the loss was only Boise State’s 16 at home since 2000, which is the second-best winning percentage in the nation.

UCF rushed for 200 or more yards in nine of its 14 games last season and has picked up where it left off in its first two games of 2023. The Knights currently own the nation’s top rushing offense with 323.5 yards per game. 

UCF ended the 2022 season ranked ninth nationally with 228.3 rushing yards per game and UCF’s 389 rushing yards in week one against Kent State are the most of any team this season.

UCF scored first in seven games last season and the Knights were a perfect 7-0 when scoring first. This season, the Knights have scored first in both wins.

In three years under head coach Gus Malzahn, UCF is 16-3 when scoring first as the Black and Gold were 7-3 in 2021 when accomplishing the feat.

Malzahn’s team has scored first in 19 of his 29 games as the Knights’ head coach.

UCF’s all-time record of 79-24 (.767) ranks in the top 15 in the nation for best win percentage in a current home stadium. The Knights will look to earn win No. 80 this Saturday against Villanova.

Since 2017, the Knights are 36-4 in home games at FBC Mortgage Stadium.

The Knights finished last season with a 5-2 home record and were undefeated at home in 2021, marking the seventh time in UCF’s FBS era, the ninth overall, and the fourth time in the last five years. 

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 (5-2)
W—South Carolina State
L—Louisville, 20-14, 9-9-22, ended eight-game home win streak)
W—Georgia Tech
W—#20 Cincinnati

2023 (1-0)
W—Kent State

Now in his third season as UCF head coach, Gus Malzahn is just three wins shy of 100 for his career. His 97 victories are the fourth most among active coaches in the Big 12 Conference.

Big 12 Head Coaching Wins
1. Mike Gundy, Oklahoma State, 158-75
2. Lance Leipold, Kansas, 156-56
3. Chris Klieman, Kansas State, 104-49
4. Gus Malzahn, UCF, 97-47
5. Dana Holgorsen, Houston, 89-61

Additionally, Malzahn’s .674 career winning percentage (97-47) ranks among the nation’s top 20 active coaches.