UCF-Stanford Preview

STANFORD, Calif. (AP) Central Florida and Stanford would both like to take a mulligan on the start to this season.

After the Knights and Cardinal both opened the season with disappointing losses they head into Week 2 with an increased level of urgency knowing one of these teams will open the season with back-to-back losses.

''There's so much room for improvement,'' Stanford quarterback Kevin Hogan said. ''Everyone would tell you we could have done so many things differently, so many things better. That's the mindset we need. People need to recognize the need for improvement and growth. It was a good lesson for week one.''

It was an all-around disappointing performance for the Cardinal (0-1) in the 16-6 loss at Northwestern. After a promising opening drive for a field goal, the offense was held to three points and 176 yards the rest of the way in Stanford's lowest-scoring game since 2007.

The defense had three costly offside penalties and allowed a 42-yard touchdown run by freshman quarterback Clayton Thorson.

''We did just about everything we could in a first game to help yourself lose a game,'' coach David Shaw said.

It was a similar opener for the Knights, who blew a 14-3 halftime lead and lost 15-14 to Florida International to have a 10-game home winning streak snapped. UCF was held scoreless in the second half and had a 47-yard field goal blocked in the final seconds.

''It opened our eyes,'' H-back Cedric Thompson said. ''Sometimes you may get a little too confident, and the loss really let us know where we're at, and what we have to do to get better. Whenever you lose a game, you obviously don't go into it expecting to lose, so it was just very eye-opening for us.''

The biggest issue for the Knights was a lack of a run game. They rushed for just 46 yards on 30 carries - their lowest total since a season-opening loss to Penn State last season.

''You can't live like that,'' coach George O'Leary said.

Here are some things to watch when the Knights visit Stanford:

THIN LINE: The Cardinal lost more than a game in the opener with defensive lineman Harrison Phillips going down for the season with a knee injury. The defense was already thin at the line and Stanford will now need unproven players like Jordan Watkins, Nate Lohn and Luke Kaumatule to step up.

''It's going to hurt a lot,'' linebacker Blake Martinez said. ''He's a great run-stopper, a great pass defense guy.''

DOUBLE THREAT: One positive to come out of the opener for the Knights was the play of receivers Jordan Atkins and Tre'Quan Smith. Adams had nine catches for 105 yards and two touchdowns, while Smith also had nine catches for 104 yards. It marked the 22nd time the Knights had a pair of 100-yard receivers in the same game.

PROTECTION PLAN: The Cardinal offense struggled in part because of suspect line play. Hogan was sacked three times and under constant pressure, while the running game failed to get going with just 104 yards. The lack of time and holes led to a lack of big plays as Stanford had just one that went for at least 20 yards.

''Protecting the quarterback is paramount, especially against a team that brings pressure like this team,'' Shaw said.

LONG TRIP: The Knights will play their first game ever in California and will have their longest trip west since playing a bowl game in Hawaii in 2005. UCF did have a longer trip last year with a game in Ireland. Complicating factors even more will be the late-night start. Kickoff is scheduled for just after 7:30 p.m. local time, which is 10:30 p.m. EDT.

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AP Sports Writer Kyle Hightower in Orlando, Florida, contributed to this report.

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AP college website: collegefootball.ap.org

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