- The Knights will be without an injured McKenzie Milton, who won the AAC Offensive Player of the Year award in 2017 and '18. Will the offense continue to roll with Brandon Wimbush under center?
Our college football 2019 season preview issue is here, which means we're checking in with all 25 teams from SI's official preseason Top 25 ranking. What do you need to know about each of this year's top contenders, from top-ranked Alabama down to Stanford? We'll be rolling out scouting reports for each team over the next two weeks, all of which are being collected here. Next up, it's No. 15 UCF.
THE BIG STORY
For the first time since 2017—UCF is the third winningest program in the country since then—the Knights will have a new quarterback. McKenzie Milton, who won the American Athletic Conference Offensive Player of the Year award in '17 and '18, suffered a season-ending knee injury in late November, and will miss this season. Notre Dame transfer Brandon Wimbush will likely get the Week 1 start. Darriel Mack Jr., a redshirt sophomore recovering from an ankle surgery and expected to return this year, has the upside to take hold of the starting job.
UCF boasted a deep running back corps last season, but there are few more exciting players in the country than senior speedster Adrian Killins, who averaged 5.7 yards per carry and is a big-play threat: He accounted for a team-high 20 plays of 20 yards or more, including four that went for touchdowns.
It's simple: The Knights need to do a better job stopping the run. Last season they allowed opponents an average of 222.3 rushing yards per game (No. 117 in the FBS)—and this year's unit boasts even less experience. Last year's top tacklers, safety Richie Grant and linebacker Nate Evans, will have to continue their prowess.
With Milton under center, UCF was able to score with the ball in almost anyone's hands—nine different players caught a touchdown pass—but with the uncertainty at QB this year, the Knights will need to count on a few more high-volume scorers. Coach Josh Heupel and his staff have proven to be creative with their schemes, but whoever is under center will have to lean heavily on junior wide receiver Gabriel Davis, who led the Knights in receiving last year (815) and also put up three 100-yard games last season, including a 128-yard performance in UCF's 31–30 win over Memphis. Davis has some of the surest hands in the country and how the new QB uses him will be key.
OVER OR UNDER?
Over 9.5 wins. While road contests at Pitt and Cincinnati present challenges, the only top-25 matchup for the Knights is a home date with Stanford, and AAC rival Memphis isn't on the slate.
THE BOTTOM LINE
No Scott Frost? No problem. Heupel led the Knights to another undefeated regular season in his first year, and while a 12–0 mark is a long shot, UCF will keep piling up the wins.