Preview: Louisville Cardinals vs. UCF Knights

The Cardinals will be hosting the Knights in primetime at Cardinal Stadium.
Publish date:

Central Florida Knights (2-0, 0-0 American) at Louisville Cardinals (1-1, 0-0 ACC)

- Kickoff: Friday, September 17 at 7:30 p.m. EST
- Location: Cardinal Stadium in Louisville, Ky.
- Weather Conditions: Generally sunny despite a few afternoon clouds. A stray shower or thunderstorm is possible. High near 85F. Winds light and variable.
- How To Watch: ESPN
- How To Listen: WHAS 840/790 WKRD
- Betting Favorite: UCF -6.5
- All-Time Series: Series tied 1-1
- Last Meeting: UCF won 38-35 on Oct. 18, 2013 (Cardinal Stadium - Louisville, Ky.)

Game Notes


  • Louisville plays its third game in 12 days when the Cardinals host UCF on Friday night at 7:30 p.m. on ESPN.
  • Louisville evened its record at 1-1 after an impressive 30-3 victory over Eastern Kentucky on Saturday night at Cardinal Stadium. The win evened head coach Scott Satterfield’s record at 13-13.
  • Freshman wide receiver Ahmari Huggins-Bruce recorded four receptions for 150 yards, including a school-record tying 94-yard reception. His 37.5 yards per catch average was the third-highest mark in school history.
    • The 150 yards receiving broke a school record for the most receiving yards by a true freshman, breaking the mark of 132 yards by Tutu Atwell during the 2018 season.
  • Defensive back Kei'Trel Clark spearheaded a defense that recorded three takeaways. The sophomore registered a pair of interceptions, the third of his UofL career.
  • The Cardinals held the Colonels to 235 yards of total offense, including just 86 on the ground - the fourth time the Cardinals have limited the opposition to less than 100 on the ground under Satterfield.
  • They forced three turnovers (two interceptions, one fumble) in the win, matching the team’s high in Satterfield’s three seasons done three previous times.
  • Quarterback Malik Cunningham ended the night 15-for-23 for 277 yards and a touchdown, along with 29 rushing yards and two scores on the ground. Cunningham rushed for a pair of touchdowns for the second consecutive game and the fourth time in his career. Cunningham joins Lenny Lyles as the only Louisville players to rush for four or more touchdowns in four separate seasons.
  • K James Turner made his 10th consecutive field goal with a 28-yarder in the fourth quarter. The 10 straight makes are the fourth longest streak in Louisville history. Turner’s streak of consecutive made PATs came to an end at 44 straight, which was the ninth longest streak in Louisville history.
  • DL Ashton Gillotte made his first career start on Saturday and recorded the first sack of his career in the fourth quarter.
  • WR Justin Marshall caught his first career touchdown on Saturday, scoring from 30 yards out in the third quarter. 
  • WR Braden Smith returned a second quarter punt 49 yards for a touchdown. It was Louisville’s first punt return touchdown since Rodjay Burns returned one against Indiana State on Sept. 8, 2018.


  • The future of college football is at UCF with new head coach Gus Malzahn taking over in Orlando on Feb. 15, 2021. Malzahn previously led Auburn to the BCS National Championship Game in 2013, eight straight years of bowl game appearances with the Tigers, an SEC Championship, two SEC West Division titles, and six New Year's Day bowl selections.
  • UCF raced out to 42-7 lead over visiting Bethune-Cookman and never looked back Saturday night at the Bounce House, defeating the Wildcats 63-14 to improve to 2-0 on the season. It was the most points the Knights have scored since putting up 63 against Temple on Oct. 26, 2019.
    • UCF (2-0) chose to receive and scored on its first drive as senior running back Isaiah Bowser scored his first of four first half touchdowns from 17 yards out to give the Knights the early lead. Bethune-Cookman (0-2) countered with a score of their own on the ensuring drive to tie the game at 7-7 midway through the first quarter.
    • The Knights then scored five consecutive touchdowns to take a commanding 42-7 lead into halftime and put the game away. Junior quarterback Dillon Gabriel found senior receiver Brandon Johnson for a 22-yard touchdown late in the first quarter before Bowser put three away with a pair of 1-yard scores and a 9-yard touchdown run to match the UCF record for rushing touchdowns in a game.
  • Dillon Gabriel came into the 2021 season as one of the top returning quarterbacks in the nation, having led the country in passing yards per game last year. His 357.0 passing yards per game also set a UCF record. He has started the season averaging 315.0 passing yards per game and ranks in the top 10 in the nation in passing touchdowns, points responsible for, and total offense. Gabriel was on the watch list for every national quarterback and offensive player of the year award heading into the 2021 campaign.
  • The UCF rushing attack looks a lot different in 2021, as the Knights had to replace their top three running backs from a season ago in Greg McCrae, Otis Anderson and Bentavious Thompson. In his first game as a Knight, graduate transfer Isaiah Bowser rushed 33 times for a career-high 172 yards and a touchdown. In week two, he scored four rushing touchdowns and currently ranks second in the nation in the category.
  • UCF returns its an entire offensive line from last season, which includes six different o-linemen that started games in 2020. Both Matthew Lee at center and Edward Collins at tackle started all 10 games a season ago, while Cole Schneider started nine times at guard, Samuel Jackson started eight times at both guard and tackle, Lokahi Pauole started eight times at guard, and Marcus Tatum started five times at tackle.
  • Dillon Gabriel’s top returning target is Jaylon “Flash” Robinson, who totaled 979 yards and six touchdowns in his first season with the Knights in 2020. Jay Flash earned first-team all-conference honors in the AAC as a sophomore, ranking 14th in the nation in receiving yards.
  • The Knights currently rank second in the nation in rushing defense, holding their opponents to 22.0 rushing yards per game through two weeks of play. New defensive coordinator Travis Williams has had the task of turning around UCF’s defense that ranked 123rd in the nation in total defense a season ago, allowing 491.8 yards per game, and have shown that they are well on their way after two weeks.
  • With the addition of Auburn transfer Big Kat Bryant, Western Kentucky transfer and freshman AllAmerican Ricky Barber, and the return of Kalia Davis, who opted out last season due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the UCF defensive line has been much improved early in 2021.
    • Davis led the Knights with a career-high three tackles for loss to go with six tackles in the win over Boise State, while Bryant (1.5 TFLs), Barber (1.5 TFLs), Anthony Montalvo (0.5 TFLs), and Keenan Hester (0.5 TFLs) teamed up to give the Knights a total of 9.0 tackles for loss in the victory.
  • A pair of cornerbacks in Davonte Brown and Corey Thornton combined for 15 starts as true freshmen last season. The two have started each of the first two games of the 2021 season.
  • The one area of the defense that UCF returns all of its experience from a year ago is linebacker, bringing back starters Eriq Gilyard and Tatum Bethune, as well as key reserve Jeremiah Jean-Baptiste.

Depth Charts

Here are the depth charts for both teams ahead of their matchup: Louisville vs. UCF


See how the Cardinals stack up against the Knights, and who the statistical models favor: Tale of the Tape, Predictions: Louisville vs. UCF

Uniform Report

Louisville will be wearing red jerseys with black helmets and pants, UCF will be wearing all white.

Additional Coverage

(Photo of Malik Cunningham: Brett Davis - USA TODAY Sports)

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