If you ask me, UCF is for real. It’s tough to say anything else after the No. 25 Knights ran away with a 51-23 victory over the Cincinnati Bearcats at Nippert Stadium on Saturday night.
The Knights scored two touchdowns in the first five minutes of the game, led 37-16 at halftime and generally never had anything to worry about, other than the weather, which caused the game to be called before the fourth quarter.
Hayden Moore played an OK game, especially with a surprising effort on the ground. He threw for 278 yards, rushed for 75 and accounted for a total of three touchdowns. The rest of the backfield struggled. Even though Gerrid Doaks caught Moore’s only touchdown pass, he rushed for only 13 yards on four carries. Mike Boone had 23 yards on eight carries.
Of course, with UCF going up so big so early, there weren’t a lot of running opportunities, with the Bearcats trying to throw their way back into the game. Moore completed 23-of-40 pass attempts, with Kahlil Lewis his primary option. Lewis was targeted 10 times, caught seven passes and finished with 89 yards. No other receiver had more than 40 yards.
In total, UC had 391 yards of total offense, which was the second-highest mark of the season. That didn’t mean much since UCF racked up 515 yards, taking advantage of large gaps in the secondary. McKenzie Milton racked up 374 passing yards on 16 completions. He only threw the ball 19 times and had five touchdown passes. Tre’Quan Smith turned five catches into 165 yards and three scores.
So, yeah, UCF can play some football and the Bearcats learned that the hard way. They fell to 2-4 overall and 0-2 in American Athletic Conference play with the loss. UCF improved to 4-0, with a 2-0 mark in league action.