The 1988 UCF Knights football season was Gene McDowell's fourth as the head coach of the Knights. UCF started the season ranked as No. 2 in Division II, and after defeating the D-II defending national champions Troy before a record crowd of 31,789 in the Citrus Bowl, the Knights jumped to No. 1 in the national rankings. After earning the top national ranking in the Division II poll for two consecutive weeks, the Knights faltered and lost their final four games. McDowell's 1988 Knights finished the season with a 6–5 overall record and missed the Division II playoffs.