2019 UCF Knights football team

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2019 UCF Knights football
UCF Knights logo.svg
ConferenceAmerican Athletic Conference
DivisionEast Division
2019 record7–3 (4–2 The American)
Head coachJosh Heupel (2nd season)
Offensive coordinatorJeff Lebby (1st as OC, 2nd overall season)
Defensive coordinatorRandy Shannon (2nd season)
Home stadiumSpectrum Stadium
(Capacity: 44,206)
← 2018
2020 →
2019 American Athletic Conference football standings
Conf     Overall
Team   W   L         W   L  
East Division
No. 17 Cincinnati x   6 0         9 1  
UCF   4 2         7 3  
Temple   4 2         7 3  
South Florida   2 4         4 6  
East Carolina   0 6         3 7  
UConn   0 6         2 8  
West Division
No. 18 Memphis   5 1         9 1  
SMU   5 1         9 1  
No. 23 Navy   5 1         7 2  
Tulane   3 2         6 4  
Houston   1 5         3 7  
Tulsa   1 5         3 7  
Championship: December 7, 2019
  • $ – Conference champion
  • x – Division champion/co-champions
  • y – Championship game participant
As of November 18, 2019; Rankings from College Football Playoff.

The 2019 UCF Knights football team represents the University of Central Florida (UCF) during the 2019 NCAA Division I FBS football season. The Knights are led by second-year head coach Josh Heupel and play their home games at Spectrum Stadium in Orlando, Florida. They compete as members of the East Division of the American Athletic Conference.

Previous season[edit]

In 2018, the Knights achieved a second consecutive undefeated regular season and American Athletic Conference championship. UCF's win over Memphis in the 2018 AAC Championship Game brought their record to 12–0 and extended their school-record winning streak to 25 games. They were invited to the Fiesta Bowl to play LSU, where the winning streak finally came to a close with a 40–32 loss.

UCF finished the 2018 season riding a 15-game home winning streak, and a streak of 32 consecutive games forcing a turnover.


AAC media poll[edit]

The AAC media poll was released on July 16, 2019, with the Knights predicted to win AAC East Division.[1] They were also predicted to win the overall AAC championship.

Spring game[edit]

The 2019 UCF Spring exhibition game was held Saturday April 13 at Spectrum Stadium. The team was split into two squads for gameplay, Team Black and Team Pewter. Quarterback Darriel Mack Jr. threw for 171 yards, including a two-play, 75-yard touchdown drive to open the game. Four quarterbacks saw play during the game, including Quadry Jones, who threw a 71-yard touchdown pass to Rahsaan Lewis.[2]

Date Time Spring Game Site Result
April 13 2:30 pm Pewter vs. Black Spectrum StadiumOrlando, FL 23-17

Training camp[edit]

Just prior to the start of preseason training camp, quarterback Darriel Mack Jr. suffered a broken ankle in a non-football related incident. Mack had taken over for the injured McKenzie Milton in 2018. Mack was expected to miss all of training camp and part of the regular season.[3] Much of the focus of training camp became the battle for the starting quarterback position between Notre Dame transfer Brandon Wimbush, redshirt freshman Quadry Jones, and true freshman Dillon Gabriel.[4] On August 22, one week before the season opener, head coach Josh Heupel announced that Wimbush would start, while Gabriel "will get an opportunity to play in the first game as well."[5]

Ticket sales[edit]

On August 12, the UCF athletic department announced that the entire season-ticket allotment was sold out for the first time in school history.[6] In addition, they created a formal waiting list for season tickets, also for the first time. In the press release, UCF athletic director Danny White teased a possible expansion of Spectrum Stadium in the near future if ticket demand remains high.


UCF's 2019 schedule will begin with four non-conference games, with home games against Florida A&M (MEAC) and Stanford (Pac-12), and road games against FAU (C-USA) and Pitt (ACC). In American Athletic Conference play, the Knights will play the other members of the East Division and face Houston, Tulane and Tulsa from the West Division. They will not play Memphis, Navy, or SMU as part of the regular season. UCF will be idle the weekends of October 12 and November 16.

August 297:30 p.m.Florida A&M*No. 17CBSSNW 62–044,073
September 77:00 p.m.at Florida Atlantic*No. 18CBSSNW 48–1430,811
September 143:30 p.m.Stanford*No. 17
  • Spectrum Stadium
  • Orlando, FL
ESPNW 45–2744,206
September 213:30 p.m.at Pittsburgh*No. 15ABC/ESPN2L 34–3542,056
September 287:00 p.m.UConnNo. 22
ESPN2W 56–2144,164
October 48:00 p.m.at CincinnatiNo. 18ESPNL 24–2740,121
October 197:00 p.m.East Carolinadagger
  • Spectrum Stadium
  • Orlando, FL (rivalry)
CBSSNW 41–2842,906
October 267:00 p.m.at TempleESPN2W 63–2129,949
November 212:00 p.m.Houston
  • Spectrum Stadium
  • Orlando, FL
ESPN2W 44–2941,361
November 87:00 p.m.at TulsaESPN2L 31–3416,331
November 2312:00 p.m.at TulaneCBSSN
November 298:00 p.m.South Florida



Ranking movements
Legend: ██ Increase in ranking. ██ Decrease in ranking.
NR = Not ranked. RV = Received votes. ( ) = First place votes.
Poll Pre 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 Final 
AP 17 18 17 15 22 18 RV RV RV RV RV RV NR  
Coaches 17-T 17 16 16 23 19 RV RV RV RV RV RV NR  
CFP Not released NR NR NR Not released

Game summaries[edit]

Florida A&M[edit]

1 2 3 4 Total
Rattlers 0 0 0 0 0
No. 17 Knights 17 31 7 7 62
Overall record Last meeting Result
0–1 1987 L, 14–19

UCF started the season, ranked 17th in both the AP and Coaches poll. The Knights hosted Florida A&M on Thursday night. Brandon Wimbush started at quarterback, but Dillon Gabriel and Quadry Jones also took snaps during the game. The Knights routed the Rattlers 62–0, including a school record-tying 31 points in the second quarter. The trio of quarterbacks combined for 356 passing yards. Wimbush threw two touchdown passes, Gabriel three, and Jones one. Adrian Killins Jr. rushed for 106 yards and one touchdown. The Rattlers were held to only 96 total yards, eight first downs, and had eleven drives go three-and-out.

The Knights extended their home winning streak at Spectrum Stadium to 16 games, and extended their NCAA Division I FBS record of scoring 30+ points to 27 games. However, their active streak of forcing at least one turnover was snapped at 32 games.[8] Despite the big win, the Knights suffered a setback in when CB Brandon "Bam" Moore suffered a knee injury in the third quarter.[9]

at Florida Atlantic[edit]

1 2 3 4 Total
No. 18 Knights 14 14 13 7 48
Owls 0 6 0 8 14
Overall record Last meeting Result
2–0 2018 W, 56–36

Freshman Dillon Gabriel started at quarterback, and led the Knights to a 48–14 victory over FAU. Quarterback Brandon Wimbush sat out the game, resting an injury. Gabriel only had 7 completions, but still threw for 245 yards and had two touchdown passes. The Knights rushing, led by Greg McRae, Bentavious Thompson, and Otis Anderson, compiled 312 yards and 5 touchdowns on the ground. With 4:20 remaining in the fourth quarter, the game was halted due to lightning in the area. Minutes later, the game was called by the officials.[10]

The Knights extended their regular season winning streak to 24 games, and their FBS record streak of scoring 30+ points to 28 games.[10] The team also won their school-record extending 10th consecutive away game.


1 2 3 4 Total
Cardinal 7 0 3 17 27
No. 17 Knights 28 10 0 7 45
Overall record Last meeting Result
0–1 2015 L, 7–31

Freshman Dillon Gabriel started at quarterback for the second week in a row, and led the Knights to a decisive 45–27 victory over Stanford. Gabriel threw for 347 yards and four touchdown passes. The Knights led 38–7 at halftime, after touchdown catches by Marlon Williams, Tre Nixon, and Gabriel Davis. Otis Anderson rushed for one touchdown, and Greg McCrae had a 1-yard touchdown run set up by an interception. Defensive Back Aaron Robinson intercepted Stanford quarterback K. J. Costello, returning the ball 40-yards for an apparent touchdown, but after review, it was determined that Robinson was downed at the 1 yard line.

In the second half, UCF added a field goal and another touchdown pass to Jake Hescock. Late in the fourth quarter, Quadry Jones took over at quarterback. With 1:41 remaining in regulation the Knights' only turnover occurred when a fumbled hand off was recovered by Stanford's Jonathan McGill. He returned the ball 28 yards for a Cardinal touchdown, and the 45–27 final score. The Knights won their 25th consecutive regular season game, extended their home winning streak at Spectrum Stadium to 17 games, and also extended their NCAA Division I FBS record of scoring 30+ points to 29 games.[11]

at Pittsburgh[edit]

1 2 3 4 Total
No. 15 Knights 0 10 21 3 34
Panthers 7 14 7 7 35
Overall record Last meeting Result
1–1 2018 W, 45–14

Pitt defeated the Knights by the score of 35–34, to snap UCF's regular season winning streak at 27 games. The Knights fell behind 21–0 in the first half, but rallied with 31 unanswered points to take a ten-point lead. In the final minute, the Panthers drove for the game-winning touchdown, scored on trick play dubbed the "Pitt Special".

Freshman quarterback Dillon Gabriel threw two interceptions in the first half, though neither led to points for Pitt. Early in the second quarter, Pitt blocked a UCF punt, and it was recovered by Wendell Davis who returned it 18 yards for a Panthers touchdown. A. J. Davis and Nick Patti both had touchdown runs, and Pitt led 21–0 midway through the second quarter. Momentum would shift in the game, however, as on the next Pitt possession, Davis was tackled and fumbled. UCF recovered at the Pitt 27 yard line. Three plays later, UCF finally got on the board after an 11-yard touchdown run by Adrian Killins Jr. The Knights added a field goal with 4 seconds left in the half, and Pitt took a 21–10 lead into halftime.

The third quarter belonged to the Knights. They forced Pitt to punt to start the second half. Dillon Gabriel completed a 65-yard pass to Gabriel Davis, which set up a touchdown and a 21–17 score. On the next possession, Pitt was forced to punt yet again. Otis Anderson returned the punt 87 yards for a touchdown, and the Knights took the lead for the first time. They extended their lead with a 28-yard touchdown pass to Davis, his second of the game. The UCF defense, however, gave up three costly penalties on the next drive. A Face mask, a Roughing the passer, and a Personal Foul on successive plays, set the Panthers up at the UCF 8 yard line. Nick Patti, in for Kenny Pickett, threw a touchdown pass to Dontavius Butler-Jenkins to make the score 31–24.

With 8:32 left to play, the score still 31–24, UCF drove to the Pitt 15 yard line. Facing 4th down & 2, UCF elected to go for it on fourth down, but Greg McRae was tackled a yard short. The Knights turned the ball over on downs, but Pitt followed it up with a three-and-out and punted. The Knights again drove deep into Pitt territory, facing another 4th down, this time at the Pitt 11. After brief consideration, Dylan Barnas kicked a 28-yard field goal, and the Knights clung to a 34–28 lead. Pitt drove down to the UCF 3 yard line with 0:59 seconds left in regulation. Facing 4th down & 2 at the 3, Pitt executed a trick play, which was a fake run to the right, then Kenny Pickett threw to on open Aaron Mathews for the game-winning touchdown.

The loss snapped UCF's 10-game away winning streak, but despite the loss, they extended their NCAA Division I FBS record of scoring 30+ points to 30 games.[12]


1 2 3 4 Total
Huskies 0 0 7 14 21
No. 22 Knights 28 14 14 0 56
Overall record Last meeting Result
4–2 2018 W, 56–17

UCF bounced back after losing the week prior by routing Connecticut 56–21. Quarterback Dillon Gabriel threw for 281 yards and three touchdown passes, despite only playing in the first half. The Knights led 42–0 at halftime, and extended their lead to 56–0 in the third quarter. Darriel Mack Jr. took over at quarterback in the second half, his first significant action since recovering from a broken ankle. Mack threw one touchdown pass and 97 yards passing, and 27 yards rushing. The explosive UCF offense had four touchdown drives under 1 minute in duration. The UCF defense also stifled the Huskies, forcing two interceptions (one returned for a touchdown) and two fumbles.

The Knights extended their home winning streak at Spectrum Stadium to 18 games, and also extended their NCAA Division I FBS record of scoring 30+ points to 31 games.[13] The win marked UCF's 19th consecutive American Athletic Conference victory (including two conference championship game wins), dating back to the start of the 2017 season.

at Cincinnati[edit]

1 2 3 4 Total
No. 18 Knights 3 13 0 8 24
Bearcats 0 10 10 7 27
Overall record Last meeting Result
3–1 2018 W, 38–13

Cincinnati defeated UCF on Friday night by the score of 27–24, snapping the Knights' streak of 19 consecutive conference game wins and 31 consecutive games scoring 30+ points. Quarterback Dillon Gabriel threw three interceptions (one returned for a touchdown), and was sacked three times in the loss.

UCF took a 16–10 into halftime, but had struggled in the first half. On their first drive, the Knights drove to the 7 yard line, but had to settle for a field goal. On their second drive, the Knights again drove inside the 10 yard line, but Cam Jefferies intercepted the ball at the 2 yard line after the intended receiver fell down. Later in the second quarter, a UCF fumble led to Cincinnati's first touchdown of the game.

The third quarter belonged to the Bearcats. Cincinnati received the ball to start the second half, and drove down for a field goal and a 16–13 score. The Bearcars defense shut down the Knights offense, three times forcing a 3-and-out, along with a pick six. Trailing 27–16 early in the fourth quarter, UCF drove to the Bearcats 14 yard line, but Gabriel's third interception of the night ended the drive without points. The Knights managed to score a swift touchdown with 3:11 left in regulation, but the ensuing onside kick failed. With 1:02 left in the game, the Bearcats lined up facing 4th down & inches near midfield. Cincinnati got the first down, and ran out the clock to win.[14] UCF dropped out of the top 25 for the first time since week 4 of 2017.

East Carolina[edit]

1 2 3 4 Total
Pirates 0 6 16 6 28
Knights 21 14 6 0 41
Overall record Last meeting Result
7–10 2018 W, 37–10

On homecoming, UCF jumped out to a 32-point lead, and held on for a 41–28 victory over East Carolina. Dillon Gabriel started at quarterback, but Darriel Mack Jr. also took snaps. Gabriel threw for a career-best 365 yards and two touchdown passes and ran for a touchdown, while Mack threw a 33-yard touchdown pass in the second quarter. The Knights took a 35–6 lead into halftime, forcing the Pirates to punt on five of their seven first half possessions.

In the second half, the Pirates rallied. UCF was held to a 3-and-out on their first possession of the third quarter. Andrew Osteen's punt was blocked and recovered for a Pirates touchdown. A sack and fumble suffered by Dillion Gabriel led to another Pirates touchdown, and the score deficit was trimmed to 35–22. Injuries had sidelined several UCF players, but late in the third quarter Gabriel connected with Tre Nixon for a 53-yard touchdown pass and a more comfortable 41–22 Knights lead. The rally by East Carolina stalled, as driving to the UCF 35 yard line, Trace Christian fumbled and it was recovered by the Knights. Early in the fourth quarter, East Carolina drove to the UCF 23, but Holton Ahlers' pass was intercepted by Antwan Collier at the 9 yard line.[15]

UCF kept alive their home winning streak at Spectrum Stadium, extending it to a school record 19 consecutive games.

at Temple[edit]

1 2 3 4 Total
Knights 14 14 28 7 63
Owls 7 14 0 0 21
Overall record Last meeting Result
4–2 2018 W, 52–40

The UCF offense rushed for 385 yards and five rushing touchdowns as the Knights rolled over Temple by the final score of 63–21. Dillon Gabriel started at quarterback, and threw for 218 yards and three touchdown passes. Darriel Mack Jr. also saw time at quarterback, finishing with one touchdown run and one touchdown pass.

Both teams scored on their opening drives. With the score 7–7, the Knights pinned the Owls at their own 4 yard line. After going three-and-out, the Owls punted and the Knights took over at the Temple 48 yard line. On the first play of the next drive, Adrian Killins Jr. weaved through the defense for a 48-yard touchdown run, and a lead UCF would not surrender. In the second quarter, the Owls managed to pin the Knights back at their own 1 yard line, but in only six plays, the Knights marched 99 yards for a touchdown and a 21–7 lead. The game went into halftime with the Knights leading 28–21.

After a seemingly back-and-forth game in the first half, the Knights dominated the second half. UCF scored four touchdowns in the third quarter to build a 56–21 lead. The Knights intercepted quarterback Anthony Russo twice, and forced a turnover on downs. UCF added another touchdown in the fourth quarter, and held Temple to only two plays from scrimmage in Knights territory in the second half.[16]

The 63 points was the most scored by the Knights in a road victory since a 64–30 win at Louisiana Tech in 1998. The team also became bowl-eligible with their sixth win of the season.


1 2 3 4 Total
Cougars 17 6 0 6 29
Knights 14 7 21 2 44
Overall record Last meeting Result
5–3 2016 L, 24–31

Quarterback Dillon Gabriel threw for 298 yards, three touchdowns, and ran for another touchdown, as UCF rallied in the second half to beat Houston 44–29. The Cougars took a 23–21 halftime lead behind two touchdown runs by Mulbah Car, and three field goals by Dalton Witherspoon. Houston had racked up 349 yards of offense in the first half.

The second half belonged to the Knights. UCF scored touchdowns on three consecutive drives in the third quarter, making the score 42–23. Bentavious Thompson ran for two touchdowns, and Tre Nixon scored a 34-yard touchdown pass. The Cougars went three-and-out on four of their first five second half possessions, then turned the ball over on downs and lost a fumble. After the strong first half, the Cougars were held to -4 yards in the third quarter.[17]

The victory was UCF's 20th consecutive home victory at Spectrum Stadium, extending their school record.

at Tulsa[edit]

1 2 3 4 Total
Knights 14 14 3 0 31
Golden Hurricane 7 10 7 10 34
Overall record Last meeting Result
3–7 2016 L, 20–35

Tulsa handed UCF their third loss of the season, and second conference loss, on chilly Friday night. Quarterback Dillon Gabriel threw two interceptions, and the Knights as a team committed 15 penalties for 120 yards in the loss. UCF controlled the game in the first half, leading 28–17 at halftime, but went cold in the second half, managing only 3 points.

Otis Anderson had two touchdowns (one rushing, one receiving), and Adrian Killins Jr. had a 57-yard touchdown run in the first half. Trailing 34–31 late in the fourth quarter, the Knights drove to the Tulsa 47 yard line, but turned the ball over on downs with 1:27 remaining in regulation. The Knights defense held Tulsa on three straight plays, and Tulsa faced a 4th & 1 at the 44 yard line with 1:04 to go. The Knights defense stuffed the play, but were penalized for 12 men on the field. Tulsa got a first down and ran out the clock to win.[18]

at Tulane[edit]

1 2 3 4 Total
Knights 21 10 14 3 48
Green Wave 0 7 10 7 24
Overall record 8-3 Last meeting Result
6–2 2016 W, 37–6

South Florida[edit]

1 2 3 4 Total
Bulls 0
Knights 0
Overall record Last meeting Result
4–6 2018 W, 38–10

Awards and milestones[edit]

School records[edit]

  • Most consecutive home game victories: 20 (ongoing)
  • Most consecutive games scoring 30+ points: 31 (also an NCAA Division I FBS record since the poll era began in 1936)
  • Most consecutive regular season victories: 25
  • Most consecutive away game victories (not including neutral site games): 10
  • Most consecutive American Athletic Conference game victories: 19

American Athletic Conference honors[edit]

Offensive Player of the Week[edit]

  • September 16: Dillon Gabriel[19]

National awards and honors[edit]


  1. ^ "UCF Chosen as Favorite in 2019 Preseason Media Poll". TheAmerican.org. Retrieved July 17, 2019.
  2. ^ Smith, Dominique (April 15, 2019). "UCF football completes competitive spring campaign". NSM Today. Retrieved July 17, 2019.
  3. ^ Patterson, Chip (July 10, 2019). "UCF QB Darriel Mack Jr. suffers broken ankle, Brandon Wimbush likely starter for the Knights". CBS Sports. Retrieved August 14, 2019.
  4. ^ Murschel, Matt (August 10, 2019). "UCF QB competition continues, contenders remain optimistic after first scrimmage". Orlando Sentinel. Retrieved August 14, 2019.
  5. ^ Murschel, Matt (August 22, 2019). "UCF names Brandon Wimbush starting quarterback". Orlando Sentinel. Retrieved August 26, 2019.
  6. ^ "UCF Sells Out 2019 Season Ticket Allotment". UCF Athletics. August 12, 2019. Retrieved August 26, 2019.
  7. ^ "2019 UCF Football Schedule". FBSchedules.com. Retrieved February 26, 2019.
  8. ^ "Wimbush, Gabriel shine, No. 17 UCF trounces Florida A&M 62-0". ESPN.com. August 30, 2019. Retrieved August 30, 2019.
  9. ^ Limón Romero, Iliana; Hays, Chris (August 30, 2019). "UCF defensive back Brandon Moore still waiting to learn extent of leg injury". Orlando Sentinel. Retrieved August 30, 2019.
  10. ^ a b "Freshman Gabriel leads No. 18 UCF past FAU 48-14". ESPN.com. September 8, 2019. Retrieved August 30, 2019.
  11. ^ "Gabriel throws 4 TD passes, No. 17 UCF routs Stanford 45-27". ESPN.com. September 14, 2019. Retrieved September 16, 2019.
  12. ^ "'Pitt Special' ends UCF's 27-game reg.-season run". ESPN.com. September 21, 2019. Retrieved September 25, 2019.
  13. ^ "Gabriel throws for 3 TDs, No. 22 UCF trounces UConn 56-21". ESPN.com. September 28, 2019. Retrieved October 3, 2019.
  14. ^ "Ahmad Gardner's INT return leads Bearcats to upset of UCF". ESPN.com. October 4, 2019. Retrieved October 10, 2019.
  15. ^ "Gabriel leads UCF past East Carolina 41-28". ESPN.com. October 19, 2019. Retrieved October 22, 2019.
  16. ^ "UCF runs over Temple in second half of 63-21 victory". ESPN.com. October 26, 2019. Retrieved October 28, 2019.
  17. ^ "Gabriel rallies UCF past Houston 44-29". ESPN.com. November 2, 2019. Retrieved November 5, 2019.
  18. ^ "Rainey FG, 4th-down stop lift Tulsa over UCF 34-31". ESPN.com. November 9, 2019. Retrieved November 13, 2019.
  19. ^ "American Athletic Conference Football Report, 2019 Season - Week 4" (PDF) (Press release). American Athletic Conference. September 16, 2019. Retrieved September 19, 2019.
  20. ^ "Mililani grad, UCF quarterback Dillon Gabriel named Walter Camp Offensive Player of the Week". KHON. September 15, 2019. Retrieved September 16, 2019.