UCF Knights 2023 College Football Preview

UCF Knights 2023 College Football Preview

July 18, 2023

2022 Recap

Record – 9-5

ATS – 7-7

The Knights won nine games for the second season in a row under the tutelage of HC Gus Malzahn and quietly made a trip to the AAC title game. They got smoked in that affair by Tulane (L 45-28) but should get credit for a fine season. They beat Cincinnati and were one of only two teams that beat the Green Wave during the regular season (Southern Miss). UCF finished the year getting smoked by Duke in the Military Bowl (L 30-13) but thankfully that was a 999 star MEGALOCKS FIVE ALARM BOWL BLASTER LOCK winner.

UCF Knights 2023 Outlook


The Knights displayed impressive balance LY (228 YPG rush, #2 AAC; 241 YPG pass, #8) and did a good job of keeping the defense off-balance. We know QB John Rhys Plumlee is inconsistent in the THROW GAME (63%, 14-8 TD to INT LY) but he’s a devastating weapon with his legs (862 rush, 11 TD). The Knights lose TD machine Isaiah Bowser (16) (!) but he was often hobbled by injuries and only averaged 3.9 YPC LY. They’ve still got a fine 1-2 combo in RJ Harvey and Johnny Richardson to get things done. It hurts to lose the reliable Ryan O’Keefe at WR (73 receptions LY) but they boast a legit duo in Javon Baker (796, 14.2, 5 TD) and Kobe Hudson (641, 16.4, 7 TD). The OL is in great shape with the return of four starters and they added a number of tasty pieces via the transfer portal. The defenses will be tougher in the Big 12 but we still expect UCF to average about 30 PPG.


UCF was pretty good on defense LY (23.6 PPG, #3 AAC; 380 YPG, #5) but they were a little soft vs the run (#7) and didn’t do a great job of getting to the QB (22 sacks, #8). Seven starters are retained and they’ve got several impact players. The DL looks especially spicy with a pair of 1st team All-AAC honorees back in action (DT Ricky Barber, 9 TFL, 12 QBH LY; DE Tre’mon Morris-Brash, 6 sacks, 13 TFL) and leading tackler Jason Johnson returns at LB. The Knights made a yuuuge scoop in the portal by grabbing former Georgia Bulldog (!) Rian Davis to start at MLB. Three starters return to the back end and they’ve added some talent via the portal here as well. This looks like an “average” defense after considering their move to the Big 12 but they could be better than advertised if they develop a few PENETRATORS to get after the QB.


The kicking game is in good shape with the the return of aptly-named PK Colton BOOMER (14-15 FG LY) and punter Mitch McCarthy (43.4). Xavier Townsend did a good job on PR LY (9.3) but it stings to lose Ryan O’Keefe at KR.

Schedule Analysis

Overall – The Knights have a pair of LAYUPS in non-conference action but have to make a tough trip to Boise in week two. The Big 12 schedule is reasonable as they miss Texas and TCU but they’ll have to face the Sooners and Wildcats on the road.

Potential ATS Trouble Spot – Nothing overly-spooky is noted.

Season Win Total

Market consensus July 18

Over 7 -110

Under 7 -110


No leanage.

That looks about right. They’ll almost certainly head into Big 12 play with two or three wins and will need to win four or five games in conference games to get a push. That’s seems reasonable, but not a certainty. We’ve got slight LEANAGE to ‘over’ 6.5 wins so shop around and see if you can find that number.

MEGAmazing Tidbit

The Knights are 12-2 in the BOUNCE HOUSE in two years under Gus Malzahn but just 7-7 ATS.

Orlando is home to Walt Disney World, a magical theme-park that has over 77,000 employees. Only 56,090 of them secretly take pictures of your toddlers. **

** fact check: that number seems a bit low based on arrest records


It’s gonna be fun to see how UCF adjusts to playing in the Big 12. The roster looks good and they’ve been preparing for this jump for a while. Depth is a concern if the injury bug bites hard, but then again, you can say that for most teams. We’ll call for seven wins and believe they’re more likely to overachieve than fall flat. Good luck, Knights!