LAWRENCE, Kan. — UCF is headed to Kansas on Saturday for its first game against its new Big 12 opponent.
The Knights nearly had their first conference win since joining the league last week but blew a 35-7 third-quarter lead in a 36-35 loss to Baylor.
Kansas had its perfect start ruined by Texas, which romped to a 40-14 victory. The Jayhawks played that game without quarterback Jalon Daniels, whose back flared up. Backup Jason Bean is available.
Meanwhile, UCF quarterback John Rhys Plumlee could return. He has been out since hurting his knee against Boise State three weeks ago.
WHAT’S AT STAKE?
UCF was competitive in a loss to Kansas State to open its Big 12 tenure, then blew a 35-7 third-quarter lead in a 36-35 loss to Baylor last weekend. That leaves the Knights desperate to pick up their first conference win and even their overall record as they visit Memorial Stadium for the first time.
Kansas is coming off a 40-14 loss at Texas in which it was missing star quarterback Jalon Daniels, whose balky back flared up and kept him out of the game. Daniels could be out again this week, putting Jason Bean in line to start for the Jayhawks.
UCF’s quarterbacks against the Kansas pass defense, which allowed the Longhorns’ Quinn Ewers to throw for 325 yards and a touchdown last week.
John Rhys Plumlee could be back after hurting his leg three weeks ago at Boise State, forcing Timmy McClain into the starting role.
Plumlee was cleared to play last week and warmed up for the game against Baylor, but UCF coach Gus Malzahn said afterward he did not feel comfortable playing him without going through a full practice first.
PLAYERS TO WATCH
UCF: RBs RJ Harvey and Johnny Richardson helped the Knights pile up 235 yards rushing against Baylor, a big chunk coming on Richardson’s 79-yard TD run on the opening play. Kansas allowed Texas running back Jonathon Brooks to run for 218 yards and two scores last week.
Kansas: The entire WR corps needs to step up this week. They combined to catch four passes against the Longhorns, and most of their 80 yards came on Trevor Wilson’s 58-yard TD reception. Their inability to produce allowed Texas to stuff the line of scrimmage, holding the Jayhawks’ ground game in check.