UCF Knights continue conference play against the Temple Owls

Produced by Frank Shala

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Bryce Brimhall

Junior wideout Breshad Perriman has a knack for long touchdown catches this year, as his three TD receptions have gone for 45, 52 and 61 yards.

Since the inception of the American Athletic Conference in 2013, The UCF Knights have run the table against their conference foes. The black and gold will look to continue their unbeaten conference streak as they conclude homecoming week against the Temple Owls this Saturday at Bright House Networks Stadium.

UCF (4-2, 2-0 in AAC) is coming off a 21-13 win against Tulane last week, a game that that was marred with numerous turnovers and penalties by both teams. Temple (4-2, 2-1 in AAC) is coming off a 31-10 loss on the road to Houston.

“They’re a much improved football team,” said UCF head coach George O’Leary about Temple. “This should be an interesting game, a game we’re going to have to play well and improve on what we’ve shown the last couple weeks.”

Last years meeting between the two schools was the first ever and it did not disappoint. The Owls took a 36-29 lead with 2:04 remaining until Blake Bortles found J.J. Worton with a 30-yard, one-handed catch that ultimately won the ESPN Sport Science Newton Award for Best Catch. After a defensive stand, Shawn Moffitt hit a 23-yarder with no time left for a 39-36 victory.

The Knights will face the third-best scoring offense in the conference on Saturday. The majority of the Owls’ offensive success is attributed to sophomore quarterback P.J. Walker. He has thrown for 1,358 yards and 10 touchdowns on the season.

As a freshman last year against the Knights, Walker completed 26 passes for 382 yards and four scores.

“He’s the catalyst of the team for Temple, there’s no question. I think he has great vision. He has that ‘it’ factor,” said O’Leary. “I think they have him in the right scheme of offense where the ball is in his hands and he has to make some decisions. I think he’s been making a lot of good decisions.”

The UCF quarterback situation has been a little inconsistent to say the least. Sophomore Justin Holman looked to have the reigns until a couple early turnovers against Tulane forced O’Leary to turn to Boise State transfer Nick Patti. The redshirt sophomore engineered UCF’s most successful drive of the game when the Knights went 12 plays for 85 yards, capped off by a William Stanback one yard TD run in the second quarter. On the drive, Patti was 3-for-3 for 26 yards. However, all signs lead to O’Leary being fully committed to Holman going forward.

“It’s Holman’s team, but I told him this week I want to see improvement, no missed opportunities in practice,” said O’Leary. “That’s what you have to do with young kids, keep the pressure on them all the time, that we’re not going to put up with mistakes out there.”

The Knights will continue to get their opponents best shot as they strive for back to back conference titles, and have become a team that thrives on winning the close games. Eight of UCF’s last 10 conference victories have come by seven points or less, and six of them were by five points or less. UCF has played three straight games that were decided by seven points or less, and won them all. Going back even further, of head coach George O’Leary’s 134 games at UCF, 55 of them (41 percent) have been decided by seven points or less.

“Everyone in the conference wants to have that experience of winning the conference,” said senior defensive back Sean Beckton. “We have a big target on us and they’re going to give us everything they have to beat us.”

Kickoff on Saturday is set for 5 p.m. at Bright House Networks Stadium.