It was a little too close for comfort for the No. 18 UCF Knights when they visited American Athletic Conference for SMU on Saturday night in Dallas, Texas. The undefeated Knights were looking to go 8-0 for the first time in program history and they were able to do so, but not quite with the ease they’re used to.

The Knights had to rely more upon their defense, despite winning road games by an average of 22 points, en route to a thrilling 31-24 victory over the Mustangs at Gerald J. Ford Stadium. With teams like No. 11 Oklahoma State, No. 13 Virginia Tech and No. 15 Iowa State all losing on Saturday, UCF should see a bump in the College Football Playoff rankings once they’re released.

”We found ourselves in a close game that we probably shouldn’t have been in – and I love the way our team responded,” UCF coach Scott Frost said about the close call against SMU. ”When you have 600-plus yards on offense, you are supposed to have more points than that.”

Both UCF and SMU featured a couple of the top scoring offenses in the country, with the Knights averaging 51 points per game compared to the Mustangs 41.5 under Chad Morris, the former Clemson offensive coordinator. The evening ended up becoming a career day for Knights’ quarterback McKenzie Milton, as the signal caller threw for 412 yards and rushed for another 44.

Turnovers ended up becoming a primary reason why UCF had over 600 yards of offense and still sat well under it’s season average of points, with Milton throwing two interceptions and the Knights also losing a fumble. The Mustangs (6-3) kept themselves within striking distance throughout the second half behind a 283-yard performance from quarterback Ben Hicks.

UCF (8-0) got its big plays from running back Adrian Killins Jr. (14 carries, 145 yards) and wide receiver Tre’Quan Smith (seven catches, 141 yards). Killins Jr. scored two touchdowns on the night. The undefeated Knights will take their perfect 8-0 record back home to host UConn (3-6) next weekend at Spectrum Stadium. Kickoff is slated for 12 p.m.

About The Author

Andy Villamarzo has covered high school and youth sports for the Tampa Bay Times and The Tampa Tribune as a correspondent since 2008. He is a native of Holiday, FL, who graduated from Gulf High School and studied at St. Petersburg College. He has covered various prep, collegiate and professional athletes throughout his writing career, including Josh Johnson (Jacksonville Jaguars), Patrick Schuster (Arizona Diamondbacks) and currently writes for other publications like The Suncoast News, Friday Night Football Magazine and TopDrawerSoccer.com.

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