UCF wraps up nonconference schedule vs. Villanova

Loren Orr/Orlando Sentinel/TNS

UCF, coming off a thrilling win at Boise State last weekend, returns home for a nonconference game Saturday.

Kicker Colton Boomer connected on four field goals, including a walk-off 40-yarder, to keep the Knights undefeated start to the season.

Villanova, a Football Championship Subdivision program, is off to a 2-0 start for the second consecutive season. The Wildcats are looking for the first win over a Football Bowl Subdivision school since defeating Temple in 2018.

“I’m good with playing anybody, to be honest with you,” said UCF coach Gus Malzahn. “We need to play good football and it doesn’t matter who we’re playing. That’s our mindset. It just so happens we’re playing a high-level Division I-AA program with a high-level coach.”

Said fifth-year offensive lineman Lokahi Pauole: “I’m aware that Villanova is an up-and-coming team … We just have to focus on our game and do our thing. They’ve gotten off to a great start this season and I’m glad for them, but we’re ready to play.”

The last time UCF lost to an FCS program was in 2015, a bewildering 16-15 decision to Furman at the Bounce House. Previously, the Knights had won 20 straight against Division II schools.

UCF’s Colton Boomer is confident in his kicking, faith

Coaches: Malzahn, 3rd season at UCF, 20-9 (97-47 overall); Mark Ferrante, 7th season at Villanova, 37-26 (37-26 overall)

Quick slant: This is the second overall meeting between the programs, with UCF knocking off the Wildcats, 35-16, on Sept. 2, 2006, at the Citrus Bowl. Steven Moffet threw three touchdown passes — two to receiver Mike Walker — and Kevin Smith rushed for 86 yards and a score for the Knights. … A win over Villanova would give UCF its first 3-0 start since 2019.

About UCF (2-0, 0-0 Big 12): For the second consecutive week, UCF leads the nation in total offense (626 yards) and rushing offense (323 yards). The Knights also are 36th overall in scoring (37 points). … Receiver Xavier Townsend is third on the team with 192 all-purpose yards (67 rushing, 87 receiving, 5 punt returns, 34 kick returns). … UCF’s defense has allowed just 22 points through the first two games; only 16 teams in the FBS have allowed fewer points, including Georgia (10), Michigan (10) and Ohio State (10).

About Villanova (2-0, 0-0 CAA): Quarterback Connor Watkins became the first Villanova player to throw for at least 300 yards on fewer than 10 completions when he went 8 of 11 for 310 yards with two touchdowns during the Wildcats’ 42-9 win over Colgate last weekend. … Receivers Rayjuon Pringle and Jaylan Sanchez are the team’s top targets, combing for 361 yards on 10 receptions with three touchdowns. … Villanova ranks fourth in the FCS in rushing defense, allowing an average of 55 yards with one touchdown through the first two games.

Here’s hoping UCF’s John Rhys Plumlee — a leader and role model — gets well soon | Commentary

3 things to watch

Timmy time: Backup Timmy McClain takes over starting quarterback duties with John Rhys Plumlee out for several weeks with a leg injury from the Boise State win. The redshirt sophomore appeared in 12 games (nine starts) during his freshman season at USF before transferring to the UCF at the start of the 2022 season. His last career start was against the Knights at FBC Stadium on November 26, 2021.

Turnovers: UCF ranks 116th out of 133 FBS teams in turnover margin (-3) after allowing five turnovers through the first two games. All five turnovers were credited to Plumlee (four interceptions/fumble). The defense, meanwhile, has two interceptions (DeJordan Mask, Corey Thornton) through the first two games.

Red zone efficiency: While UCF features the nation’s top offense, the team has struggled inside the opponent’s 20-yard line, scoring on just 67% (8 of 12) opportunities with seven touchdowns and one field goal. The Knights were 2 of 5 in the red zone at Boise State last week with two interceptions and a turnover on downs. The only missed opportunity in the previous game against Kent State was an interception.

Where: FBC Mortgage Stadium

When: 6:30 p.m.

TV: Big 12 Now on ESPN+; Radio: ESPN FM 98.1/AM 850 WRUF, Sirius/XM 84

Weather: 73 degrees, 23% rain chance

Favorite: N/A

Email Matt Murschel at or follow him on X at @osmattmurschel.