UCF will begin its life in the Big 12 against the defending conference champion when it visits Kansas State on Saturday.
The Knights are off to a 3-0 start led by their defense, which has yet to allow more than 16 points in a game. The Wildcats are 2-1.
Quarterback will be a concern for both teams.
The Knights will be without John Rhys Plumlee after he was hurt against Boise State, meaning transfer Timmy McClain will get the start. Kansas State's Will Howard was shaken up against Missouri and is questionable with freshman Avery Johnson next in line.
UCF (3-0) at Kansas State (2-1), Saturday, 8 p.m. ET (FS1)
Line: Kansas State by 6 1/2, according to FanDuel Sportsbook.
Series record: Kansas State leads 1-0.
WHAT’S AT STAKE?
UCF will be making its Big 12 debut when it heads to Bill Snyder Family Stadium to play Kansas State, the reigning conference champion. The Knights are unbeaten after sandwiching a pair of easy non-conference wins around an 18-16 nailbiter against Boise State. The Wildcats are coming off a disheartening 30-27 loss at Missouri, where they controlled most of the game before the Tigers' Harrison Mevis hit a 61-yard winning field goal as time expired.
Kansas State QB Will Howard against the UCF defense. Howard was visibly slowed by the beating he took last week against Missouri, and it showed in his uneven performance. He had 270 yards and three touchdowns passing with an interception but was unable to add much in the quarterback run game. Howard is questionable to play against the Knights, and freshman Avery Johnson would be next in line to face a UCF defense that has yet to allow more than 16 points in a game.
PLAYERS TO WATCH
UCF: McClain is expected to start after John Rhys Plumlee hurt his right knee in the closing minutes of the win over Boise State. Knights coach Gus Malzahn said Monday that Plumlee could miss multiple weeks, and that means McClain will lead them into their Big 12 debut. The South Florida transfer led the Bulls in passing in 2021 before redshirting last season.
Kansas State: Johnson could take the spotlight if Howard is unable to play. He has been used primarily as a running threat, but the four-star prospect and one of the nation's best dual-threat quarterback recruits has a big arm, too.
FACTS & FIGURES
UCF is beginning play in its fourth conference since moving to the FBS level. The Knights have played in the MAC, Conference USA and American Athletic before joining the Big 12. ... UCF leads the nation in total offense at 617.7 yards per game. That includes 723 against Kent State to open the season, the most by any team this season. ... The Knights are second nationally in rush offense at 299.3 yards per game. ... UCF last started 4-0 in 2018. ... Malzahn needs two wins to reach 100 for his career. ... Wildcats LB Daniel Green has been lost for the season after hurting his shoulder against Missouri. RB Treshaun Ward is unlikely to play after also getting hurt against the Tigers. ... The Wildcats rank third nationally in run defense, allowing 50 yards per game. ... Kansas State has 133 wins in Big 12 play, trailing only Oklahoma and Texas, who are leaving the conference after this season.