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KU Jayhawks look to rebound against new Big 12 foe UCF

Kansas Texas Football
Posted at 6:06 AM, Oct 05, 2023

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.

UCF quarterback John Rhys Plumlee could return. He has been out since hurting his knee against Boise State three weeks ago.

UCF (3-2, 0-2 Big 12) at Kansas (4-1, 1-1), Saturday, 4 p.m. ET (FOX)

Line: Kansas by 2 1/2, according to FanDuel Sportsbook.

Series record: First meeting.

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.

KEY MATCHUP

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.

FACTS & FIGURES

UCF had 201 yards of offense in the first quarter against Baylor, its most in the first 15 minutes of a game since 235 against Stanford on Sept. 14, 2019. ... The Knights scored a touchdown on their first three drives. ... UCF is fifth nationally in total offense at 545.8 yards per game. They have surpassed 400 yards in each game. ... UCF's Tre'mon Morris-Brash leads the nation with 12 tackles-for-loss. The DE's five sacks are tied for fourth-most nationally. ... Kansas had a season-low 124 yards rushing last week against Texas. ... The Jayhawks were 0 for 8 on third down against the Longhorns. They had led the nation at 60.5% conversion rate entering the game. ... Kansas will be adding Tony Sands and Nick Reid to its ring of honor. ... Jayhawks WR Luke Grimm only has 14 receptions for 177 yards but three catches have gone for touchdowns. ... The Jayhawks have allowed five sacks through five games, the second-fewest in the Big 12. They allowed 12 sacks all of last season.