In the aftermath of the destruction caused throughout Florida by Hurricane Ian, the American Athletic Conference announced Friday that it’s moving the conference opener for UCF and SMU in Orlando to Wednesday evening.
It’s the second time the game has been rescheduled, first from Saturday to Sunday.
Coach Gus Malzahn said earlier this week his Knights would be prepared for whatever they had to do with the powerful storm approaching. It made landfall Wednesday on the west coast of Florida, then moved through Orlando with drenching rains and high winds. More than 420,000 customers in Central Florida remained without power on Friday.
“We’re just taking it day by day,” Malzahn said earlier this week, before the hurricane wreaked havoc. “We’re going about our business like we’re going to play the game and everything that goes with it.”
The Knights (3-1) didn’t play very well offensively in a 27-10 win over visiting Georgia Tech last week, while SMU (2-2) lost its second straight game by falling at home to rival TCU 42-34.
For UCF, John Rhys Plumlee failed to complete a pass in the first quarter against the Yellow Jackets. He finished the day completing just 8 of 16 passes for 49 yards, no touchdowns and an interception.
But the quarterback did have 16 carries for a team-high 100 yards and a touchdown, powering a rushing attack that ran for 284 yards. With contributions from RJ Harvey and Isaiah Bowser, the Knights averaged 5.1 yards per carry.
SMU gave up touchdowns on four of TCU’s first five possessions, fell behind 28-7 midway through the second quarter and never recovered. The Mustangs rolled up 476 yards of total offense, but were hampered by a pair of interceptions thrown by Tanner Mordecai.
Mordecai has completed 58.4 percent of his passes for 1,385 yards with 12 touchdowns and five interceptions. He’s thrown a touchdown pass to eight different receivers, led by four to Rashee Rice, who also leads the team with 34 catches for 565 yards.
Tre Siggers has rushed for 200 yards and four touchdowns on 50 carries.
UCF features a much more run-oriented attack behind Plumlee, who has rushed for a team-high 404 yards to go along with four scores. Bowser has 228 yards and a team-high five rushing touchdowns on 69 carries.
The opposing coaches know each other pretty well. First-year SMU coach Rhett Lashlee was the offensive coordinator at Auburn from 2013 to 2016, the beginning of Malzahn’s tenure as head coach of the Tigers. That stretch included a national championship appearance in 2013.
“They might be the most talented team in our league, and there’s some really talented teams,” Lashlee said of UCF.
–Field Level Media