No. 15 UCF looks to extend unbeaten streak at Pittsburgh
No. 15 UCF (3-0) at Pittsburgh (1-2), Saturday at 3:30 p.m. EDT (ESPN2).
Line: UCF by 11 1/2.
Series record: Tied 1-1.
WHAT’S AT STAKE?
The Golden Knights bring a 27-game regular season unbeaten streak to Pittsburgh with a chance to get another resume-building win over a Power Five team before heading into American Athletic Conference play. UCF dominated the Panthers 45-14 in Orlando last year, piling up 568 yards in the process. Pitt is looking to rebound from a 17-10 loss to in-state rival Penn State last week, a game in which the Panthers opted to attempt a field goal rather than go for it on fourth-and-goal late in the fourth quarter. The kick missed and the Nittany Lions held on.
Pitt’s passing game against UCF’s secondary. Junior quarterback Kenny Pickett is starting to thrive in new offensive coordinator Mark Whipple’s pass-centric attack. Pickett has set career highs in yards passing in each of his last two games and with Pitt’s running game stuck in neutral, Pickett will likely have to match UCF quarterback Dillon Gabriel or Brandon Wimbush — whoever gets the start — throw for throw.
PLAYERS TO WATCH
UCF: WR Gabriel Davis. The Golden Knights like to spread the ball around, yet when they’re looking for a big play, they turn to Davis. The junior is averaging 22.9 yards per reception so far this season, with three touchdowns. The numbers aren’t skewed by one completion either. Davis’ longest grab is 45 yards, meaning he’s getting down the field consistently. He’ll match up against a secondary that might be among the best in the Atlantic Coast Conference.
Pitt: DT Jaylen Twyman. The sophomore wears former Pitt and current NFL star Aaron Donald’s No. 97 for a reason. Pressed into an expanded role after a preseason injury to Rashad Weaver, Twyman has become a force in the middle. His 4 1/2 sacks rank fifth nationally. His three sacks against Ohio were the most by a Pitt defensive tackle since Donald had three against Utah in 2011.
FACTS & FIGURES
UCF is still unsettled at quarterback. Wimbush missed Week 2 against Florida Atlantic with an undisclosed injury and played one snap against Stanford. Gabriel has thrown for nine touchdowns so far, but head coach Josh Heupel has declined to name a starter. ... UCF is 13th nationally in total defense (253 yards per game). ... Golden Knights have forced a turnover in 32 straight games. Pitt hasn’t committed a turnover in either of its last two contests.
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