The Palm Beach Post

Knights’ shine hardly dulled by Kiffin, Owls

- Twitter: @tomdangelo­44 By Tom D’Angelo Palm Beach Post Staff Writer

ORLANDO — Florida Atlantic University Athletic Director Brian White nearly had the perfect opportunit­y to troll his brother and counterpar­t at Central Florida, Danny White.

In the end, it wasn’t that close, but the Owls hung with No. 16 UCF for a half Friday night before being overwhelme­d by the offensive juggernaut.

The Knights extended their nation-long winning streak to 16 games with a 56-36 victory that didn’t get out of hand until late. The self-proclaimed defending national champions — a claim started and pushed by AD Danny White — were tested for the first time in three games this season. The difference, though, was UCF has quarterbac­k McKenzie Milton, who boosted his Heisman Trophy candidacy by accounting for six touchdowns, three passing and three rushing.

D’Angelo Tom D’Angelo

But let’s, for one minute, imagine. Suppose FAU pulled off the upset and defeated the team that last year defeated the team (Auburn) that defeated both teams (Alabama and Georgia) that played in the national title game. Whew.

And that team (UCF) was the only undefeated team in the country — hence boasting of being No. 1 — and had not lost this season.

Imagine the fun Brian White could have with that around the family dinner table.

Instead, the best the Owls can claim is progress during this first month of the season, although Kiffin finds nothing positive out of a loss, no matter the opponent.

“I expect to win these games,” he said.

But Kiffin also waxed on about the disservice being done to Central Florida, saying the Knights deserve to be about 10 spots higher in the polls.

“If UCF has a different logo on their shirt, SEC or ACC, guys are voting them top probably six in the country,” Kiffin said. “Nation’s longest winning streak, two blowouts already this season, finished the season beating Auburn.”

And Central Florida is not backing down on that national championsh­ip hyperbole. The slogan is on T-shirts and banners and billboards. And why shouldn’t the Knights puff their chests? They just keep winning and scoring points like they are playing in a 7-on-7 summer league.

UCF is averaging 50 points in its three wins.

FAU (2-2) has sandwiched road losses to

No. 5 Oklahoma and

UCF around home victories over Air Force and Bethune-Cookman as it heads into its conference schedule. The Owls were crushed by Oklahoma in Week 1, trailing by four touchdowns after one quarter and returning home with a $1.2 million check and a 63-14 loss.

Friday’s game started the same way, with UCF jumping to a 14-0 lead seven minutes into the game, but the Owls got Devin Singletary’s motor going and put a brief scare into the Knights. It was still a two-score game with just over three minutes remaining before UCF iced it with two touchdowns in 61 seconds, including a pick-six.

See, progress.

“We’re not in a bad situation right now,” running back Kerrith Whyte said.

Nearly every move Kiffin has made since arriving in Boca Raton has worked. And that was true for a half Friday.

In the first quarter, Kiffin sent out his offense twice on fourth down and twice he had quarterbac­k Chris Robison quick kick. Those punts totaled 104 yards.

“That’s the best thing he did,” Kiffin said, adding Robison wasn’t very good and “still has work to do.” Robison completed half of his 26 passes and was intercepte­d three times.

Kiffin sent out the punt team on the next fourth down and called a successful fake that led to FAU’s first score of the game.

FAU then converted a fourth-and-7, which came as it was on a 17-0 run. Suddenly it was 17-14 Owls, marking the first time UCF has trailed all season.

Of course, that lasted for all of 63 seconds as Milton went back to work.

“We tried everything we possibly could to win this game,” Kiffin said.

With four nonconfere­nce games out of the way, FAU can start the true purpose of the season, defending its Conference USA crown. FAU’s game at Middle Tennessee next Saturday is the first of eight straight in the conference. A year ago, the Owls were unbeaten in league play, winning nine (including the title game) by an average of more than 22 points.

“Our goal is always to win the conference; I tell the players that from Day 1,” Kiffin said. “All this playoff talk and crap people talk about before the season is ridiculous. Our second year here, we’ve got a long way to go for that to even be a question.” quick touchdown drives and Miami’s final series to run another that ended with a out the clock. field goal before the first half Finally, a flag: The holdMIAMI GARDENS — The Malik ended. He finished 17 of 25 ing call on Nesta Silvera that Rosier era likely is coming for 224 yards, three touchnegat­ed what would have to an end at Miami. downs and one intercepti­on. been a long punt return for

With 7:35 remaining in The quarterbac­ks were a touchdown by Jeff Thomas the first quarter Saturday, made aware of the plan early in the game was Miami’s after the Hurricanes man- during the week. Richt said first penalty in nearly two aged 35 yards on their first the top three (Perry, Rosier games. two possession­s, coach Mark and Cade Weldon) each had The Hurricanes did not Richt stuck with his plan reps with the first and sec- commit a penalty at Toledo to insert redshirt freshman ond teams and were told that last week and their only flag N’Kosi Perry. Perry would be entering on against Savannah State on

Richt, then, had no choice the third series. Sept. 8 was a 15-yard face but to keep Perry on the field That plan looked genius mask by Michael Pinkney after seeing his offense ener- after the Hurricanes strug- about three minutes into gized. Miami was dominant gled to move the ball on their the game. for three quarters and set- first two possession­s. Carter makes first start: tled for a 31-17 victory over From that point, Perry just Sophomore safety Amari Florida Internatio­nal at Hard waited for the word before Carter of Palm Beach GarRock Stadium. it became apparent it was dens made his first career

“Here’s exactly what I said his game. start Saturday, filling in for to myself, ‘He will go in for “I didn’t know what he the injured Jaquan Johnson. the third series and we’ll see had planned in his mind, Carter, who had one tackle how it goes,’” Richt said. “I all I knew was to be ready against FIU, played in two of left it to that and I thought when he called my name,” the first three games, makit was going well enough to Perry said. “He didn’t come ing six tackles, including keep him in there.” up to us and say I’m going to two for losses and a sack.

Richt, though, would not play the rest of the game. He Johnson missed Saturday’s commit to Perry being the said, ‘N’Kosi you’re still in.’ “game after suffering a hampermane­nt starter. Miami Rosier completed two string strain during the first opens ACC play Thursday at of his three passes for 16 half at Toledo. home against North Carolina. yards before taking a seat. Junior left guard Venzell

Rosier, a redshirt senior, He then spent the rest of the Boulware and freshman is 13-4 as a starter. game wearing a headset and receiver Brian Hightower also

“We’re going to run with mentoring Perry. Perry was made their starting debuts. (what) I think gives us the replaced by fellow redshirt Boulware replaced senior best chance of winning. freshman Cade Weldon with Jahair Jones and Hightower That’s who’s going to play,” seven minutes remaining in was in when Miami opened Richt said. “Tonight, it was the game. However, after with three receivers. N’Kosi.” the Panthers put up 17 quick

Perry led Miami to two points, Perry returned for

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