We continue our series today by looking at No. 23 – Central Florida.
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No. 24: Texas
Nuts and bolts
Location: Orlando, Fla.
Coach: Josh Heupel (first season)
2017: 13-0, 8-0 AAC (defeated Auburn 34-27 in the Peach Bowl)
Last league title: 2017
Three things to know
1. New coach. Scott Frost headed home to try and revive a stagnant Nebraska program. Enter Josh Heupel, the 2000 runner-up for the Heisman Trophy who led Oklahoma to a national championship that season.
Heupel served as offensive coordinator most recently at Missouri, and should bring a big-play philosophy to a Knights team that ranked first in scoring offense under Frost.
The Knights are coming off a perfect 13-0 season – declaring themselves the “national champions” – so Heupel is stepping into an enviable situation.
2. Same QB. The Knights are expected to have an explosive offense yet again. Why? Quarterback McKenzie Milton returns after passing for 4,037 yards and rushing for 613 yards.
Milton will have playmakers on the outside, too, with Dredrick Snelson headlining the receiver corps. At tight end, watch out for Jake Hescock, who transferred from Wisconsin and is a big target at 6-foot-7.
3. D makeover. Former Miami head coach Randy Shannon is in his first season as defensive coordinator, and will have his work cut out for him. The Knights lost standout cornerback Mike Hughes, a first-round draft pick, as well as feel-good story linebacker Shaquem Griffin.
But there is still talent on that side of the ball, starting with linebackers Pat Jasinski and Titus Davis and returning secondary starters in Kyle Gibson and Tre Neal.
Three games to watch
1. Sept. 15 at North Carolina. North Carolina is coming off its worst season under Larry Fedora, and will be looking to have a rebound year. This should be UCF’s first big test of the season.
2. Sept. 21 vs. FAU. Lane Kiffin has put Florida Atlantic in the headlines, and has a standout running back in Devin Singletary. Both of these teams are looking to sneak into a New Year’s Six bowl.
3. Nov. 23 at South Florida. If all goes well, South Florida will be looking to ruin a second straight perfect regular season by UCF. South Florida went 10-2 last season, but is facing are building year.