PHILADELPHIA (AP) — McKenzie Milton threw four touchdown passes and ran for a score as No. 14 Central Florida comfortably took care of business against Temple, winning 45-19 Saturday to stay unbeaten heading into a showdown with rival USF.
The Knights (10-0, 7-0 American Athletic conference, CFP No. 15) turned three Temple turnovers inside the Owls’ 25 into 17 first-half points, taking a 31-10 lead when Gabriel Davis stretched across the goal line for a 5-yard touchdown reception with 2:36 left in the second quarter.
The AAC East Division will be decided on Black Friday in Orlando, Florida, when No. 23 South Florida (9-1, 6-1) visits UCF. Temple (5-6, 3-4) could have been easy to overlook for the Knights. The game had no bearing on whether they play for a conference title and a loss probably wouldn’t have damaged their chances to play in a New Year’s Six bowl.
With speculation swirling about where second-year coach Scott Frost might be coaching next and a huge game looming, the Knights insisted earlier in the week they would not be distracted. Mission accomplished.
“I was a little worried about this game, being the game before the game,” Frost said. “Being in the cold, being our ninth straight week playing a football game. A lot of factors pointed toward this one potentially being a tough one and our guys responded.”
Shaquem Griffin, the 2016 AAC defensive player of the year whose left hand was amputated when he was 4, was all over the field for the UCF defense. He forced a fumble in the first half that set up a score and made his second career interception in the second half, running step-for-step down field with a receiver and cradling the ball into his chest.
“When you got big games and you got games coming up, it’s very hard to focus on just one but I think that we’ve been doing a really good job of just focusing on one game at a time. And you kind of see where it led us,” Griffin said.
Frank Nutile, who helped revive Temple’s offense when he took over at quarterback four games ago, was picked off four times. Nutile said he apologized to his teammates for a poor game.
“At the end of the day our goal is to send the seniors off the right way. Finish off 6-6. Get bowl eligible and stuff like that. It’s still right,” Nutile said.
UCF: The Knights have so many ways to attack. Six different players scored touchdowns, including freshman Otis Anderson, who is listed on the depth chart as a wide receiver but is also one of the team’s leading rushers. He had 62 yards on five carries against Temple and caught a touchdown pass.
Temple: The Owls tried to slow the pace against the Knights, but turnovers killed that plan. Temple is not built to get into a back-and-forth game with the highest scoring team in the country.
UCF: The War on I-4 has never been bigger.
Temple: The Owls try again to reach bowl eligibility, this time at Tulsa.
“Can’t wait,” UCF linebacker Pat Jasinski said. “Can’t wait.”
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