Nov 11, 2023; Fayetteville, Arkansas, USA;  Arkansas Razorbacks quarterback KJ Jefferson (1) runs the ball during the second quarter in the game against the Auburn Tigersat Donald W. Reynolds Razorback Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Brett Rojo-USA TODAY Sports

Arkansas transfer QB KJ Jefferson commits to UCF

Former Arkansas quarterback KJ Jefferson announced on social media Monday that he will transfer to UCF for his final season of eligibility.

Jefferson, 22, completed 64.2 percent of his passes for the Razorbacks in 12 starts last season, throwing for 19 touchdowns and eight interceptions. The Razorbacks finished 4-8.

Jefferson played just three games as a true freshman in 2019 and made two starts over eight games from 2019-20. As the full-time starting QB for the Razorbacks in 2021, he threw for 21 touchdowns and four interceptions then followed that in 2022 with 24 TDs and five interceptions.

All told, Jefferson has amassed 7,911 passing yards, 67 touchdowns and 18 interceptions as well as 1,876 rushing yards and 21 touchdowns in parts of five seasons in Fayetteville.

Shortly after Jefferson announced he would move to UCF, wide receiver Kobe Hudson announced he would return to the Knights in 2024. Hudson, a former Auburn transfer, had 44 catches for 900 yards and eight TDs this past season.

–Field Level Media

Dec 22, 2023; Tampa, FL, USA; UCF Knights quarterback John Rhys Plumlee (10) runs the ball around Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets defensive back Clayton Powell-Lee (5) during the first half of the Gasparilla Bowl at Raymond James Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Jasen Vinlove-USA TODAY Sports

Gasparilla Bowl: Haynes King helps Georgia Tech knock off UCF

Haynes King threw for a touchdown and rushed for another to lift Georgia Tech to a 30-17 victory over UCF on Friday in the Gasparilla Bowl in Orlando, Fla.

Jamal Haynes rushed for a career-high 128 yards and King added 89 for the Yellow Jackets (7-6), who rolled up for 284 yards on the ground. Dontae Smith also rushed for 65 yards and a touchdown as Georgia Tech overcame an early 14-point deficit en route to recording its fourth win in six outings.

Aidan Birr drilled field goals of 36, 29 and 38 yards for the Yellow Jackets.

UCF’s John Rhys Plumlee completed 16 of 29 passes for 198 yards and tossed a scoring strike to both Javon Baker and Kobe Hudson. Baker had nine catches for 173 yards and RJ Harvey rushed for 120 yards for the Knights (6-7), who have lost seven of their last 10 games.

UCF bolted out of the blocks as Plumlee connected on a pair of touchdown passes to give his team an early 14-0 lead. Baker reeled in a 23-yard pass from Plumlee to cap the opening drive and Hudson added a 17-yard reception to complete a 10-play, 98-yard drive with 6:26 remaining in the first quarter.

The teams traded field goals before King ignited a pair of scoring drives to allow Georgia Tech to forge a 17-17 tie at halftime. King scored from 5 yards out with 4:23 to play in the second quarter for his 10th rushing touchdown of the season. He then connected on an inside post with Malik Rutherford, who gained a step on two defenders and reeled in a 41-yard touchdown pass.

Birr drilled a 29-yard field goal to give the Yellow Jackets their first lead of the contest at 20-17 with 12:07 remaining in the third quarter.

Georgia Tech relied on its ground attack on its next scoring drive. The Yellow Jackets ran the ball on 12 of 13 plays, capped by Smith’s 1-yard touchdown to take a 27-17 lead with 13:37 remaining in the fourth quarter.

Birr made his third field goal with 4:52 to play in the fourth quarter and UCF turned the ball over on downs on its ensuing possession and tossed an interception on its final offensive play.

–Field Level Media

Oct 28, 2023; Lawrence, Kansas, USA; Oklahoma Sooners quarterback Dillon Gabriel (8) runs the ball as Kansas Jayhawks linebacker Rich Miller (30) defends during the game at David Booth Kansas Memorial Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Denny Medley-USA TODAY Sports

Oregon lands veteran transfer QB Dillon Gabriel

Former Oklahoma quarterback Dillon Gabriel will complete his college career at Oregon.

Gabriel entered the transfer portal earlier this week and announced the move to Oregon on social media on Saturday. At Oregon, he presumably will walk into the starter’s job as the Ducks seek a replacement for Heisman Trophy finalist Bo Nix.

Gabriel’s college career began in 2019 at UCF and he spent three seasons there, with his 2021 campaign cut short because of a season-ending shoulder injury suffered in the third game. He then moved on to Oklahoma and will be a sixth-year senior at Oregon with one year of eligibility left.

In 2023, he completed 266 of 384 passes for 3,660 yards with 30 touchdowns and six interceptions. He also ran and ran for 373 yards and has 12 touchdowns.

In all, Gabriel has thrown for 14,865 yards with a completion rate of 63.1 percent with 125 touchdowns and 26 interceptions in his five college seasons.

A native of Hawaii, Gabriel turns 23 later this month.

–Field Level Media

Nov 18, 2023; Lubbock, Texas, USA;  Central Florida Knights running back RJ Harvey (7) rushes against Texas Tech Red Raiders defensive end Jacob Rodriguez (10) in the first half at Jones AT&T Stadium and Cody Campbell Field. Mandatory Credit: Michael C. Johnson-USA TODAY Sports

UCF takes on Houston, bids to become bowl eligible

UCF will look to capitalize on its second opportunity to become bowl eligible when it hosts Houston on Saturday afternoon in Big 12 Conference action in Orlando, Fla.

The first chance did not go well for the Knights (5-6, 2-6), who squandered a 14-point lead and dropped a 24-23 decision to Texas Tech last Saturday. The win allowed the Red Raiders to become bowl eligible.

Now, UCF will need to defeat another first-time Big 12 member in Houston in order to become bowl eligible for the eighth straight season. The Knights and Cougars spent the previous 10 campaigns in the American Athletic Conference.

UCF will honor its seniors before Saturday’s high-stakes matchup, which is a fact not lost on fifth-year quarterback John Rhys Plumlee.

“I try to cherish the moment, cherish the opportunity I have,” Plumlee said, per the Orlando Sentinel. “This will be another opportunity for me to do just that. (To) be thankful for the opportunity presented and then get a win for the Knights.”

RJ Harvey rushed for two touchdowns against Texas Tech, boosting his total to eight in the last three games and 14 for the season.

While UCF is bidding to become bowl eligible, Houston (4-7, 2-6) squandered a chance at that goal by losing four of its last five games. The Cougars fell 43-30 to Oklahoma State last week.

Undaunted, Houston coach Dana Holgorsen said Saturday’s game should have plenty of meaning for his team.

“This is a Big 12 Conference matchup,” Holgorsen said. “Us and (UCF) are going through the same thing. It’s all transition. It’s hard every week. If that helps being a spoiler, so to speak, then sure, we’re always going to use whatever we can use from a motivation perspective to try and give you any kind of advantage.”

Against the Cowboys, Donovan Smith threw a 60-yard touchdown pass to Jonah Wilson, rushed for a 31-yard score, and reeled in a 28-yard TD pass from Joseph Manjack IV.

–Field Level Media

UCF's running back RJ Harvey (7) scores a touchdown against Texas Tech, Saturday, Nov. 18, 2023, at Jones AT&T Stadium.

Texas Tech earns third straight win, 24-23 over UCF

Texas Tech found just enough rhythm in the running game in the second half Saturday to squeak out a 24-23 win over visiting UFC on Saturday in Lubbock, Texas.

With a third straight win, Texas Tech became bowl eligible for the second consecutive year.

With senior Tahj Brooks leading the way, the Red Raiders carved out 110 rushing yards on 22 carries after halftime to hold on.

Brooks accounted for every one of those yards in the second half to finish with 182 rushing yards total. He was the centerpiece of three fourth-quarter series when Texas Tech (6-5, 5-3 Big 12) ate up large chunks of clock to keep the Knights’ offense on the sideline.

UCF (5-6, 2-6) did strike for a big play in the final period when a cornerback blitz left Javon Baker wide open. John Rhys Plumlee delivered the 71-yard touchdown toss to pull the Knights within 24-23. But kicker Colton Boomer shanked the extra-point try to leave UCF down by a point.

Texas Tech never gave the Knights a chance to erase that mistake by running out the final 5:30 on a 12-play drive. Brooks ran eight times for 34 yards to keep the Red Raiders moving the chains.

Boomer also missed a 32-yard field goal attempt late in the third quarter when the score was deadlocked 14-14.

Following that miss, Texas Tech gained the upper hand for the first time when Brooks bolted 13 yards off right tackle to cross the goal line with 11 seconds left in the third frame. The Red Raiders cashed in on a costly interception moments before.

The Knights got the ball back at their own 19-yard-line but on the first play, Plumlee hurried a throw and his pass fluttered short and CJ Baskerville snared the interception for TTU.

The teams fought to a 14-14 halftime tie with the Knights jumping ahead 14-0 in the first quarter and the Red Raiders responding with two TDs to pull even.

UCF had a chance to go to the intermission in front when it drove 73 yards in the closing minute of the second quarter. But Plumlee threw a pass to the middle of the field in the closing seconds and the Knights couldn’t get set up for another play as time expired.

Before that gaffe, UCF rushed for 168 first-half yards, the most the Red Raiders allowed in a half this season.

–Field Level Media

Nov 11, 2023; Orlando, Florida, USA; UCF Knights running back RJ Harvey (7) celebrates after scoring a touchdown during the first quarter against the Oklahoma State Cowboys at FBC Mortgage Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Mike Watters-USA TODAY Sports

UCF scores huge 45-3 upset of No. 15 Oklahoma State

UCF’s R.J. Harvey stole the show from FBS rushing leader Ollie Gordon II, rolling for a career-high 206 yards to lead the Knights to a stunning 45-3 upset of No. 15 Oklahoma State Saturday in Orlando, Fla.

A week after gaining its first conference victory in its first season in the Big 12, UCF (5-5, 2-4) won its second straight in dominant fashion as John Rhys Plumlee threw three touchdown passes, all to Kobe Hudson.

Harvey ran for three scores, including a 92-yard back-breaking touchdown sprint in the third quarter.

It was a crushing defeat for Oklahoma State (7-3, 5-2), which was riding a five-game winning streak, including a 27-24 upset last week of rival Oklahoma in the Bedlam Series.

The loss dealt a blow to the Cowboys hopes of reaching the Big 12 title game for the second time in program history.

UCF, which entered with the fourth worst rushing defense in the FBS, limited Gordon to 25 yards on 12 rushes. During the Cowboys winning streak, Gordon had averaged 198.8 yards rushing per game.

Demari Henderson led the Knights’ defense with two interceptions and a fumble recovery.

UCF outgained Oklahoma State 592-277. Plumlee completed 11 of 18 passes for 299 yards. He also rushed 14 times for 74 yards.

It was a perfect first quarter for the Knights as they scored touchdowns on their first two possessions and forced turnovers the first two times the Cowboys got the ball.

On the opening series, Harvey capped a 75-yard drive, taking a snap from Wildcat formation and scoring on a 1-yard run.

On Oklahoma State’s ensuing possession, UCF’s Jireh Wilson knocked the ball out of Gordon’s grasp and Henderson recovered at the Knights’ 43.

Four plays later, Plumlee threw a 7-yard touchdown pass to Hudson, giving UCF a 14-0 lead.

Early in the second quarter, Hudson backtracked to grab an underthrown Plumlee pass and sprinted to the end zone on a 75-yard touchdown reception which put UCF up 24-0.

Javon Baker had 112 yards on four receptions for UCF.

UCF improved to 7-0 in its annual Space Game. The school was established in 1963 as Florida Technological University to provide personnel to support the U.S. space program.

–Field Level Media

Oklahoma State's Ollie Gordon II (0) celebrates a Alan Bowman (7) touchdown in the first half during a Bedlam college football game between the Oklahoma State University Cowboys (OSU) and the University of Oklahoma Sooners (OU) at Boone Pickens Stadium in Stillwater, Okla., Saturday, Nov. 4, 2023.

No. 15 Oklahoma St. attempts to avoid post-Bedlam letdown

Anyone playing a drinking game in which they took a sip each time Oklahoma State coach Mike Gundy said “moving forward” during his Monday news conference would have been woozy within the first few minutes.

Gundy is trying to distance his team from one of the most exhilarating wins in his 19 seasons as the Cowboys coach, a 27-24 victory over then-No. 9 Oklahoma last week in the last scheduled Bedlam rivalry game between the in-state foes.

Now he wants No. 15 Oklahoma State to zero in on its Saturday game against UCF in Orlando.

Considering the wild scene after the upset of the Sooners, it may not be easy for the Cowboys (7-2, 5-1 Big 12) to shift their focus to the Knights (4-5, 1-5).

Oklahoma State’s win over Oklahoma triggered a field-storming rampage as fans toppled a goal post and hauled the wreckage to an on-campus pond.

On Monday, moments after Gundy said that he told his staff, “I don’t want to hear it anymore,” in reference to the Oklahoma game, the next question was about the film from Saturday.

“You’re not even letting me move forward,” said Gundy, joking with a reporter.

Something that might help get the Cowboys focused on UCF is their new College Football Playoff ranking. They moved up seven notches in latest ratings revealed on Tuesday, the biggest jump of any team this week.

With their three remaining games all against teams that are in their first year in the Big 12, the Cowboys are in good position to gain a berth in the conference title game.

Oklahoma State has won five straight, all in the conference, with three of the victories coming over teams that are currently ranked.

Since a 2-2 start that included a horrific 33-7 loss to South Alabama, Oklahoma State has seen significant improvement on the offensive line.

Gundy said that there weren’t any key changes. It was just a matter of the staff reassessing the strengths of the line, along with committing to Ollie Gordon II as the primary running back.

“I just went in and said, ‘Let’s talk about who we are and what’s the best thing we can do,’” Gundy said.

After averaging 57.5 yards on the ground in the Cowboys’ first four games, Gordon has averaged 165.7 yards during the winning streak to become the top rusher in the FBS.

He carried the ball 33 times for 137 yards and two touchdowns against Oklahoma while Cowboys quarterback Alan Bowman completed 28 of 42 passes for 334 yards without a touchdown or an interception.

UCF enters on a high, as well, after capturing its first conference win since joining the Big 12 this season.

The Knights won 28-26 at Cincinnati last week to snap a five-game losing streak, their longest skid since going 0-12 in 2015.

RJ Harvey propelled UCF with 164 yards rushing and three touchdowns, both career highs. It was Harvey’s fourth straight 100-yard game as he is thriving in coach Gus Malzahn’s run-heavy offense.

The Knights lead the Big 12 in rushing, averaging 227.1 yards per game (good for fourth in the country). However, they also rank last in the conference in rushing yards allowed, surrendering 211.9 per game (fourth worst in the nation), making for a tough matchup with Gordon and the Cowboys.

“Probably the hottest team in the country right now,” Malzahn said of Oklahoma State. “They know who they are now. They’re gonna give it to that big dude. He can run it downhill. Fourth quarter, he imposes his will on people.”

–Field Level Media

Oct 21, 2023; Norman, Oklahoma, USA;  UCF Knights head coach Gus Malzahn during the game against the Oklahoma Sooners at Gaylord Family-Oklahoma Memorial Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Kevin Jairaj-USA TODAY Sports

UCF edges Cincinnati for first Big 12 victory

RJ Harvey rushed 19 times for a career-high 165 yards and three touchdowns as UCF earned its first Big 12 win, defeating host Cincinnati 28-26 on Saturday afternoon.

Cincinnati (2-7, 0-6 Big 12) had a chance to tie the score with 1:27 left, but UCF linebacker Jason Johnson broke up a two-point-conversion pass in the end zone.

Quarterback John Rhys Plumlee passed for 165 yards and ran for 39 as the Knights (4-5, 1-5) snapped a five-game losing streak, their longest skid since 2015.

Cincinnati was led by running backs Ryan Montgomery (113 yards, 14.1 average, one touchdown) and Corey Kiner (114 yards, 6.0 average, one TD). Wide receiver Braden Smith had six catches for 114 yards and one TD.

However, the Bearcats have lost seven straight games, their longest skid since dropping nine consecutive contests in 1998. The Bearcats, who, like UCF, are new to the Big 12 this year, have yet to win a game in the league.

Cincinnati safety Bryon Threats was ejected in the first quarter for putting his hands on a referee. The ref was trying to break up an altercation between Threats and a blocker.

The Bearcats took the opening kickoff and converted on fourth down before scoring on Carter Brown’s 39-yard field goal.

On its next possession, Cincinnati went for it again on fourth-and-1. This time, quarterback Emory Jones (16 for 22, 217 yards, one touchdown, one interception) fired incomplete, and UCF took over on its 41.

Plumlee scored on the ensuing drive, finding the end zone on an 8-yard run. Two 15-yard penalties – including one by Threats on third down – contributed to the score.

UCF took a 14-3 lead in the second quarter on Harvey’s 13-yard run. That was set up by a fumble from Cincinnati wide receiver Xzavier Henderson, recovered by UCF’s Jason Johnson.

Cincinnati closed out the first-half scoring on Jones’ 11-yard touchdown pass to Smith in the right corner of the end zone. Two runs totaling 41 yards by Montgomery set up the TD.

The teams traded touchdowns in the third quarter — a 2-yard run by Montgomery to give Cincinnati a 17-14 lead and a 25-yard run by Harvey to put UCF back on top.

With 6:21 left in the fourth, Brown’s 28-yard field goal cut Cincinnati’s deficit to 21-20. Jones’ 35-yard pass to Smith on 4th-and-9 keyed the drive.

Harvey’s one-yard TD run on third-and-goal gave UCF a 28-20 lead with 2:41 left.

Cincinnati made it 28-26 on Kiner’s six-yard run with 1:27 left, leading to a failure on the two-point conversion and the ensuing onside kick.

–Field Level Media

Oct 28, 2023; Orlando, Florida, USA; UCF Knights running back RJ Harvey (7) catches a pass in front of West Virginia Mountaineers linebacker Caden Biser (36) during the second half at FBC Mortgage Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Mike Watters-USA TODAY Sports

UCF, Cincinnati desperate for first Big 12 victory

The Big 12 has not been kind to conference newcomers UCF and Cincinnati.

In their first year in the league, neither squad has come up with a Big 12 win.

That will change on Saturday when the Bearcats (2-6, 0-5) play host to the Knights (3-5, 0-5).

Both programs have enjoyed glory years of recent vintage.

UCF, for example, went 13-0 in 2017 and 35-4 over a three-year span that also included 2018 and 2019. The Knights entered this season with seven straight bowl appearances.

As for Cincinnati, the Bearcats became the first non-Power 5 program to qualify for the College Football Playoff when they did so in 2021. The Bearcats have played in five straight bowl games, going 53-11 during that span.

Both teams figure to have their bowl streaks end this season … unless either can stage a dramatic comeback.

Cincinnati has lost six straight games — its longest skid since 1998.

New Bearcats coach Scott Satterfield benched sixth-year quarterback Emory Jones in favor of Brady Lichtenberg in the fourth quarter last week during a 45-13 setback against Oklahoma State.

In three games this year, Lichtenberg is 10-for-16 for 144 yards, two touchdowns and no interceptions. Jones has 1,601 passing yards, 13 TD passes and nine picks this season.

Satterfield didn’t say who would start at quarterback this week, but the coach wasn’t ruling anything out.

“Guys who are making plays need to be on the field,” Satterfield said. “(Lichtenberg) sparked the guys a little bit (against the Cowboy).”

Satterfield also mentioned freshman wide receiver Barry Jackson Jr. as a player who likely will get more playing time. Jackson has one catch for 65 yards and a score this year.

UCF, meanwhile, has lost five straight games, its longest skid since going 0-12 in 2015. The Knights fell 41-28 to visiting West Virginia last week. Knights fifth-year quarterback John Rhys Plumlee had four turnovers in that game, including three interceptions.

“Nobody’s more disappointed than I am,” UCF coach Gus Malzahn said on Monday. “Cincinnati is in a similar spot than us (winless in the league).

“We’ve lost five in a row. That’s new territory for me. We have to do whatever it takes to win.”

–Field Level Media

Oct 21, 2023; Norman, Oklahoma, USA;  Oklahoma Sooners quarterback Dillon Gabriel (8) throws during the second quarter against the UCF Knights at Gaylord Family-Oklahoma Memorial Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Kevin Jairaj-USA TODAY Sports

Dillon Gabriel leads No. 6 Oklahoma past his former school, UCF

Dillon Gabriel threw for 253 yards and three touchdowns against his former school as No. 6 Oklahoma avoided an upset with a 31-29 come-from-behind victory over UCF on Saturday in Norman, Okla.

The game came down to a failed two-point conversion try with 1:16 left after John Rhys Plumlee hit Javon Baker for a 12-yard touchdown to pull the Knights within two.

UCF tried to pass the ball after a lateral on the conversion, but the Sooners snuffed it out to maintain the lead, then recovered the onside kick to put the game away.

After the Sooners extended their lead to 31-23 on Gavin Sawchuk’s 30-yard touchdown run with 3:13 left, the Knights kept it interesting.

UCF drove to the Oklahoma 12, where the Sooners stopped the Knights on three consecutive pass plays before Baker’s touchdown.

Baker finished with five catches for 134 yards and two touchdowns. Plumlee was 16 of 30 for 248 yards and two TDs.
Gabriel played for UCF, then of the American Athletic Conference, from 2019-21 before transferring to Oklahoma in 2022. UCF is now a member of the Big 12.

Oklahoma (7-0, 4-0 Big 12) trailed 23-17 after three quarters, then regained the lead on Drake Stoops’ 11-yard touchdown reception with 9:16 left. The Sooners extended their lead to eight on Sawchuk’s score.

After the game was dominated by the defenses for much of the first half, the offenses finally awoke just before halftime.

With UCF leading 10-7, Gabriel hit Nic Anderson for a 42-yard touchdown reception to put the Sooners back in front.

The touchdown was Anderson’s second of the day and his team-high eighth of the season.

Moments later, Plumlee scrambled to his left and when Sooners cornerback Woodi Washington came up to try to make a play on him, the UCF quarterback floated a pass over Washington to Baker for an 86-yard touchdown with 1:24 remaining.

Gabriel once again engineered a quick drive, thanks in part to a pair of pass interference calls against the Knights (3-4, 0-4), including one in the closing seconds that wiped out what would have been an interception.

Zach Schmit then hit a 25-yard field goal to end the half with the game tied 17-17.

Schmit had earlier missed two field goals.

Anderson finished with five catches for 105 yards and two scores.

–Field Level Media