Breaking down UCF’s football schedule

Aug 31., vs. Kent State, 7 p.m., FS1

The buzz: Year 3 of the Gus Malzahn Era kicks off under the lights at the Bounce House on a Thursday night. The Knights will have to be careful and not look ahead to a major road trip the following week.

Sept 9., at Boise State, 7, FS1

The buzz: The last time these teams met, UCF needed to overcome a 21-0 deficit to win 36-31 in Malzahn’s first game coaching the Knights. This time around, UCF will travel across the country as the Broncos aim for revenge.

Sept 16., vs. Villanova, 6:30, Big 12 Now/ESPN+

The buzz: In the final non-conference tuneup before Big 12 action, UCF will serve as FCS Villanova’s annual FBS opponent. These schools last faced each other in 2006 when the Knights won 35-16 at home.

Sept 23., at Kansas State, TBD

The buzz: 13 years ago, UCF fell to the Wildcats 17-13 on the road. Now, the schools face each other as conference-mates. It’s quite the welcome for the Knights — Kansas State won the league title last year.

Sept 30., vs. Baylor, TBD

The buzz: It was a UCFiesta when the Knights upset the Bears in Glendale, Ariz., a decade ago to capture their first BCS/NY6 bowl win. It’s fitting that Baylor is UCF’s first home Big 12 opponent. Commissioner Brett Yormark is set to be in attendance.

Oct 7., at Kansas, TBD

The buzz: Two weeks after facing the Wildcats on the road, UCF will return to the state of Kansas to take on a Jayhawks team that’s no longer considered the Big 12 punching bag under coach Lance Leipold.

Oct 21., at Oklahoma, TBD

The buzz: Perhaps no other Big 12 matchup is as anticipated by UCF fans. The Knights will face former UCF quarterback Dillon Gabriel and offensive coordinator Jeff Lebby in Norman before the Sooners depart for the SEC.

Oct 28., vs. West Virginia, TBD

The buzz: ‘Easy’ wins will be hard to come by in the Big 12, but a home matchup against the Mountaineers could help boost the Knights. West Virginia was voted by the media to finish last in the conference.

Nov 4., at Cincinnati, TBD

The buzz: It’s hard to predict who will become UCF’s new rival in the Big 12 but the Bearcats are likely at the top of the list. The all-time series is knotted up at 4 apiece but Cincinnati could have a bumpy season with new coach Scott Satterfield.

Nov 11., vs. Oklahoma State, TBD

The buzz: Led by Mike Gundy, the Cowboys are one of only three teams in the FBS to post a winning season every year from 2006-22. The Knights will introduce them to their annual Space Game on this weekend.

Nov 18., at Texas Tech, TBD

The buzz: The final road trip is in Lubbock. The matchup will mark the first meeting between the Knights and the Red Raiders, who were voted fourth in the preseason poll.

Nov. 25., vs. Houston, TBD

The buzz: UCF leads the all-time series 7-3 between this pair of past AAC members. Houston coach Dana Holgorsen knows what success looks like in the Big 12 having spent 2011-18 guiding West Virginia.

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