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UCF flexes muscles, throttles FIU, 53-14

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The Central Florida Knights were favored to defeat the Florida International Golden Panthers on Saturday night. Few would have predicted the 53-14 rout perpetrated by the Knights.

FIU was playing at home and coming off a loss at Massachusetts where they were in the game until the end. On Saturday, they stayed with the new-look Knights for about 10 minutes, then were buried in an avalanche of points.

UCF led 8-7 with 5:27 left in the first period, but stretched the lead to 32-7 by halftime. They scored the first 21 points of the second half to stretch the margin to 53-7, before the Panthers scored in the fourth quarter against Central Florida backups.

Analysts sometime say statistics show the game was closer than the final score indicates. That was not the case.

The Knights had 26 first downs to 11 for FIU and outgained them 501 total yards to 189. UCF gained 276 yards on the ground.

It is tough to find many positives for the Panthers. Quarterback Alex McGough, who had thrown three interceptions for touchdowns in his first three games, did not throw one on Saturday. He also threw for one of FIU’s two touchdowns.

Five different Knights scored touchdowns led by Dontravious Wilson, who scored three times. With their success on the ground, quarterback McKenzie Milton threw only 14 times, completing eight for 173 yards and a touchdown.

These are two programs going in opposite directions. Florida International fell to 0-4 and has often looked bad doing it.

This is Head Coach Ron Turner’s fourth year and the last time they began the year 0-4 was in 2013, Turner’s first season. They finished 1-11 that year and Turner has some work to do to prevent a similar outcome, or worse, this year.

Central Florida improved to 2-2, far better than last year’s 0-4 start that turned into 0-12. First-year coach Scott Frost has total changed the attitude with the program. This team will be playing in bowls again soon.

The Panthers host Florida Atlantic next Saturday, while the Knights will travel to East Carolina.

Bob Sparks is President of Ramos and Sparks Group, a Tallahassee-based business and political consulting firm. During his career, he has directed media relations and managed events for professional baseball, served as chief spokesperson for the Republican Party of Florida as well as the Florida Department of Environmental Protection and the Attorney General of Florida. After serving as Executive Deputy Chief of Staff for Governor Charlie Crist, he returned to the private sector working with clients including the Republican National Committee and political candidates in Japan. He lives in Tallahassee with his wife, Sue and can be reached at Bob@ramos-sparks.com.

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