ORLANDO, Fla. (AP) — McKenzie Milton threw for 268 yards and accounted for four touchdowns to help No. 11 UCF remain unbeaten and extend the nation’s longest winning streak to 23 games with a 38-13 rout of No. 19 Cincinnati on Saturday night.
The junior from Kapolei, Hawaii, passed for three TDs without an interception and scored on a 3-yard run as the Knights (10-0, 7-0) clinched the American Athletic Conference East Division title and a spot in the league’s championship game.
Milton rebounded from losing a fumble Cincinnati recovered in the end zone for a touchdown on UCF’s first offensive play to complete 13 of 25 passes, including TDs of 17 yards and 42 yards to Adrian Killins and 36 yards to Tre Nixon.
Malik Clements’ goal-line sack and Kimoni Fitz’s fumble recovery gave the Bearcats (9-2, 5-2) the early lead, but Cincinnati didn’t get in the end zone offensively until Tavion Thomas scored on a 1-yard run nearly six minutes into the fourth quarter.
The first sign it might not be Cincinnati’s night came when Cole Smith the missed the extra point after Fitz’s TD.
Even though the Bearcats eventually finished with 379 yards total offense to UCF’s 402, the team’s struggles were compounded when Smith missed a 38-yard field goal and then had 41-yarder blocked and returned 53 yards to set up the first of Milton’s two TD passes to Killins.
The Bearcats also wasted an opportunity to trim a 21-6 deficit when UCF’s Titus Davis sacked Desmond Ridder, forcing a fumble after Cincinnati drove inside the Knights 20 in the final minute of the opening half.
The primetime matchup capped a day in which Orlando became the epicenter of college football, with ESPN’s “College GameDay” broadcasting from the UCF campus for the first time and giving the Knights the type of national exposure they’ve craved for much of their winning streak.
Cincinnati: The Bearcats are back in the national spotlight after only winning four games a year ago in their first season under coach Luke Fickell. They were beaten soundly Saturday night. Still, the future appears bright, considering they have an underclassman-laden roster that includes 35 true freshmen.
UCF: Milton has thrown for at least one touchdown in 23 consecutive games. The Knights have also scored at least 30 points in every game throughout their school- and conference-record winning streak. They’ll go for their second straight undefeated regular season next week against intrastate rival South Florida.
UCF remained one of four unbeaten teams in the Football Bowl Subdivision, along with Alabama, Clemson and Notre Dame, but needed lots of outside help that didn’t materialize Saturday to climb much higher than their current spot at No. 11.
Cincinnati: Home vs. East Carolina on Friday.
UCF: At South Florida on Friday.
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