When Central Florida coach Scott Frost looks back at his team's comeback win at Connecticut last year, he remembers a stepping stone for his program.
In wet, nasty conditions, the Knights fell behind 13-0, before the weather cleared up and quarterback McKenzie Milton got hot. Milton rallied UCF with a pair of touchdown passes, and the Knights' defense shut out Connecticut in the second half of a program-building conference win.
"That was a big win for us last year," Frost told reporters this week about UCF's 24-16 win over the Huskies.
"I was worried about that one the whole time. It was cold and rainy. In warmups, it just started down-pouring. I remember thinking we couldn't complete a pass on air in warmups. We got behind and miraculously the weather cleared, and the sun came out, and we threw the ball pretty well. That was a good day for our program."
Things are pretty good for Frost and the Knights these days, too, as they prepare to host Connecticut on Saturday in an American Athletic Conference tilt in Orlando, Fla.
No. 18 UCF (8-0, 5-0 AAC) is one of five undefeated teams in the nation. The Knights are 8-0 for the first time in program history and lead the nation in scoring, averaging 48.5 points per game. Last week's seven-point win over SMU was the first game this season in which they didn't win by a double-digit margin.
The Knights are in the driver's seat to represent the Group of Five conferences in a New Year's Day bowl.
Connecticut (3-6, 2-4 AAC) has been inconsistent in coach Randy Edsall's first season back on the sidelines for the Huskies. Edsall spent 11 seasons in his first stint with Connecticut, overseeing the Huskies' transition from the FCS to the FBS. He left for Maryland in 2011, before returning to Connecticut this year.
His first season back has been a challenge.
"It's a process, what we're doing here with this program," Edsall told reporters Sunday.
"All these guys have to understand you just have to keep working. You don't get bigger, faster and stronger by saying you're going to get bigger, faster and stronger. ... The way you do that is by putting the time and effort in, and it takes a lot of hard work.
"We still have things we can accomplish," Edsall added. "Is it going to be easy? No, it's not going to be easy. But nothing in life is easy if it's worthwhile."
Connecticut starting quarterback Bryant Shirreffs has been ruled out for Saturday's game with a concussion. Backup David Pindell will make his second start of the season. Pindell, a junior college transfer, started the season-opener against Holy Cross, but lost his job to Shirreffs and has served as the backup ever since. Pindell completed 19 of 28 passes for 154 yards in the Huskies' 27-20 win over the Crusaders.
"He gets the ball out of his hands really quickly," Connecticut offensive coordinator Rhett Lashlee said of Pindell on Tuesday.
"And he throws a catchable ball. Sometimes he needs to put more on it, and we need to work on deep balls, and he's improved. But he gets the ball out quick and obviously can hurt you with his feet. He's got some dimensions there that we can work with."
Pindell will have his hands full against a Knights defense that came up huge in the fourth quarter of last week's hard-fought win at SMU. UCF got fourth-down stops on SMU's final two possessions and held on for a 31-24 conference road win.
"You never know which challenge is gonna raise its head," Frost said. "But our guys have been resilient and have done a good job answering the bell to any challenge that comes their way."
Milton overcame two first-half interceptions and finished with 412 yards passing with a rushing and passing touchdown. The sophomore has been brilliant this season, completing 70.0 percent of his pass attempts with 20 touchdowns and five interceptions. He has been named a semifinalist for the Davey O'Brien Award, which is awarded to the nation's top quarterback.