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Courtesy: Florida A&M Sports Information
Rattlers to open with test at 17th-ranked UCF
By: Florida A&M Sports Information  

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. |The Florida A&M University football team will open its 2019 campaign on Thursday night at 17th-ranked Central Florida. Kickoff against the Knights is set for 7:30 p.m. from Spectrum Stadium in Orlando, Fla.


The game will be broadcasted through the CBS Sports Network. The broadcast crew of Rich Waltz, Aaron Taylor and John Schriffen will call all of the action.


Florida A&M comes into Thursday night’s game off a 6-5 season a year ago as the Rattlers are seeking back-to-back winning seasons. FAMU enjoyed a five-game win streak last year, which included victories over North Carolina Central and previously FCS ranked North Carolina A&T State. However, the Rattlers stumbled down the stretch with three straight losses to conclude the season.


Central Florida is a team that comes into the contest ranked inside the FBS at 17th and has only lost one game over the past two years. The Knights, winners of the American Athletic Conference a year ago, are coming off a 40-32 loss on Jan. 1 to 11th-ranked LSU in the PlayStation Fiesta Bowl. Just last week, UCF announced that the starting quarterback for Thursday night’s matchup will be Notre Dame transfer Brandon Wimbush. 


“It’s a very exciting time as college football season kicks off for the 2019 Rattlers,” Florida A&M head coach Willie Simmons said. “We’ve had a great 23 days, at this point, of training camp. Looking forward to opening our season. Obviously, huge task, right out of the gate, taking on a team that’s ranked in the FBS Top 25. A team that hasn’t lost a regular-season game in two years. We have our hands full but, again, a great barometer and test for this football team to see how we stack up against bigger, faster, stronger competition.


“I think it’ll show us if the little things that we preach on a daily basis show up on gameday. That’s what I’m looking forward to seeing: How this team competes, how we handle adversity, because we know we’ll see it being on the road, and how we play as a team. We’ll load the bus with 70 guys who are ready to go and we’ll give them our best shot and let the chips fall as they may. Exciting time. Obviously as football season is back around, we know how much we love football here in the state of Florida and at Florida A&M. Excited to be able to get back on the field and competition.”

About The Game
> This will be just the second meeting between the two schools as Florida A&M leads the series, 1-0
> The only time these two teams played was in 1987, with FAMU earning a 19-14 victory
> The game will be broadcasted live on the CBS Sports Network


Inside the Rankings
> Florida A&M enters the year unranked in the STATS Top 25 and FCS Coaches Poll. However, the Rattlers are ranked second, just behind Alcorn State, in the SBN Black College Football Poll

> Central Florida comes into the contest ranked No. 17 in the Associated Press Preseason Poll and in the USA Today Coaches’ Poll

> The Knights were ranked seventh before the loss to 11th-ranked LSU in the PlayStation Fiesta Bowl last season
About Florida A&M
> The Rattlers ended the 2018 season off three straight losses

> Florida A&M averaged 26.4 points per game and held the opponents to 22.1 points

> FAMU redshirt sophomore Xavier Smith was named to the Black College Football Player of the Year Watch List

> Rattler head coach Willie Simmons is looking to become only the seventh FAMU head coach to have back-to-back winning seasons in their first two years

> Ryan Stanley currently sits in fifth place on the all-time FAMU career passing mark and is chasing Tony Ezell, Oteman Sampson-Delancy, Damien Fleming and Quinn Gray


About Central Florida 
> UCF dropped its first game in nearly two full years with a 40-32 loss in the PlayStation Fiesta Bowl on Jan. 1

> The Knights averaged 43.2 points per game last year, while holding their opponents to 22.7 points

> Central Florida has played in three New Year’s Six Bowl Games (2013, 2017 and 2019)

< The Knights set school records in rushing, while allowing only 19 sacks. In addition, UCF set another school record in 2018, committing just 14 total turnovers

> The UCF defense ranked sixth in the nation last season with 28 turnovers gained
Last Time Against Central Florida
> In their only previous meeting, the Rattlers came out on top, 19-14, in 1987

> Central Florida was still a member of NCAA Division II in 1987 was three seasons away from jumping to NCAA Division I FCS

> During the 1987 season, Florida A&M, under the direction of head coach and former NFL standout Ken Riley, went 5-5-1

> The Rattlers picked up wins over Georgia Southern, Mississippi Valley Stte, Southern, UCF and Bethune-Cookman, but dropped games to Tuskegee, Tennessee State, Alabama State, South Carolina State and Alcorn State. The lone tie came against Central State

> Also in 1987, Central Florida went 9-4 overall, with wins over fellow MEAC school Bethune-Cookman, Savannah State and Liberty, with losses to Eastern Kentucky, Georgia Southern, Troy and FAMU

> During that 1987 season, Andre Williams (passing), Reggie Jones (rushing) and Curtis Greene (receiving) led the team in offensive categories, while Williams paced the team with five touchdowns

Inside The Numbers
> Florida A&M quarterback Ryan Stanley is approaching a major statistically milestone in the FAMU record books. The redshirt senior needs just 1,300 yards this season to become the all-time career passing leader. Stanley enters the season currently in fifth place and will need 550 yards to surpass Tony Ezell for fourth place

> Speaking of Ryan Stanley, during his junior season, the Pembroke Pines, Fla. native went 205 of 342 passing for 2,519 yards and 17 touchdowns

> Punter Chris Faddoul also played a huge role last season as he ranked tops among punters in NCAA Division I – FCS. The Watson Chapel, Fla. native averaged 46.8 yards per punt 

> UCF starting quarterback Brandon Wimbush played in six games during the 2018 season. He was 54 of 102 passing for 719 yards, with six interceptions and four touchdowns. In 2017 as a redshirt sophomore, Wimbush played in 12 games and was 136-of-275 for 1,870 yards, with 16 touchdowns and six interceptions 


Up Next 
After the trip to Orlando, Florida A&M will have not one, but two Saturday’s off to prepare for Fort Valley State. The Rattlers and Wildcats will meet in the Third Annual Jake Gaither Classic on Saturday, Sept. 14. Kickoff for the 2019 home opener is set for 6 p.m. at Bragg Memorial Stadium.


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