UCF kicks off inaugural Big 12 season hosting Kent State: 'Nothing like the first game'

The Orlando area avoided the worst of Hurricane Idalia, so it was business as usual for UCF Football, as the Knights prepared for their season opener against Kent State on Thursday.

That means UCF went through an afternoon meeting and an indoor walk-thru ahead of their most anticipated season in school history.

"I don’t care how long you’ve been playing football. When you’re playing the first game that you’ve been waiting a year for, you’re pretty excited about it," quarterback  John Rhys Plumlee said.

The Knights hit the field for the first time as members of the Big 12, as they host non-conference foe Kent State on Thursday.

"There’s nothing like the first game. You learn about your team, especially when you have 18 transfers and over 20 freshmen and everything that goes with it," head coach Gus Malzahn said.

"I’ve kind of learned over the year that the first games are always about execution. What do we do really, really well?" Plumlee said.

UCF wants to kick off the season by making a statement to the college football world.

"We just want to come out on our debut, put a stamp on we’re here to stay, we’re here to play, and we’re here to contend," senior defensive end Josh Celiscar said.

As a head coach, Malzahn has a perfect 12-0 record in home openers. A win on Thursday would extend his record to 13-0.

Kent State tells FOX 35 that their football team departed Ohio and arrived safely in Orlando on Wednesday.