ORLANDO — All season long, while its offense has seen plenty of ups and downs, UCF has been able to count on its defense.

And for good reason.

The Knights are among the best in college football in several defensive metrics, especially the most important one, scoring. UCF ranks 13th in the nation and second in the American Athletic Conference in points allowed per game at 14.6.

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Diving deeper into the numbers, here are five mind-boggling stats that explain the Knights’ defensive dominance near the midpoint of the 2022 season.

26.4% is the conversion rate of the opponents to the third

One of the main reasons the Knights slowed down SMU’s blistering offense and kept the Mustangs on the scoreboard for most of the second half was running money downs.

SMU went 4 of 16 on third downs — 1 of its first 12 — with three fourth down failures in the early stages of the fourth quarter as the Knights scored 31 unanswered points.

October 5, 2022;  Orlando, Florida, USA;  UCF Knights linebacker Jeremiah Jean-Baptiste (11) tackles Southern Methodist Mustangs running back Tre Seagers (4) during the second quarter at FBC Mortgage Stadium.  Mandatory Credit: Mike Watters-USA TODAY Sports

On the year, UCF’s first five opponents have converted just 19 times on 72 third-down chances, good for 10th-best in the FBS. The Knights also made 10 stops in 15 fourth-down situations — the same success rate as Alabama, Clemson, Michigan, Oklahoma and Oregon, among others.

Next week, these indicators may also improve. Temple, the Knights’ Thursday night opponent, has the fifth-worst offense on third down (26.1%) — and a not-much-better conversion success rate of 28.1% on fourth down.