The Central Florida Knights won its twenty-third consecutive game and UCF improved to 10-0 after a victory over the #24 Cincinnati Bearcats 38-13.
Currently, UCF holds the FCS record for longest winning streak. The prime-time win over Cincy propelled them into the Top 10 college football poll. UCF improved from #11 to #8 overall during a wild week of college football.
Historic Day for UCF
It was one of the most important Saturdays in the history of the University of Central Florida Knights football program. ESPN recognized its importance by selecting the UCF campus in Orlando, Florida, as the locale of College Game Day. ESPN’s long-time running weekly college football pregame show rotated to a different campus every Saturday.
ESPN’s crew set up in UCF’s Memory Mall. Students and fans lined up the night before for a prime spot in the background of the telecast.
UCF was also awarded a prime-time game against #24 Cincinnati. They were playing for an AAC conference title and a chance to prove to national audience that they were the real deal.
Rodney Dangerfield of College Football
UCF finished last season 13-0, but overlooked by the bigger, money conferences. Everyone at UCF felt completely disrespected for not being considered in the college football playoff picture. They went on to win the Peach Bowl, but felt they deserved a chance to play for the championship. UCF’s undefeated season and snub sparked the playoff expansion debate.
The Knights began this season with a chip on their shoulder. Heading into Saturday’s game against #24 Cincinnati, UCF held a 9-0 record and ranked #11 in the AP Poll. They had the #8 ranked overall offense. Yet, they felt they were shortchanged by the playoff committee once again.
“The theme here is disrespect. Central Florida feels disrespected by the committee,” said ESPN’s Desmond Howard.
“This is the most unique story in college football because it’s in the thrust of continuing to build what it’s going to be,” said UCF head coach Josh Heupel. “Blue-blood programs were built in the ’30s, ’40s and ’50s. We’re right in the midst of what’s going on here and really proud of the way our fans have shown out all year long but certainly today as well.”
The Corso Pick
Lee Corso ends College Game Day every week by putting on the head of one of the teamsí mascot. His selections have become the show’s highlight and his picks either get the crowd fired up, or quickly turn them against him.
Corso ducked out a few minutes early to get dressed as a UCF Knight. The production crew set up a small, secondary stage in the middle of the crowd with Corso hidden behind a black curtain.
“Go Knights,” Corso screamed as the curtain dropped to reveal Corso dressed as the UCF Knight mascot.
The crowd in Orlando exploded. UCF had officially arrived. Not only did ESPN broadcast from their campus, Corso also picked them to beat Cincinnati.
Cincinnati got on the scoreboard first with a fumble return for a touchdown. They missed the extra point and UCF was in the hole 6-0. That would be Cincinnatiís only lead of the game. Five minutes later McKenzie Milton rushed for a touchdown to tie the game. UCF never looked back. Milton threw three touchdowns and 268 yards in the victory.
It wasn’t just a win, but also a referendum on why they should be playing for a national championship. Would the 26-point win be enough to sway the committee?
“It’s the first time most of the people have gotten a chance to see what our university is all about,” said coach Heupel. “The size of it, the energy, the passion from our fan base, what a game-day atmosphere looks like inside of our stadium. This is big-time football. We’ve got great players on the field. I think everybody saw that tonight, and again we’ve got an opportunity to go 1-0 and add another tally to our season, and hopefully people enjoyed what they saw.”