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3/25/15: The UCF Knights have come a long way in a relatively short time. It was not that long ago that the team was Division II or FCS status. Now, they have won a BCS bowl game, put several stars in the NFL and are annual favorites in the newish American Athletic Conference. Head coach George O'Leary and his staff have certainly put UCF on the map, but there is a yearly challenge to keep that position. They need to figure out who is catching the ball this season, especially since Breshard Perriman is going to the NFL and should be a first or second round pick.
3/11/15: When word got out that UCF head coach George O'Leary was unhappy, not many batted an eye because that could be just about any given day of any given month of any given year. However, this was a new irritant. O'Leary is disappointed that UCF only has one nationally televised, primetime Thursday night game in the 2015 season. Since UCF is not in a Power 5 conference, that exposure is key for recruiting and marketing. UCF is the two-time defending champion of the AAC and believes they should have more primetime games. That one game will be the second to last game of the season against East Carolina.
2/25/15: The UCF Knights won the inaugural American Athletic Conference Championship outright (then went on to stun Baylor in the Fiesta Bowl) in 2013 and shared the title last season. But those were before the AAC Championship Game, which will debut this season. The game will be played at home for one of the two division winners (oh, yeah, the AAC has an East and West Division now and UCF is in the East) on Saturday, December 5. This all came about because Navy stopped being an independent after 134 years of gridiron tradition and joined the conference - making the AAC a 12-member conference.
2/18/15: Almost unnoticed, the UCF Knights have built up a decent reputation for putting quality wide receivers into the NFL. None has had the same fanfare as say Amari Cooper of Alabama or Sammy Watkins of Clemson, but there are some good ones out there. Brandon Marshall of the Chicago Bears is one. Mike Sims-Walker is another. The latest is Breshard Perriman. He did not get the exposure of being on a Power 5 team, but did get some notoriety by catching the winning Hail Mary against East Carolina. Do not be surprised if he sneaks into the first round of the draft in May.
2/11/15: Recruiting for UCF is always a tough proposition. Of course they have to compete with Florida State, Florida and Miami for top talent just within the state of Florida, but also all the other schools that are trying to poach Florida talent. According to Rivals, the Knights finished with the 63rd ranked recruiting class in 2015. But Knights fans know that coaching and development are keys to success. Just look at Blake Bortles. He was a two star recruit at UCF and became the highest drafted quarterback in the NFL last year. And UCF beat out a lot of Power 5 schools such as Kansas, Purdue and Colorado this year.
2/5/15: UCF made a few headlines two weeks ago when they announced that they would be adding a private 'beach club' to their stadium. It will not actually have a beach with sand, but will be designed to give off the impression of being in a tiki bar on the ocean. Now the question is if they will be adding a lazy river. A UCF official made that comment in a radio interview last week with sports writing/talk show host Mike Bianchi. UCF later said he was joking, but listening to the interview, it did not sound like a joke. The beach club itself is a novel idea, and adding a lazy river would be pretty amazing.
1/28/15: Well this is certainly away to help keep UCF in the headlines. The school announced that they would be adding a 10,000 square foot beach club to BrightHouse Networks Stadium. UCF itself is located about 45 minutes away from the beaches on the Atlantic Ocean, but now fans will not have to sacrifice going to a home game for a day at the beach. The beach club will have a sundeck and covered lounge, and will require a membership. Got to hand it to the state of Florida, they know how integrate new ideas. Last year, the Jacksonville Jaguars announced they would be adding swimming pools to their upper deck.
1/21/15: The UCF Knights are not the kind of program that will bring in a top 10 recruiting class. That is pretty much impossible considering a) that they play in the American Athletic Conference and not a Power 5 conference, and b) there is so much competition for Florida talent with the likes of FSU, Miami, UF and every other major program in the country fighting for recruits. So the fact that UCF is continually a ranked program and sends top ranked guys to the NFL is pretty impressive. Once again, look for George O'Leary and crew to get a bevy of two and three star recruits - then turn a few of them into the best in the nation.
1/14/15: It looks like UCF will put another player into the National Football League. Knights wide receiver Breshard Perriman announced that he will enter the NFL Draft and forego his senior season. Perriman may be best known for catching the Hail Mary against East Carolina two months ago that gave UCF a share of the American Athletic Conference title. However, he has played in 39 games in his career with 16 touchdowns, 2,243 yards and a 19.5 yards per catch ratio. As a side note, Perriman's father, Brett Perriman was a second round pick and played in the NFL from 1988-1997 with New Orleans and Detroit.
1/7/14: Who says that Ohio State does not belong in the College Football Playoffs now? The Buckeyes were a controversial choice over TCU and Baylor to be in the playoffs, but simply shocked everyone by knocking off number 1 ranked Alabama in the Sugar Bowl last Thursday. OSU trailed by 15 points at one time during the game, but scored touchdowns in bunches to take the lead in the third quarter, finally earning a 42-35 victory. The win is vindication for the Buckeyes, who have traditionally struggled against SEC teams, and means that they will play for the National Championship on January 12th, in Arlington (Dallas), Texas against the Oregon Ducks.
12/3/14: For years, UCF tried to get USF to play them in football and the Tampa-based Bulls refused, citing that they were superior and could not play down to UCF's lower-tier level. Those days are gone and both are in the American now. There is also no question who has the better program. UCF easily handled the host USF 16-0, never really allowing the Bulls to threaten. If there was a single stat that shows the dominance, it was the net five yards in total rushing that USF managed. UCF is almost finished with the regular season and has an impressive 8-3 record overall and 6-1 in conference play. Depending on how things shake out, they may repeat as AAC champion.
11/19/14: There are probably a lot of shoulda's and woulda's floating around UCF football about now. The Knights took care of Tulsa in convincing fashion last Friday, improving their conference record to 4-1. That leaves them in a three way tie for first place with the Memphis Tigers and the Cincinnati Bearcats. The lone loss was to a terrible UConn team, and may end up haunting the Knights the rest of the season. The three teams, along with Marshall and East Carolina are vying to get into the so-called Access Bowl, the one major bowl spot reserved for "Group of Five" teams. UCF is home again this Saturday to face SMU.
11/12/14: The Knights fell victim to the dreaded trap a couple weeks ago against the University of Connecticut, a team that had not won in conference. The loss itself was the Knights first in AAC play and makes their climb toward repeating as conference champions a bit tougher. However, UCF is still 3-1 in conference play and tied with several teams. Going into their bye week, five teams had one loss and none was undefeated in AAC Play. The Knights had a bye last week and have a great opportunity to move up the standings this week when they host Tulsa on Friday night.
11/5/14: UCF's run for second straight conference title took a hit last Saturday as they were upset on the road by Connecticut. UConn had not won a conference game, and had only one win under their belt this season before surprising the Knights 37-29. As one may expect in an upset like this, turnovers were a big contributor. UCF QB Justin Holman threw four interceptions, and, regardless of the opponent, it is tough to win turning the ball over like that. This is a tough loss, but the Knights can still salvage the season. Another win makes them bowl eligible. They are on a bye this weekend then host Tulsa in a key AAC matchup the following Friday night.
10/29/14: UCF is still a quality football team, probably the second best in the State of Florida (sorry, Miami). But they are not getting the respect this season as they did last year. Their two losses were close games to Penn State and Mizzou, and the team is now 3-0 in conference play after easily dispatching the Temple Owls 34-14. This game was almost over early. The Knights raced out to 17-0 first quarter lead and never looked back. QB Justin Holman had a big day with 326 yards passing and two touchdowns. Time to head north for UCF. The Knights play again this Saturday at UConn.
10/22/14: Well, it was not the blowout that UCF fans were expecting, but in the end, it was a 20-13 win over conference rival Tulane. The Knights certainly did not earn any style points in this game as the offense was largely ineffective. Starting QB Justin Holman only managed 113 yards passing with one touchdown and two interceptions. Nick Patti, coming in relief was not much better with 26 yards on 3-6 attempts. The running game only managed 94 yards on the day, but thankfully the defense kept the Green Wave off of the scoreboard. UCF improved to 4-2 and 2-0 with the win and will host Temple this Saturday.
10/15/14: While East Carolina is getting all the love for being the best Group of Five team, UCF is quietly making their case that they should be considered as well. Playing at home on primetime national television last Thursday, the Knights won an overtime thriller against BYU. UCF was actually down 24-10 in the third quarter before tying it up and forcing the extra period. The win pushed the Knights over 500 for the first time this season and gives the team a good win against a nationally recognized team. UCF is home again this weekend to host Tulane.
10/8/14: At some point, the UCF Knights have to earn some respect. This is a team that only lost once last season (by three points to SEC power house South Carolina) and beat Baylor in the Fiesta Bowl. Yes, they lost to Penn State (in Ireland) and Missouri (on the road), but they continue to dominate the AAC. In one of the Thursday Night Games, they used a suffocating defense to hold off trendy pick Houston, 17-12. This team may not have the star power of last season's squad, but they still continue to play great football and are the conference champs until someone knocks them off. The Knights have another Thursday Night Game this week when they host BYU.
10/1/14: The Knights earned their first win of the season two weeks ago when they demolished Bethune-Cookman in their home opener. That put the team at 1-2 on the season, but the first two losses were to Penn State (as time expired) in Ireland, and on the road to Mizzou (then a top-25 team). The Knights are racking up the frequent flyer miles and are on the road again this week. They have a Thursday night game, on national television, at Houston. It will be their first conference game of the season as they defend their AAC title.
9/24/14: A common theme among the Knights in the week leading up to their home opener against Bethune-Cookman was not to overlook the Wildcats. The talent level of high school football in the state of Florida is legendary, and many UCF players played with and against BCC players - so they know that there certainly is talent on the other sideline. The Knights took care of business and came out with a lopsided win. The win improved the Knights to 1-2 on the season, but the two losses were to Penn State (in Ireland) and Mizzou (at Mizzou). The tougher competition will certainly help UCF as they set out to defend their AAC crown.
9/17/14: The Knights only lost one game last year, and that was a close one to South Carolina. After dropping a game against Missouri, UCF finds itself at 0-2 to start the season. At least they were losses to Power-5 Conference teams. The Knights put up a good fight in the first half, and briefly led 10-7. But Missouri was just too strong and won 38-10. They did limit Maty Mauk to only 144 yards passing on the day, indicating the defense is still a strong point. It gets a bit easier from here. UCF hosts Bethune-Cookman on Saturday before starting conference play against Houston on October 2.
8/28/14: The UCF Knights made the unexpected decision to name redshirt freshman Pete DiNovo as their starting QB for the season opening game against Penn State in Ireland. While this is still in the early stages, there is a chance that the game may be postponed, cancelled or relocated to another site - presumably on another continent. There is an active volcano in Iceland that is now active. An eruption could cause massive smoke cloud that could hinder air travel. A similar eruption a decade ago forced the cancellation of 100,000 flights. This is a rematch of last season's game in Happy Valley, where the Knights stunned Penn State on their way to a Fiesta Bowl victory.
8/21/14: Sometimes the underdog wins. In a somewhat stunning announcement, UCF head coach George O'Leary announced redshirt freshman Pete DiNovo will be the starting QB for the Knights when they open the season in Dublin, Ireland against Penn State. He beat out the expected favorites Justin Holman, Tyler Harris, and senior transfer (from Boise State) Nick Patti. DiNovo has some big shoes to fill. He follows UCF's most successful QB ever in Blake Bortles. Bortles, by the way, is turning head in Jacksonville Jaguars' camp and may unseed starter Chad Henne by the first game of the NFL season instead of sitting on the bench all year.
8/14/14: An interesting story surfaced out of Orlando over last weekend in which UCF head coach George O'Leary is reportedly contemplating resigning and leaving the UCF football program, possibly after the first game of the 2014 season. That game is against Penn State in Ireland in a few weeks. UCF surprised Penn State last season. O'Leary says there is no truth to the report, but that can always be debated. It is a good thing O'Leary stuck around as he reached a professional high last season. UCF is coming off it their best season ever in 2013. Behind QB Blake Bortles and running back Storm Johnson, the Knights lost only one game (and that was to South Carolina by three points). They also went on to win the Fiesta Bowl and Bortles was the third overall pick in the NFL draft by the Jacksonville Jaguars.
8/7/14: University of Central Florida head coach George O'Leary is a gruff, old school kind of coach. While that may ruffle some feathers, he is at least honest with his program. With training camp starting and the team in need of a new QB now that Blake Bortles in the NFL, O'Leary simply said that he will let the media know when he has made a decision and that there is no big secret about who the QB will be. The competition includes sophomore Justin Holman and Boise State transfer Nick Patti, but that does not mean there is not a darkhorse candidate waiting in the wings.
7/31/14: The University of Central Florida claimed the AAC Conference Championship last season with their undefeated conference season (that included a stunning come from behind victory over Louisville on the road). Of course, they also upset Big 12 Champion Baylor in the Fiesta Bowl and earned a top 10 finish. They now have another honor. UCF was awarded the Team Academic Excellence Award as the AAC's top academic program. Additionally, the team's graduation success rate was measured at 83%, or 12% above the national average. It is great validation for UCF, which strives to put out a quality football team coupled with academic success.
7/24/14: The University of Central Florida Knights continue to search for national respect, which tends to be difficult when not playing in a power conference. But head coach George O'Leary and the Knights will have a chance to generate more recognition for their program in their first game of the season - a rematch of last year's Happy Valley showdown against Penn State (which the Knights won). This time the two teams will play in Dublin, Ireland to kick off the season. The game is just over a month away, on August 30. Week 2 only gets harder with a trip to SEC East Champion Missouri.
7/17/14: It is common that when a team from a non-power conference has a great season and wins a big bowl game (like UCF did last season) that they will come down to earth the next season. Especially when the team's star player is gone, like QB Blake Bortles. But UCF may be the exception to the rule. While there will be a new man under center, whoever he is will have some weapons to work with. The Knights are deep at WR such as Breshad Perriman and Rannell Hall, and William Stanback running the ball. It also helps that the entire starting defense is returning - bad news for the rest of the AAC.
7/10/14: If you read the national media reports, then you know that the press does not have the same faith in the UCF Knights as the Knights do themselves. The argument against UCF is that they lost both Blake Bortles and Storm Johnson and will not be able to replace that kind of production. There may be some truth or logic to that, but Bortles was pretty much unknown outside of Orlando heading into last season and Johnson was considered good but not great. But this is a program based on getting overlooked guys with outstanding potential and coaching them up. So UCF should not worry about what the media may say, coach George O'Leary has it all under control.
7/3/14: No one is saying that UCF has the power and prestige of in-state programs like FSU, UF or Miami, but (at least last year) they are the second best program in Florida. Their #10 ranking and Fiesta Bowl win continues to pay dividends. The latest trophy is getting a commit from Neal Nelson, a linebacker from the Orlando area. The three star prospect turned down ACC schools Pitt and Syracuse for the Knights. UCF is building a very respectable program, and getting Florida players is a big part of that (just ask Blake Bortles, who is also from the Orlando area).
6/26/14: UCF may have lost some big names after last season's amazing run to the Fiesta Bowl title, but they should be pretty well stocked to repeat as the champions of the American Athletic Conference. Speaking of the AAC, the conference finally aligned into two divisions, and they did it logically with an East and West division. UCF will be in the East, along with Cincinnati, UConn, East Carolina, USF and Temple. That is good and will ensure a rivalry game with USF every year. The schools are only about 90 miles apart and compete for the same recruits. For years USF refused to play UCF, but now that UCF is the better program, the do not want to for different reasons.
6/19/14: The UCF Knights have landed their second commitment of the 2015 recruiting class. Three star quarterback Bo Schneider informed UCF that he was excited to join the Knights. Even more impressive for UCF is that they plucked Schneider out of talent-rich Texas. The Knights first pledge was also from out of state, as they got a commitment from wide receiver Cameron Stewart from Georgia. UCF often has to compete with UF, FSU and Miami for recruits in Florida, so making inroads into other regions is a big help for the program as they look to build on their top 10 ranking last season.
6/12/14: If the power five conferences (SEC, Big 10, Big 12, Pac 12, and ACC) decide that they want to form their own division, in attempt to circumvent NCAA rules, there seems like there is not much that anyone else can do about it. Enter George O'Leary. O'Leary, head coach of the UCF Knights and a top 10 team in the NCAA rankings, has a loud and resounding voice. O'Leary is likely one of the few people outside of the Power Five that can bring credibility to keeping the current (or modified) structure in tact. At the same time, O'Leary is at the cusp of doing something special at UCF, so maybe he could get an invite to a Division IV league.
6/6/14: UCF spent years trying to prove to the rest of the NCAA that they were a bonafide, top tier football program. They finally got into the Big East Conference, only to see that become a second tier conference known as the American Athletic Conference. The Knights responded by finishing in the top 10 last year and winning the Fiesta Bowl over high powered Baylor. Now the AAC is expanding by adding Navy, so there will likely be two divisions. The smart thing would be to keep UCF and USF in the same division and letting that rivalry develop. It may never be FSU and UF, but can develop into a great rivalry, nonetheless.
5/29/14: This is a quick look at the growth of UCF football over the years. The school did not field a football program until the late 1970's, and it actually took O.J. Simpson (yes, the same one) to speak to potential boosters about helping to fund a team. In 1983, UCF had played four seasons of Division II ball (and not well) when the school decided they wanted to go big time. They hired Lou Saban, OJ's coach for the Bills when he ran for over 2,000 yards. OJ actually helped get the boosters on board and the team grew. Fast forward over 30 years and the Knights are a top 10 program and just supplied the NFL with the #3 pick overall in the draft.
5/22/14: For those that may not remember, UCF head coach George O'Leary was once one of the most coveted head coaches in the country. He led Georgia Tech to a share of the National Championship almost two decades ago and was hired to coach Notre Dame. The Notre Dame job fell through when it was found that his resume misrepresented his credentials. He eventually found his way to UCF and has been there for over a decade. UCF is rewarding him for the Fiesta Bowl win with a contract extension, so congratulations Coach O'Leary, and hope for more success in the future.
5/15/14: It is official - UCF has a new 'highest drafted player' for their program, and it is a good one. QB Blake Bortles was taken third overall by the Jacksonville Jaguars in the NFL draft, indicating that he is the future of that franchise. The only other QB taken in the first round from UCF was Dante Culpepper, and he had some great years with the Minnesota Vikings. Bortles, like Culpepper, is a Florida boy, having grown up and played college in the Orlando area. He now has to move two hours down the road to Jacksonville to start his pro career.
5/8/14: Congratulations goes out to Tyson Summers of the University of Central Florida. Last week, head coach George O'Leary removed the 'interim' tag from Summers title and made him the permanent defensive coordinator. Summers will also continue to be the linebackers coach for the Knights. UCF, of course, is coming off their best season in their history, going 13-1, winning the AAC Championship as well as the Fiesta Bowl against Baylor. The Knights beat Penn State in College Station last year and will face the Nittany Lions once again in their season opener in Ireland in September.
5/1/14: The UCF Knights will have a tough time replacing the best player their program has ever known in QB Blake Bortles. He could very well go first in the NFL draft next week. So who is his replacement and will have to fill the big shoes of the only UCF QB to win a BCS bowl game. That has not been determined yet, but the NCAA did rule that Nick Patti (formerly of Boise State) will be eligible for the 2014 season, and he will not have to wait out a year to play. The NCAA gave Patti an exemption for hardship. Patti is from Florida and gives head coach George O'Leary another option going into the new season.
4/24/14: For those that remember, then USC head coach Pete Carroll went on a rant several years ago when his prize QB, Mark Sanchez, decided to forego his senior season and go to the NFL. You will not find UCF head coach George O'Leary going off the deep end like that after losing Blake Bortles to the NFL. O'Leary actually said that Bortles made the right decision in coming out. He noted that many juniors should not leave early. O'Leary claims they 'tested the waters' with the NFL advisory committee and that the entire process was handled correctly. Next up for UCF is finding the next Blake Bortles.
4/17/14: Heading into the annual spring game, the focus was expected to be on the quarterback competition to see who would replace Blake Bortles as the field general for the Knights next season. The Knights averaged 35 points and 441 yards per game last season under Bortles, and it looks like the new guys have some catching up to do. Collectively, sophomore Justin Holman and freshmen Pete DiNovo and Tyler Harris went 33 of 62 for 320 yards, one TD and two interceptions. The bright spot on the day was a standout performance by running back William Stanback, who had 108 yards and a TD on just five carries.
4/10/14: With the NFL Draft less than a month away, the speculation on who will go where is nearing full steam. When the draft process started, three quarterbacks were at the top of the charts: Texas A&M's Johnny Manziel, Louisville's Teddy Bridgewater, and UCF's Blake Bortles. Bortles has gained momentum while Bridgewater's stock seems to have fallen after a lackluster pro-day. Bortles is the most hyped QB from UCF since Dante Culpepper, and could be the school's first ever number one pick overall. Bortles has the size that coaches want and can succeed in the NFL, particularly if he is given the chance to properly develop.
4/3/14: UCF is coming off its most successful season ever. They went undefeated in AAC conference play, won the AAC Championship, lost only one game all season (a thriller to SEC powerhouse South Carolina), went to a BCS Game (Fiesta Bowl), and beat high-powered Baylor for the Fiesta Bowl title. Now, their star QB may be the first pick in the NFL draft, so naturally, the question is who replaces him. Word came out that Nick Patti transferred from Boise State to UCF. He is not an option this season, though, as he must sit out a year according to NCAA rules.
3/27/14: It is normally very tough to follow a legend, and it is rare that it is done successfully. There are not too many Aaron Rodgers (following Brett Favre) or Steve Youngs (following Joe Montana). Most are usually footnotes in history. But that is the challenge for Justin Holman and Pete DiNovo. Both young men are competing for the starting QB job which was opened up when Blake Bortles left for the NFL. Bortles may well be the first overall pick in the NFL draft. The Knights won the Fiesta Bowl over Baylor last season behind Bortles, and that is certainly a tough act to follow.
3/20/14: By any measure, the UCF football program had a successful 2013 season. To recap: The team went 12-1 in regular season play. They were undefeated in the American Athletic Conference and won the Conference championship. Their only loss was to SEC powerhouse South Carolina, and they led that game at halftime. They earned a spot in a BCS Bowl Game (Fiesta Bowl) in which they embarrassed high-flying Baylor. QB Blake Bortles could even be the number one pick overall in the NFL draft. It will be tough to replicate this success, but head coach George O'Leary has worked wonders with the program and they continue to develop outstanding players that other schools passed on.
3/13/14: Believe it or not, but UCF has had a number of really good football players (NFL players, that is) go through their program. Most notably, of course, is Dante Culpepper, who was a terrific QB for the Minnesota Vikings in the late 1990's and early aughts. But there has also been Brandon Marshall, Ashanti Samuel, and Matt Prater. Blake Bortles may be the first former Knight to go number one overall in the NFL draft, and the best publicity he got was not winning the Fiesta Bowl against Baylor, but simply getting to a BCS game where everyone could see UCF and he became a big storyline.
3/6/14: Former Knights QB Blake Bortles made the rounds at the Combine last week, and he was the only top prospect to throw during the cattle call. While he did nothing to elevate his status among other QB candidates, he did not hurt himself either. What was more interesting is that teams asked him if they invited him in for a workout and they went to dinner, would his girlfriend join them. It seems teams may be more interested in her than him at this point. Not to make light of the situation, but that may be the only thing going for the Dolphins these days, with QB Ryan Tannehill being in a similar position.
2/27/14: Just like fellow QBs Teddy Bridgewater and Johnny Manziel, and defensive lineman Jadeveon Clowny, former UCF QB Blake Bortles thinks he should be the number one pick in the May draft. Bortles has the physical attributes covetted by the NFL for a franchise QB - he is big and smart and plays well under pressure. He is not as refined or well-known as Bridgewater or Manziel, but freely admits he needs quality coaching to develop. Houston would be a great spot for any QB because they have a very good team and simply need a QB to manage the game in order to be successful.
2/20/14: Blake Bortles was a lowly recruited prospect in high school. In fact, only two programs - UCF and Colorado State, offered him a scholarship to play QB. Other programs liked his athleticism but wanted to move him to a different position such as tight end. Bortles is getting the last laugh, as he may be the number one pick overall in the May draft. He has left Orlando and is now in San Diego preparing for the draft. His tutor is former NFL'er Jordan Palmer - the brother of USC legend and Cardinals QB Carson Palmer. Bortles is not the most NFL-ready QB available, but has the build and poise that could make him the best available in the long-term.
2/13/14: Recruiting is the lifeblood of college football. It is no secret that UCF has been the number four or five team in the state for a number of years, and that is understandable considering they have to compete with FSU, UF, Miami, and USF. However, the Knights have done a great job of identifying talent that is off the radar in the recent past, and their coaching has developed the talent to win a BCS game against Baylor. This year, they were even able to flip an Alabama commitment. The point is that UCF is getting stronger. The Fiesta Bowl win helped a bit this year in recruiting, and it will help even more next year.
2/6/14: UCF made their first BCS Bowl appearance this year, and even won by defeating Baylor. Since then, star QB Blake Bortles has declared for the NFL draft, and he should be one of the top three quarterbacks selected - possibly going number one overall. It was not that long ago that Bortles was a lowly regarded recruit. He even had to beat out incumbent starter Jeff Godfrey for the starting job. His moving forward to the NFL means there will be a new QB for the Knights next season, and that may be Nick Patti. Patti is an Orlando native who spent the last couple years at Boise State. With Chris Peterson leaving for Washington, Patti is transferring to UCF.
1/30/14: UCF may be the most under-appreciated team in all of college football. To start, the school is just 50 years old (a juvenile by many standards). Secondly, they spent the first 15 years or so playing in the minor league of college football. An interesting aside, O.J. Simpson once trumped for UCF football support in the late 70's/early 80's. That being said, they graduated from Conference USA to the Big East to the AAC and won the Fiesta Bowl a few weeks ago. Alums include Dante Culpepper and Asanti Samuel and Brandon Marshall. It is also the second largest school in the nation by population. Make no mistake, UCF is on the rise and may one day rival Florida and Florida State.
1/23/14: The city of Orlando and the University of Central Florida are still celebrating the UCF Knights upset victory over the Baylor Bears in the Fiesta Bowl. Orlando is a great sports city for transients, but does not have much in the way of a local team - so this is a nice reward for them. The Knights football team was honored with a Walt Disney World parade last week so everyone could enjoy. The party is over now, and head coach George O'Leary and staff are already working on next season. The first order of business, presumably, is who will replace Blake Bortles at QB.
1/16/14: The Knights are still rejoicing their Fiesta Bowl win, and rightfully so. They came in to Phoenix and shocked the world when they beat Baylor. But the next season starts now, and there is no automatic qualification for a top tier bowl game by winning the AAC Conference in 2014. They will also have to do it without two major offensive stars in Blake Bortles and Storm Johnson. Bortles is rocketing up the draft boards across the NFL. He has better size and a better arm than both Teddy Bridgewater and Johnny Manziel. He does not have the fanfare, but may well be the best of the bunch in the NFL.
1/9/14: Congratulations go out to the UCF Knights for their stunning upset of the Baylor Bears in the Fiesta Bowl last week. It was the first BCS game for either team and the Bears were heavy favorites (over two touchdowns) prior to kickoff. Blake Bortles put on a show in perhaps his final game at UCF. Bortles' name is rocketing up the mock draft boards and several draft experts have him in their top three with Teddy Bridgewater (Louisville) and Johnny Manziel (Texas A&M). Its a good thing that UCF took advantage of their BCS game this season, because the AAC will not be an automatic qualifier next season.
1/1/14: Today is the day that the UCF Knights have been looking forward to. The Knights hired George O'Leary as head coach a decade ago to bring the team to national prominence, and he has. They have graduated from Conference USA to the AAC (formerly the Big East). They won the conference and are now playing on the big stage. The Knights are the biggest underdog of any BCS Bowl team, and many experts are telling them that they should just be happy to be in the Fiesta Bowl. That is not good enough for this team, and there is always the chance that they upset Baylor.
12/26/13: The UCF Knights are preparing for their first BCS Bowl Game - the Fiesta Bowl against the Baylor Bears on January 1 in Glendale, Arizona. The Knights should be proud to earn their way into a BCS game as they had an outstanding season with the sole loss being to South Carolina by three points. UCF has plenty of tickets left to sell. They need to sell about 13,500 of their 17,000 ticket allotment to break even on the game. At last check, they were at about 5,000. Phoenix is not an easy trip from Orlando, but expect the Knights to give the Bears all they can handle.
12/19/13: The big question coming out of Central Florida this week is if star quarterback Blake Bortles will declare for the NFL draft and forego his senior season. Bortles has been outstanding for the past two years and the Knights are in the Fiesta Bowl (their first BCS Bowl Game) due in large part to his play. Some high profile QBs have already opted to stay in school for another season including Marcus Mariota of Oregon, and that may make Bortles an even higher draft pick than originally expected. His decision is not expected until after the Fiesta Bowl.
12/12/13: UCF did not need to win their final game of the season - a road match against SMU - in order to win the AAC title and secure a BCS bid. Louisville lost to Cincinnati a few days prior, ensuring UCF's top ranked position. But the Knights did win in snowy and icy weather, rallying for a 17-13 win. Blake Bortles should have solidified his place as a top QB prospect in the win, should he choose to declare for the NFL draft. UCF will face the Baylor Bears in the Fiesta Bowl, which will be their first ever BCS Bowl Game.
12/5/13: UCF took another step towards getting into their first BCS bowl game ever by overcoming their own mistakes and beating rival South Florida 23-20. The Knights had been 0-4 lifetime against the Bulls and this looked like an other hard loss. The Bulls have been terrible all year with only two wins. However, UCF seemed to get too fancy too early, and turned the ball over five times. They had to overcome those missteps late to pull out the win. If UCF beats Southern Methodist University next weekend then they will get an automatic bid to a BCS game - likely the Sugar Bowl.
11/28/13: Just five days after surviving a big scare at lowly Temple, the Knights had a big game against Rutgers on Thursday night - on national television no less. UCF leads the AAC and can get themselves into a BCS bowl game by winning the conference. They already have beaten favorite Louisville and Houston, and may have cemented their status by destroying Rutgers 41-17. UCF more than doubled Rutgers' offensive production. QB Blake Bortles was 21-20 for 335 yards and a TD on the night. That is a name to remember, by the way, as he should be one of the first QBs drafted if he decides to go pro.
11/21/13: The University of Central Florida Knights survived a scare from woeful Temple to keep their BCS Bowl Game hopes alive. The Knights are ranked in the top 15 in the country, but had to score 10 late points to remain at the top of the AAC. UCF may have had the play of the year with a one-handed Hail Mary catch in the end zone late in the fourth quarter to save their season. The Knights still have rival USF to play as well as the AAC Championship Game, but if they can survive those outings, then they will be in a BCS Bowl Game (likely the Orange Bowl or Sugar Bowl) for the first time in their existence. It will also be the only time the AAC will receive an automatic bid to a BCS Game, so there is a little added incentive this time around.