To look at the most recent Associated Press ranking and see the University of Central Florida ranking in the top 17, you might be asking yourself if this was in fact an April Fool’s joke.
It’s no joke. The Knights are pretty good, and yes, they are in the hunt for a BCS bowl bid if the can continue to keep pace with the other teams in the hunt for such prestige.
The program George O’Leary and his staff have put together has moved beyond the possibilities of this writer, as I lived in Orlando for some time and have seen the success from the fruits of O’Leary and the school’s labor.
Some might even argue this is the second best program in the state – behind the Seminoles of Florida State. And if you watch some of the hightlight reels from the Knights game past week, with J.J. Worton catching passes from Blake Bortles, you could see how this offense might be one notch below on the excitement scale.
According to USAToday.com, “There wasn't anything thrilling about Rutgers' matchup with Cincinnati last weekend. The Scarlet Knights fell into a deep hole early and never recovered as they were routed, 52-17.”
This was the third loss in the last four games for the Scarlet Knights, who a record of 2-3 in league play and just 5-4 overall. Rutgers still has three games left, including this matchup, to push itself to bowl eligibility but the ceiling isn't any higher for the rest of the campaign.
Can the Knights stay on course and celebrate the holidays with a BCS Bowl Game? Here are three things to know about this contest.
Rutgers has fallen on hard times
Greg Schiano wasn’t always the obstinent men he is now. I college he was coaching up the Scarlet Knights into bowl contenders. Now, the job rests on the shoulders of Kyle Flood, who has seen his team fall from the ranks of bowl eligible, to the ranks of possibly bowl worthy. Rutgers has to win their last three games to have a shot at that.
"If you have a good week of practice, it doesn't guarantee you you're going to have a good game," Rutgers head coach Kyle Flood said following the loss to Cincinnati. "But what it does guarantee is you're going to move in the right direction eventually. Unfortunately that gets lost when you have a score like we did today."
The offense is the real deal
Blake Bortles is lighting it up in the Land of Mickey. And the Knights are proving they have one of the most explosive offenses in the country. Bortles, Worton and receiver Jeff Godfrey are proving that the receivers are the key to the offense.
In the USAToday story, it talks about the consistency of the unit that will be active on Thursday night.
The win over Temple, UCF showed just how explosive it can be offensively, racking up 657 yards of total offense. After the performance against Temple (a win) the Knights are still just fourth in the league in total offense (455.3 ypg), but that has been more than enough production.
Worton (31 receptions, 500 yards, seven TDs) became the third member of the team to reach the 500-yard plateau for the year with his efforts against Temple. Worton didn't just wait until the end of the game to make plays as he finished with 10 catches for a career-high 179 yards and three scores. Worton has had three 100-yard showings this year.
UCF can also run the ball
Storm Johnson is the leading rusher for the Knights with 841 yards and nine touchdowns on 156 carries. He rushed for 122 yards against Temple but he often gets overshadowed by the passing game. Johnson has rushed for 100 yards in back-to-back games though and four contests overall this year. William Stanback (341 yards, five TDs) also gets a good deal of work.