It isn't the best of times for UCF, but it certainly isn't the worst of times either. In the last two weeks, reality has set in about how bad the Knights loss to UConn was.
Any diehard can read off the list of bad losses in program history. There is no doubt the debacle against the Huskies in cold, rainy Hartford ranks right up there with the rest.
After ECU dropped a game to Temple, the opportunity to stay ahead of the pack in the American was squandered. Any hope to put the UCF resume next to an undefeated Marshall at the end of the year for Access Bowl selection was washed down the drain.
However, despite the negatives, the top stated goal of George O'Leary and his football team remains in play. After the chaos of the AAC regular season through 11 weeks, a four-team logjam atop the conference remains.
The reigning champion Knights are among that pack and can knock the Pirates out of the group on December 4th. With no head to head showdowns against either Memphis or Cincinnati on the schedule, the potential for split champions appears great.
Still, a conference championship is a conference championship any way you slice it. Win out, and another double digit win season would show the program consistency UCF is looking to tout to the nation and other conferences.
That is no easy task considering the matchup in Greenville and a trip to Tampa to take on rival USF still remains. Plus, a challenging bowl opponent could emerge in the climb to ten wins.
Having the hope of quantifiable success still on the table is all that matters though. It is that promise that should help UCF fill the stadium against Tulsa this Friday night, although that message is likely to be lost on the large swath of casual fans that normally help pack the Bright House.
If the Huskies upset win should teach Knights fans anything, it's not to take any opponent for granted. The Golden Hurricane come in at 2-7, but they have several wins over UCF in recent history.
A season always has several crossroads. The Knights stand at one now.
They can take their ball, go home, and barely finish bowl eligible. Or, Justin Holman finds consistency, the defense shakes off one bad showing, and UCF finds a way to repeat on top of the AAC.