Through three games, there is very little one can confidently assert about the 2014 UCF football team. A young quarterback has had to find his way, there has been constant turnover on the offensive line, and the defense has been inconsistent.
These early season narratives are just part of the reason why the Knights' American conference opener at Houston is so intriguing and important. The Thursday night showdown with the Cougars truly charts the path for the rest of the season.
A win and UCF remains a serious contender to repeat in the AAC. Lose at UH and the Knights might find themselves spiraling towards a mediocre seven win season.
Houston is also trying to formulate who they are in the early going. UTSA's opening game dominance was a shock, the close loss to BYU encouraging, and wins against Grambling State and UNLV were ho-hum.
Still, the Cougars passing attack can keep them alive in any situation. It is a dangerous game for a UCF team that is going to get everyone's best shot in the American as defending champs.
Getting a win in this kind of game could be a momentum builder for a home showdown with top 25 BYU. A loss would drop the Knights to 1-3 and send people sailing off the post-Fiesta Bowl bandwagon.
Mentioning the on-field journeys for both teams so far, fails to cover two other headlines that set the backdrop for this game.
Last week, Chris Shelton of The Daily Cougar got star wide receiver Deontay Greenbury to create some bulletin board material.
Greenberry said. "Last year, to me, in my opinion, they weren’t that good. They happened to overcome to come up with the W."— Chris Shelton (@ChrisSheltonTDC) September 26, 2014
A Knights team that returns many starters from that 2013 group and still holds Blake Bortles in high regard certainly will not forget those remarks. Greenbury told Shelton that the Cougars would win going away though.
He added "We don’t really expect this game to be close... We want to really get after these guys from the jump and hit them in the mouth."— Chris Shelton (@ChrisSheltonTDC) September 26, 2014
It remains to be seen if Greenbury's remarks will come back to bite UH. There is also the question heading into this game of whether alleged comments made by George O'Leary will have any effect on UCF.
Monday afternoon news broke of a lawsuit filed by former defensive coordinator Paul Ferraro for wrongful termination. The suit claims O'Leary made discriminatory remarks and created a hostile working environment for Ferraro.
This is still a developing story and hard to predict how it will play going forward. The media can latch ahold of controversy like this and create a firestorm around the team.
However, UCF has come out with a strong message denouncing Ferraro's claims and that gives the program the best chance of having this blow over. It could even be a galvanizing force for the Knights as they head to Houston.
One thing is certain, there are no shortage of storylines for a series that has provided several great games since the two schools matched up in Conference USA.