Much of the UCF (0-9, 0-5 AAC) chatter this week has been about the Knights' stellar graduation success rate of 93% overall, and 90% for the football program (both numbers are good for #1 among FBS public schools).
That this has seemingly been more of a focus than the upcoming game should tell us something about the level of enthusiasm for what ought to be a loss against Tulsa (4-4, 1-3 AAC) en route to a winless season.
But hey, the football program is at least successful academically, and that's been a great legacy of the George O'Leary era.
The match-up against Tulsa is the Knights' last road game of the season, so it will be much easier for Knights fans to get to watch the rest of the slog to 0-12 in person. Yaaay.
I kid, I kid. Seriously, we'll all miss this when the season ends and the yearly football drought begins.
Start time: 12 PM EST, Saturday November 7.
Location: Chapman Stadium, Tulsa, OK
Radio: 96.9 FM & 740 AM - Orlando.
Betting Line: Tulsa is a 17 or 17.5 point favorite, depending on where you look. The smart prediction is that Tulsa will cover.
The Series: 5-3. There's history here given that both the Knights and the Golden Hurricane were in Conference USA. UCF and Tulsa played three times for Conference USA Championships, with Tulsa winning two of those championships.
The Golden Hurricane are undefeated against UCF on their home turf, but hey, the Knights won last year in Orlando 31-7.
UCF Outlook: I mean, it's perpetually terrible, right? UCF is coming off two of the worst losses in program in history. The team's problem areas are numerous, and there was never going to be a reasonable chance for interim Head Coach Danny Barrett to solve them.
But - if you're looking for signs of life for the future, there are perhaps a couple to be found. Last week, the Knights finally got something out of the moribund running game. The offensive line, especially on the right side, did a very fine job of run blocking. The Knights totaled 212 yards on the ground against Cincinnati, only the second time the team had exceeded 100 yards rushing. Much of that was attributable to redshirt freshman C.J. Jones who ran for 123 of them and the Knights' sole touchdown of the day.
So keep an eye out to see whether that success can be replicated or improved on against Tulsa. There haven't been many signs of progress to cheer UCF fans, and it would be nice if the performance against Cincinnati was not an aberration.
Tulsa Outlook: The Golden Hurricane have clearly improved this year under head coach Philip Montgomery, who has already doubled their win total from last year. And I tend to think that the Golden Hurricane are a better team on the field than their record and statistical ranks would suggest. Three of Tulsa's losses were to very good teams: remaining AAC unbeaten teams Houston and Memphis, as well as 7-1 Oklahoma.
On Saturday, expect the Tulsa passing attack, led by Keyarris Garret, to tear through the UCF secondary, which just yielded 489 yards through the air and 6 passing TDs to Cincinnati. Garrett has been a huge part of Tulsa's offense. The senior wide receiver ranks fourth nationally for receiving yards (992) and fifth in yards per game (124). And though ultimately it was a losing effort, he played extremely well against Memphis, ringing up an NCAA season high 268 receiving yards and three long touchdown catches. And, worse for UCF fans and the Knights' poor secondary, the rest of the Tulsa receiving corps is solid too. Four different Tulsa wide receivers have had a 100+ yard game so far this season.
Expect a Tulsa victory to bring the Golden Hurricane close to evening up the series.