The issue of whether the UCF Knights have a good resume looks increasingly likely to be significant this year. Now ranked #21/#22 in the Coaches Poll and the AP Poll (respectively), UCF is the third highest ranked team not in a power conference. Ahead of the Knights are the USF Bulls (#15/#18) and the San Diego State Aztecs (#18/#19).
The question of which non-power conference team plays in a New Year’s Six bowl is determined by the highest rank among G5 conference champions. While those rankings don’t start quite yet, it’s reasonable enough to assume the rank order would at least initially approximate the Coach/AP polls as far as UCF, SDSU, and USF are concerned. UCF and USF will have the opportunity to settle things on the field. Between the winner of the War on I-4 and SDSU, strength of schedule may matter a great deal.
(This team is taking things one game at a time, and treating their record as 0-0 each week. Doesn’t mean we have to).
The Knights’ past and future opponents, in schedule order:
FIU Panthers (3-2 Overall, 2-1 Conference USA)
Lost 37-17 to a Middle Tennessee team that was depleted on defense. The loss knocks the Panthers out of first place in Conference USA’s East division. But our Middle Tennessee writer describes them as a “very solid” Conference USA team, so the Panthers have that going for them.
Maryland Terrapins (3-2 Overall, 1-1 Big Ten)
Suffered a devastating 62-14 blowout at the hands of #10 Ohio State. Quarterback Max Bortenschlager (who played most of the game against UCF) went 3-of-12 for 16 yards, was sacked four times, and lost two fumbles. He left the game following a hit to his head and was replaced by Caleb Henderson, now the Terps’ fourth quarterback in five games.
Root for Maryland to get a bounceback win this week against Northwestern, it’s one of the more winnable games remaining on their schedule.
Memphis Tigers (4-1 Overall, 1-1 AAC)
Riley Ferguson’s stat line against UCF (in for the entire game): 27-of-49, 321 yards, 1 TD, 3 Int.
Riley Ferguson’s stat line against UConn (not in for the entire game): 34-of-48, 431 yards, 7 TDs, 0 Int.
Memphis now plays Navy in a game UCF fans should watch. We play the Midshipmen in two weeks, and they’re the toughest remaining opponent not named USF.
Cincinnati Bearcats (2-4 Overall, 0-2 AAC)
I said I was done underestimating this Knights team, so I predicted a 24 point win.
It was a 28 point win. In only three quarters of play. This is tied for the Knights’ smallest margin of victory so far this season.
ECU Pirates (1-5 Overall, 1-2 AAC)
Expect an easy Homecoming game this week, and a stellar debut for the Knights’ space-themed uniforms.
Navy Midshipmen (5-0 Overall, 3-0 AAC)
Beat Air Force 48-45 thanks to a touchdown pass by Zach Abey with a mere 15 seconds left on the clock. The Midshipmen made a lot of mistakes along the way, including blowing a 21 point second half lead.
This was a game with a lot of offense – Navy rolled up 557 yards while Air Force ripped through the Midshipmen for 621 yards.
While a narrow victory over a one win Air Force team isn’t exactly impressive, Navy remains undefeated, dangerous, and is now ranked at #25/#24.
Austin Peay Governors (3-3 Overall, 2-1 Ohio Valley Conference)
The Governors suffered their first loss to a non-FBS opponent so far this season. Jacksonville State beat them 34-14. Austin Peay has now lost the last eleven games in that series.
SMU Mustangs (4-2 Overall, 1-1 AAC)
Lost to Houston, 35-22. The Mustangs still had 544 yards of total offense, but they failed to capitalize on their opportunities. SMU might benefiting from an increased focused on the running game. The Mustangs ran the ball 26 times, in contrast to 59 passes.
UConn Huskies (1-4 Overall, 0-3 AAC)
The offense was able to keep the Huskies hanging with Memphis for a bit this week. But this team is just awful. It was UConn’s worst defensive performance in program history.
Hockey season started though.
Temple Owls (3-3 Overall, 1-2 AAC)
With a win over ECU (in which Temple scored 24 points unanswered), Temple is back to .500. The Owls Play UConn on Saturday, and will likely get to a winning record after that game.
#15/#18 USF Bulls (5-0 Overall, 2-0 AAC)
 I have long been confident that the Bulls, with their weak schedule, would be undefeated for the War on I-4. While UCF has to overcome good Navy and SMU teams, I’m predicting UCF will likewise be undefeated at that time.