Amidst a whirlwind of penalties and a potential postseason ban, the UCF Knights found themselves competing for the right to host the Conference USA Championship game in Tulsa, Oklahoma against the Tulsa Golden Hurricanes.
UCF, despite a hard fought battle, was defeated 23-21, a score that was not indicative to the pace of the game. Tulsa was able to dominate the line of scrimmage on both sides of the ball resulting in their victory.
Both teams entered the contest 8-2 (6-0) C-USA clearly separating themselves from the rest of the pack with the Knights looking to avenge a loss in Orlando last season.
A usually effective rushing attack by the Knights was limited to 66 yards off 33 carries opposed to Tulsa who rushed for 201 yards led by Trey Watts averaging over seven yards a carry.
Tulsa also attempted 78 plays opposed to UCF’s 65 which ended up making a huge difference allowing the Golden Hurricanes to net an early advantage both on the scoreboard and in momentum.
Despite being out gained by over 200 yards, the Knights found themselves within two points after a blocked field goal attempt by Tulsa.
The Knights, without any timeouts remaining, would be in four down territory deep in their own side of the field. After a 1-yard run, Blake Bortles would proceed to be sacked on second and third down forcing UCF into a fourth and long.
Tulsa dropped eight leaving Bortles with no where to throw and the sub sequential turnover on downs.
By grinding out one first down, Tulsa would seal the game and the Knights chances of hosting a championship game.
By being dominated on the line of scrimmage, and never having a comfortable pocket to throw in, UCF was dominated in a way it haden’t been all season. The Knights kept themselves in the game by forcing two turnovers including a 76 yard interception return for a touchdown by A.J. Bouye and did not turn over the ball themselves.
UCF returns to action next week against UAB at home for the regular season finale before most likely returning to Tulsa for the C-USA Championship game.