While many say go big or go home, it seems as if The University of Central Florida’s Knights football team has been able to manage both. Bringing in a huge win last week against Penn State at Penn State, UCF prepares now to literally tackle another Top 25 team. The Knights had a bye week, allowing coach George O’Leary’s team 14 days to prepare and build up momentum for the anticipated game this weekend against the No. 12 ranked South Carolina Gamecocks on September 28, airing nationally on ABC at the Bright House Network Stadium.
The 1966 Heisman Trophy winner, Steve Spurrier, now coaches the USC Gamecocks, leading off the season with a 2-1 record and the Gamecocks ready for action. With Spurrier leading an undoubtedly elite offensively driven team, can the Knights stop his “fun & gun offense” this coming Saturday?
While this is the first time UCF has started a season 3-0 since 1988, UCF’s football team is heating up, and they in no way intend on settling for anything less than a major upset.
In the 34-31 win against the Big Ten’s Nittany Lions, UCF’s quarterback, Blake Bortles completed a four-yard touchdown pass to Storm Johnson, completed 20 of 27 passes for 288-yards and three-touchdowns, earning him player of the week and brewing up stories of his team’s rise to the top in the American Athletic Conference. Can an appearance in the Top 25 nationally be around the corner?
Each team has plenty of offensive and defensive talent. Both USC and UCF are packed with top players ready to show off their talent this coming Saturday. USC, getting ready for the game ahead, have injured players returning, including Cedrick Cooper and Cody Gibson, who are back up to speed and ready to take on their roles this weekend. And for UCF, each day they practice, each day they are preparing, and each day of mental preparation, is looking forward to the sold out showdown game this weekend. And while the Knights football program has been coming together so much stronger over these past couple of years, there are a couple of key players USC needs to watch out for if they plan on giving the Knights any run for their money.
The UCF offensive line dominated PSU’s defensive front two weeks ago, giving up no sacks, and opening up huge holes for the Knights’ run game. And it doesn’t stop there. Storm Johnson rushed for a career-high 117 yards, including a 58-yard touchdown run, and J.J. Worton, wide receiver for the Knights, has received for 175 yards so far this season. Rannell Hall and Jeff Godfrey, both wide receivers, have amassed nearly 350 receiving yards so far this season. Tackle Torrain Wilson will be returning from a late game injury against Akron to help lead an O line that has protected Bortles extremely well this season, and they will need it against the NCAA’s most feared player in USC’s Jadeveon Clowney.
George O’Leary, preparing his team for the SEC Gamecocks this weekend, told ESPN: “Right now, with the stage of the program and where we’re at, we can build on a win like this,” and boy can they. Beating Penn State in Happy Valley, UCF returns home with even more drive and momentum than before and gives the Knights a great chance while playing at their home stadium this weekend. A win over Spurrier’s Gamecocks gives UCF an opportunity to gain national prominence and should open a lot of eyes around the country. A season with so much promise will also lead to recruiting the best players and maybe one day playing for the National Championship.
Over the past year, UCF has improved dramatically: from the three interceptions Bortles threw against 104,000 fans at Ohio State last year, to his near flawless performance in front of 94,000 at Happy Valley, Bortles has gained the poise to take on anyone.