Photo: Megan Scavo

The ESPN College GameDay hosts covered the University of Central Florida for the first time at Spectrum Stadium and witnessed the Knights’ best performance all season – all against a ranked opponent.

One of the UCF’s biggest critics – Kirk Herbstreit – went on air mid-season to highlight other, more “deserving” G5 teams in a widely circulated hot take, but later changed his mind once seeing the team in action against a tougher opponent.

Cincinnati grazed top-25 status, while UCF and USF also made the list, but lost to Temple October 20 and fell out of the rankings. A 42-0 shutout against Navy vaulted them to No. 19, only eight spots below UCF. The Black and Gold beat Navy at home by only 11 points the week after Cincinnati, a major talking point for the Ohio team’s sympathetic.

On primetime television, defensive coordinator Randy Shannon answered with a complete shutdown of the Bearcats’ offense for more than three quarters with Heupel and McKenzie Milton making an impressive march down the field six times to score.

At the beginning of the game (sent in a tweet following the game), Herbstreit took out his phone and panned around Spectrum Stadium while 47,000 fans brought the bounce house to life. The ESPN host said that he’d been blown away by UCF’s program and game atmosphere as the Knights made a dominating performance at home. Herbstreit went far enough to rank the 23-0 team No. 7 in the country while describing UCF as “FAST & REAL,” behind Georgia and Washington State.

The American Athletic Conference East Division was claimed by UCF Saturday night. As the best-performing team in the conference, the AAC Championship will return to Orlando December 1 at 3:30 p.m. on ABC against the winner of the West Division game.

Check out Knight News’ College GameDay Coverage:

The Best Signs of College GameDay on UCF’s Memory Mall

VIDEO: Gameday Crew SAYS UCF Defense is the key to victory