The University of Central Florida, originally founded in 1963 as Florida Technological University, is among the largest schools in the United States. UCF does not mean 'University of Central Florida' in the same way that the Buckeyes mean 'Ohio State', Its enrollment of 50 thousand scattered over ten campuses which cover more ground than Rhode Island. The school actually has campuses in seven Central Florida counties, and I thought taking the shuttle from south to north campus was a pain.
The initial mission of UCF was to provide highly-trained personnel to support the Kennedy Space Center, which has a lot to do with their first mascot the Citronaut. It's widely suspected that the Citronaut is the love child of the Otto the Orange (Syracuse Orangemen Mascot) and The Great Gazoo (Flintstones Character).
One of the founding members of the Sunshine state conference UCF remained until 1984 when they joined the now defunct American South Conference and along with other conference members were merged into the Sun Belt in 1991. In 1992 UCF left the Sun belt and joined the Trans-American Athletic Conference it was around this time that they ceased being the 'Knights of Pegasus' and became the 'Golden Knights' to help with retail sales.
They remained in the TAAC for all sports except football until 2005 when they Joined Conference-USA. During their membership in the TAAC their football team advanced to division 1a as an independent, later they became football only member of the MAC.
While UCF has had a good number of successes in its twenty five years of division one history the most impressive part of the program are the recent investments for the future. A 45 thousand seat football arena, new basketball arena, new softball facility, a new track and field complex, and a new athletic village have all been opened in the past three years.
Series History and last Meeting:
The Bulls and Knights were both members of the Mid-American Conference from 2001 to 2005, during that time the teams met on three accusations with UCF winning the first two contest. The final time these teams met UB used three interceptions and 24 unanswered points to turn a close game into a blowout. The Bulls beat the Knights 48-20 for one of their only two conference victories that season.
It was Chris Moore's first start at quarterback after, P.J. Piskorik was suspended indefinitely by then head coach Jim Hofher during the week. He would only complete five of seven passes but managed 195 yards in no small part due to his 86 yard strike to Terrance Breaux.
Steven King rolled off 110 yards on the ground as part of a Bulls rushing attack that would amass 245 yards and five touchdowns.
|Steven King||Chris Moore|
What's Changed for Them:
On offense the personnel is nearly identical to last season, the Knights bring back everyone except Patrick Brown a four year starter on the offensive line. While the players on the field are all the same head coach George O’Leary move last years OC Tim Salem to tight ends coach and replaced him with former Maryland Assistant Charlie Taaffe.
Taaffe is known for his explosive, and diverse offenses, he will be taking over a team that split 1,400 passing yards among three quarterback and 1,300 rushing yards among 10 players (Brynn Harvey lead with 519) so he has his work cut out for him. Taaffe thinks that the situation at UCF is ripe for a big turnaround and promised that the ten returning starters were going to have to work for their job this year.
"My job is simple on some respects. One, the fact that the rest of the offensive staff has all ready been here is going to shorten my learning curve in getting to know the personnel. At the same time, I don't want to go in with any predisposed opinions about players. I want to give everybody a fresh start and be able to evaluate what they do. I'm not a potential guy. I'm a performance guy. I want to give guys an opportunity to start off on a clean slate and evaluate based on what they actually do on the field and in their offseason preparation to find out who the committed guys are." -- Charlie Taaffe
The few successes that UCF had last year were based on their defense, a defense which has been halved by graduation. Gone are Sha’reff Rashad, Joe Burnett, Johnell Neal and Jason Venson who made up the conferences best secondary. The front seven are still going to be solid but if Maynard's arm is as strong as advertised he might have a field day with the UCF defensive backs.
Why to be optimistic:
No matter how Charlie Taaffe feels the experience of his coaching staff will help with a quick adjustment its going to take the UCF players some time to get used to his offense in a game day situation, three weeks enough time. They may be marginally better this year with more experience and a proven coordinator but the UB defense should not have trouble keeping the Knights under three touchdowns.
On offense Maynard will see the most inexperienced secondary that the Bulls face all season and his mobility may buy him enough time against the Knights formidable front seven to exploit that. The move to an option offense this year should really pay off in this game.
Why to be pessimistic:
Above I said that Maynard's mobility may buy him the time he needs, but against this front seven that is by no means a given. If the Bulls offensive line has not come together by this game we are going to get to see if Maynard's instincts are as good as his legs.
The presence up front might also mean that Starks will not be as big a factor in this game as UB needs him to be. UCF is a which, like UB, thrived off of turnovers last season if they can blunt the running game and pressure Maynard the defense will probably be able to make up for any offensive shortcomings with takeaways.
Then there is fact playing a road game in front of nearly fifty thousand people is never easy.
Game Category: (Should win, but don't need or Very important)
This is a game UB should win either way but if UB fails to beat UTEP in week one this game becomes very important, perhaps even critical, to the Bulls season. Firstly going into Temple 0-3 would put even more weight on a game that already has huge implications, secondly with Games against Central and Western Michigan this season starting 0-3 would almost certainly mean the Bulls may drop *at least* five games.
If UB beats UTEP in week one a loss here would be a missed opportunity but should not cripple UB's chances of picking up an at-large bowl bid should they fail to win the East. If UB beats both UTEP and UCF they enter MAC play at least 2-1. Though that's the same mark they started out with last year after beating Temple this would mark the first time in recent memory UB has went into division play above 500.
Buffalo 27 - UCF 17
Buffalo or UCF