What's Next For UCF

Central Florida v Pittsburgh

37...The total number of penalties for UCF in their last two games. The 19 in the ECU game didn't hurt UCF, who still rolled to a 51-28 win. But the 18 against Tulsa played a major role in the 34-26 loss. The Knights had four consecutive false starts to start the game against the Pirates but still got a first down and touchdown on that drive. But UCF had 10 false starts against the Golden Hurricane and found themselves in holes they could not dig out of.

False starts were not the only mistakes that cost UCF a 3-0 start. There was a long snapper who was involved in a tackle on a punt where the returner's helmet came off during the play. The snapper, in front of a ref, picked up and threw the helmet which cost 15 yards. The short field set Tulsa up for a quick touchdown. There were multiple times UCF defensive linemen lined up offside. 

Then the injuries mounted. UCF lost its top three running backs in Otis Anderson, Greg McCrae and Bentavious Thompson to injuries and were left with a true and redshirt freshmen to pick up blitzes and make plays. On defense, the Knights lost both safeties and found themselves playing numerous freshmen in a secondary that struggled in the second half. 

But few in college football care about penalties and injuries to UCF. Many revel in their loss and celebrate their drop in the polls. You see, UCF has built an image and attitude that their fan base loves but many in the media and opposing fans can't stand. And that has been the beauty of the UCF story in recent years.

Now what? Where does UCF go from here in the already bizarre season that is 2020.

The Knights no longer control their destiny to a major bowl and talk of being a playoff buster has been put to bed. To reach a New Year's Six Bowl, UCF needs to win its remaining six games. That will not be easy with a road game at Memphis next week and games ahead against Cincinnati, Houston and everyone else who would love to take down the Knights. 

Should UCF win out they need to hope that is good enough to make the AAC Championship game, likely on the road. If they can win that game they would be 9-1 and would need to be ranked higher than conference champs from the Sun Belt, CUSA, Mountain West and MAC. That is the path back to a major bowl.

Doable? Sure. Challenging? Yes. The Knights need to get healthy, cut down on penalties and find its mojo again. Nothing this season is easy and a bye week gives the Knights a chance to get some players healthy and re-evaluate areas that need attention. 

With expectations high, the Tulsa loss is deflating in many ways. But a season is not lost. It's just in a spot that can go two ways. One allows you to reach one of the team's goals. The other is only fun for the critics who enjoy UCF struggles...

Florida quarterback Kyle Trask may not be the first pick in the 2021 NFL Draft. But Trask is Joe Burrow like in someone that has moved from out of the spotlight to one of the best quarterbacks in the country. Trask looks so comfortable in Dan Mullen's system and has the best tight end in Kyle Pitts making plays. He has become an NFL prospect and has enough major games that the draft profile may put Trask in a position to be a worthy selection in the upper rounds...

Jordan Travis sat and waited. The transfer from Louisville watched new coach Mike Norvell stick with James Blackmon at quarterback. Then watched as Tate Rodemaker get his chance. But Travis made the most of his opportunity when the Seminoles needed him the most. He engineered a comeback for FSU in a must win game against Jacksonville State. He threw for 210 and a touchdown and ran for another. Ask Kyle Trask about waiting for your chance. Now Travis gets a shot at Notre Dame this week. Worth noting, Jordan's brother, Devon, played baseball at FSU and now is with the Blue Jays...

Weekend notes: Alabama looked bored in blowing out Texas A&M and Jimbo Fisher looks lost in explaining why his team struggles. It's no shame losing to Alabama and the Aggies held their own for a quarter and a half. But in the end, Fisher's team appears to be similar to Kevin Sumlin's teams and whether it's fair or not, the $7.5M a year that the school pays Fisher will always be a story as long as his team is middle of the pack in the SEC. Oh, Florida this week. But I actually think this is a bad spot for the Gators. Not saying Florida won't or can't win. But I think Fisher knows how big this game is...I said Mike Leach is a character that is easy to follow and get amused by at times. After Mississippi State went to Baton Rouge and took down LSU, everyone said Leach was shaking up the conference. I said to hold the noise a little. Leach has had quarterbacks throw for 500 or 600 yards before and that same team will likely lose a game shortly after such a performance. That was the case this past Saturday when Arkansas snapped a 20-game conference losing streak and held Leach's offense to 14 points. So many in the media jumped on the Leach Bandwagon last week with a higher than deserving ranking and praised his arrival to the big bad conference. Today? Crickets...Wait, Texas lost another close conference game and is likely out of the playoff race? Tell me something that doesn't happen often next time...Oklahoma? Now 1-2 with Texas this week...North Dakota State's next game is February 21, 2021. But the Bison chose to play a showcase game for their quarterback Trey Lance because he will enter the NFL Draft and pass on a spring season. The game was against Central Arkansas and drew at least two dozen NFL scouts. North Dakota State has won eight of the last nine FCS championships but had to rally to win this game 39-28. But Lance failed to dazzle. He ended up going 15-30 for 149 yards and two touchdowns. He also ran for 143 and a pair of scores. Whether the game hurt his draft stock, time will tell. But I know the Bison have the longest bye in college football history before their next game...

Final thought: Pineapples were a sign of wealth in the 18th century England. They were so expensive you could rent them as a status symbol for the night to impress others.

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