Performance shows Knights can make a run
Published: Monday, October 8, 2012
Updated: Monday, October 8, 2012 08:10
Oh, the difference a week can make.
Everything the Knights lacked in a loss to Missouri they produced in abundance Thursday night against ECU.
40-20 final. And just like that, UCF sends the first Conference USA team on its way with the perfect parting gift — a loss.
Have a nice life, Pirates.
After the Knights’ drubbing of their conference rival ECU, one thing is abundantly clear — this team should make a nice run through C-USA.
An undefeated one, that is.
It’s a bold expectation to have, considering the Knights are sitting with a 3-2 record at the moment. But really, it’s not.
Most reasonable people would agree that the Knights are the most talented squad in the conference this year. The team was picked to win the East division in the preseason.
But, after heartbreaking losses to Ohio State and Missouri, UCF looked like the kind of team that might have the talent to do big things in conference play, but would find a way to mess things up.
Then Thursday night happened.
The game started with the Knights performing their best impression of a matador defense to start the game, allowing ECU to march down the field.
Just after that, the Pirates nailed a huge pass-and-catch to go up 14-0.
Just like that, it looked like the team was going to disappoint in a big way.
But at that moment, UCF showed something I hadn’t seen all year.
It showed some heart.
The Knights refused to look back, going on a 40-6 run to finish the game. Oh, and they didn’t falter in the second half like we’ve seen in games past.
That’s right, UCF came back from an early deficit and closed out a win.
It really happened. And it came against an in-conference rival that was 2-0 in C-USA play.
So now what?
Well now is when the team should win — every single game.
And it’s not just because the Knights are good. They’ve proven they can manage to lose winnable games.
C-USA is also just that bad.
For instance, sitting atop the C-USA East standings at the moment alongside UCF is Memphis.
That’s not a typo.
The same Memphis team that started the season winless facing the likes of Tennessee-Martin, Arkansas State, Middle Tennessee and Duke managed to pull out a C-USA win.
Only six weeks of games have passed, so it’s a bit early to look at the standings. But it’s not too early to wonder what happened to Southern Miss — winless through five games — and Houston — 2-3 with losses to Texas State and Louisiana Tech.
Those two teams, by the way, represented the conference in its title game just one year ago.
It’s safe to say C-USA is a shell of its 2011 self.
ESPN had the conference ranked 11th on Oct. 1, seated behind the Sun Belt, MAC and every other conference that exists.
So when I look at UCF’s favorable remaining schedule, I see wins. Seven straight farewell wins. And that really isn’t too much to ask.
Now, when you go back and watch the replay of UCF’s win over ECU, pay special attention to Quincy McDuffie’s kick return for a touchdown.
If you look really closely you can see him run over the title hopes of each C-USA team as he makes his way to the promised land.
OK, maybe not. But figuratively, you better believe it.
This team should roll for the rest of the year.
And if it doesn’t, it will be doing one thing at a very high level — underachieving.