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With the move to the American Athletic Conference came an ESPN media-rights contract. Although the payout wasn't what the conference initially expected, schools such as UCF have basked in the ESPN spotlight.

On Thursday, the Knights will travel to Houston to face the Cougars, and will be shown on ESPN at 7 p.m. UCF opened the season on ESPN2 against Penn State and faced Missouri on the SEC Network two weeks later.

As a team that has frequented the ESPN airwaves, the players are getting used to being in the spotlight.

"It's good for UCF. It's good for our school because it gives us a lot of exposure," senior linebacker Troy Gray said. "A lot of people get to tune in, so you have friends that get to watch. Some guys have family in Houston that will be able to come to the game."

In the 2013 season, an average of 1,679,600 viewers tuned in to watch UCF, which made it the 39th-most watched team in college football, according to Sports Media Watch. The television contract, to this point, is proving to be crucial in UCF's rise — which saw major growth in 2013.

"We've been fortunate with ESPN. They grabbed a bunch of our games for national recognition," head coach George O'Leary said. "I think it's great exposure for the program."

The Knights' success on national television of course peaked in the 2013 Tostitos Fiesta Bowl, which was televised by ESPN and saw 11.2 million viewers.

"As far as for a marketing tool, you can spend a lot of money and not get what you get from a national TV-exposure game," O'Leary said.

UCF doesn't have to pay to run its commercial on the telecast, which gives it a platform to share its brand nationally.

The Knights have at least three more games — BYU, Tulsa and ECU — which are slated for ESPN broadcasts.

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