On Saturday at 3:45 p.m., it will be 130 days since UConn football’s head coach Bob Diaco decided to randomly create a rivalry with UCF from nothing more than a trophy, a little more than 1,000 miles and a photo posted to Twitter that sparked more questions than anything.
The teams have met twice in program history. UCF won the first meeting 62-17, and UConn took the second 37-29.
The Knights had no say in the division foe’s creation of the rivalry.
“I don’t know much about it. I haven’t even mentioned it to the kids, except there’s a trophy involved in the game,” head coach George O’Leary said. “I think it was taken out of context. When he did that, from what I understand, he wanted to emulate UCF.”
Diaco may have wanted to emulate the style of play that the back-to-back American Athletic Conference champions displayed in their 15-1 run in conference play.
They may not want to match the winless Knights now.
“When he did it, we were [the] top dog in the conference,” O’Leary said. “I think he wanted his team to see enough on film to play the same way, as far as not a lot of penalties, play hard-nose and just a line-of-scrimmage game.”
Now, the Knights (0-5, 0-1 in AAC) are dead last in the FBS in total offense, averaging 266.4 yards per game. But UConn (2-3, 0-1 in AAC) isn’t far behind. It sits five spots ahead in 122nd, averaging 302 yards per game.
UConn’s defense slightly outweighs UCF’s as well.
The Huskies are tied with Miami at 41st, letting up an average 344 yards per game.
UCF is tied with New Mexico at 75th, letting up an average 389.4 yards per game.
“They have good size, they’ve always played pretty good defense and I think their new offensive coordinator there, I think they’re doing more things now that they’re putting points on the board,” O’Leary said. “They’re still very stingy on defense.”
The one common denominator in the Knights’ minds is that their conference goal is still intact, especially since Temple is the only AAC East team that stands unbeaten in the division.
“I don’t really know much about the rivalry, but we’re just going to treat it as we treat every other conference game,” wide receiver Jordan Franks said. “We’ve got to go win conference; that’s our only goal as a team.”
Even in the mid-day heat at Bright House Networks Stadium, UConn may be a tough test for UCF.
CORRECTION: The original article stated that only UConn's win last year was on the trophy. According to UConnHuskies.com, head coach Bob Diaco announced that UCF's 2013 win was added to the trophy Tuesday.
Jarrod Heil is the Sports Editor for the Central Florida Future. Follow him on Twitter at @JarrodHeil or email him at JarrodH@CentralFloridaFuture.com.