Gus Malzahn, UCF Football Prepare to Take Next Step Up
When we last saw UCF, the Knights whooped and hollered and celebrated a victory over Florida that was years in the making, one they will probably lord over the Gators forevermore. Case in point: The highlights from said game, a 29-17 win in the Gasparilla Bowl in December, were playing inside Spectrum Stadium before the UCF spring game last month. UCF finished the 2021 regular season 8-4, and it felt the ground the program had gained as the preeminent Group of 5 team had been ceded to the Bearcats, who will be joining the Knights in the Big 12. UCF has not appeared in the American conference championship game since 2018. So it makes sense why the bowl win, and finishing with nine wins in a season filled with so many ups and downs, was especially meaningful as a springboard not only into 2022 but into its long-term future. "It was big in a lot of ways," Malzahn said. "It helped us in recruiting. That and going to the Big 12, I think that combination. Recruits come on campus, and you can just see the atmosphere around that something really special is about to happen. You can kind of feel it, and you can feel it within our players and our staff. I really feel like recruits can sense that. A lot of people like being a part of something, instead of just plugging in to keep something going."