The historical development of UCF’s football program hit a milestone on Sunday afternoon when the Knights earned their first ever Top 25 ranking in both the Associated Press and USA Today Coaches polls. The Knights entered the coaches poll at No. 23 and the AP poll at No. 25.
UCF is joined by Florida as the only teams from the football-rich state to rank in the current Top 25. UCF is ahead of the No. 24 Gators in the coaches poll but trails No. 24 Florida in the AP’s rankings.
The Knights charged into the polls after averaging 41.4 points per game over the team’s current five-game winning streak, three of which were nationally televised on either ESPN or ESPN2. Friday night’s 40-33 win at Houston was an eye-opener for many about true freshman Jeff Godfrey who went 15-of-19 passing for 294 yards and two touchdowns while also rushing for 105 yards and a score, giving the Miami Central graduate 399 yards of total offense on the night. Godfrey’s 243.66 passing efficiency rating narrowly missed Daunte Culpepper’s school single game record while his seasonal mark of 152.14 stands 21st in the nation and is the best amongst true freshman signal callers.
UCF’s defense has remained stout and tops C-USA in four of the five major statistical categories, setting the league pace in total defense, scoring defense, passing defense and passing efficiency defense while ranking second to Southern Miss in rushing defense. UCF’s defensive leaders include cancer-survivor Darius Nall who ranks 17th nationally with 7.5 sacks on the season and preseason All-American defensive end who has two interception returns for a touchdown on the year.
“It’s very difficult when you’re not in the top 25 from the start of the season to get there, and when you climb in it shows a lot of progress by your football team,” UCF head coach George O’Leary said. “I think it’s great for the kids, I really do. They don’t talk a lot about it because they are interested in one goal and that’s the conference championship. But when nice things happen like (getting ranked) it means you are doing some nice things on the field. It’s nice to honored by your fellow coaches.
“I think it’s great for the school and for the football program to be ranked. But the key is to continue winning. That’s the name of the game.”
The Knights (7-2, 5-0 C-USA) will play host to Southern Miss (6-3, 4-2) on Saturday for Senior Day. The Golden Eagles received a pair of votes in the coaches poll today. Tickets are still available, including the special “UCF Fan Pack Built by Centex” which gives fans a very specially-priced $20 package of a game ticket in sections 217-219, a hot dog, a box of popcorn and a soft drink, a value of $35 for just $20. The special “UCF Fan Pack Built by Centex” can be purchased either online at UCFAthletics.com or over the phone at (407) 823-1000 while supplies last.
The game could also prove historic for the Knights as well. If UAB were to defeat East Carolina on Thursday night, then UCF would be able to clinch the C-USA East Division with a win over the Golden Eagles on Saturday at Bright House Networks Stadium.
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