UCF football achieved several firsts during the historic 2010 season, including its first bowl victory and top-25 national rankings. Now with the 2011 campaign a month away, the Knights received 22 points in the USA Today Coaches Preseason Poll to rank No. 33 in the nation.
It was the highest preseason ranking UCF has earned, and the third-straight season the Knights were receiving votes in one of the two major preseason polls (the Associated Press top-25 rankings have not been released).
UCF also was the highest-ranked program in Conference USA. Houston came in at No. 37 and Southern Miss was at No. 42. Boise State (No. 7) and TCU (No. 15) were the only two schools from non-automatic qualifying BCS leagues (and Notre Dame) to rank higher than the Knights.
Led by C-USA Coach of the Year George O’Leary, the Black and Gold posted a school-record with 11 victories en route to a C-USA title and an AutoZone Liberty Bowl win over Georgia a year ago. It ranked first in the country in kickoff returns thanks to All-American Quincy McDuffie who enters his junior year in 2011. UCF also was eighth in both rushing defense and scoring defense and has several key role players back this season including defensive end Darius Nall (8.5 sacks) and All-C-USA First Team defensive backs Kemal Ishmael and Josh Robinson.
Guiding the offense in 2010 was C-USA Freshman of the Year Jeff Godfrey, who is a member of the 2011 Davey O’Brien Award Watch List for the nation’s top quarterback. He will have plenty of support as the Knights’ offensive line have a combined 86-career starts and running backs Latavius Murray, Ronnie Weaver and Brynn Harvey each posted at least 10 rushing touchdowns in either 2009 or 2010.
The Knights will get things started in 2011 with the season-opener Sept. 3 against Charleston Southern at 7 p.m. before hosting Boston College Sept. 10 at 8 p.m. at Bright House Networks Stadium.