Nov. 14, 2005
ORLANDO - After losing its first two games of the season, the resurgent UCF Golden Knights (7-3) look for their eighth win in nine games this weekend at Rice. UCF can finish its remarkable run in 2005 with a Conference USA Eastern Division championship with a win over Rice Saturday. The Golden Knights, who earlier in the year ended a 17-game losing streak, have taken Conference USA by storm and sit in first place in the Eastern Division of the league with a 6-1 mark. UCF responded from an 11-point deficit last weekend at UAB by forcing four, fourth quarter turnovers in a dramatic 27-21 victory vs. the Blazers.
This weekend's game will be televised on the CSTV All-Access package. Detailed broadcast information will be released later this week by CSTV.
The UCF ISP Sports Network begins pregame coverage at 1 p.m. with kickoff set for 3 p.m. The voice of the Golden Knights, Marc Daniels, will handle the play-by-play duties while Gary Parris provides color commentary and Jerry O'Neill patrols the sidelines. The radio broadcast is also available at ucfathletics.com.
A Remarkable Turnaround
George O'Leary has engineered the top turnaround in the nation. After going 0-11 in 2004, UCF is 7-3 in 2005, including a 6-1 mark in C-USA. Even more remarkable, UCF has done it with a roster filled with freshmen and sophomores. The Golden Knights have just 10 seniors on scholarship and have 24 freshmen or sophomores who have started this season, including seven true freshmen starters. Another amazing fact is that UCF will play seven of its 11 games this season on the road.
O'Leary is no stranger to turning around the fortunes of a football program. Inheriting a team which posted a 1-10 record in 1994 at Georgia Tech, O'Leary directed the second-best turnaround in the nation in 1995 as the Yellow Jackets finished the season 6-5.
Best Turnarounds in the NCAATeam 2004 record 2005 record Win differentialUCF 0-11 7-3 +7W. Michigan 1-10 7-3 +6Penn State 4-7 9-1 +5TCU 5-6 10-1 +5
The following is a comparison of UCF's statistics from 2004 entering
the 11th game of the season to this year at the same point:NCAA Rankings 2004 2005Category Rank Actual Rank ActualRushing Offense 109 99.5 44 162.0Rushing Defense 93 193.8 68 152.4Scoring Offense 113 15.1 59 26.7Scoring Defense 96 32.1 59 25.2Passing Offense 97 167.6 45 234.9Total Offense 117 267.1 48 396.9Total Defense 72 390.1 78 399.1Passing Effic. 91 112.5 27 141.9
Change in the Right Direction
UCF is currently tied for third among the most improved teams in NCAA history. The Golden Knights have improved 7.5 games from last season.
UCF has the best turnaround in Conference USA history after its 27-21 victory at UAB.
NCAA All-Time Most Improved TeamsTeam (Year) Games 1. Hawaii (1999) 8.52. Stanford (1940) 83. UCF (2005) 7.53. S. Carolina (2000) 7.5
* To determine games improved, add the difference in victories between
the two seasons to the difference in losses, then divide by two.
UCF is just the seventh team in NCAA history to become bowl eligible after going winless the previous year.
Prior to UCF, South Carolina was the last team to go from a winless campaign to bowl eligible a year later. In 1999, the Gamecocks went 0-11 before going 8-4 in 2000 under head coach Lou Holtz.
Bowl Eligible after Winless SeasonTeam Year Record Previous YearUtah St. 1942 6-3-1 0-8UTEP 1965 8-3 0-8-2Florida 1980 8-4 0-10-1Kentucky 1983 6-5-1 0-10-1Hawaii 1999 9-4 0-12S. Carolina 2000 8-4 0-11UCF 2005 7-3 0-11
One of Only Four in NCAA History
UCF is just the fourth team in NCAA history to record a four-game winning streak a year after going winless. South Carolina (2000), Ball State (2000) and Hawaii (1999) are the only other schools to record a four-game winning streak a year after going winless. No team in NCAA history has ever won five straight contests after going winless the previous season.
Win Streaks after a Winless SeasonTeam Year Win Streak Prev. Year UCF 2005 4,3 0-11 S. Carolina 2000 4, 3 0-11 Ball State 2000 4 0-11 Hawaii 1999 4,3 0-12 B. College 1979 3 0-11 UTEP 1974 3 0-11
UCF could become just the fourth team in NCAA history to play seven away games in a season (11-game schedule) and participate in a bowl game.
Southern Miss was the last team to play seven games on the road and reach a bowl game in 2000. The Golden Eagles finished the season 8-4 and ended the season with a win over TCU in the GMAC Bowl.
The Golden Knights have seven games on the road in 2005, including Saturday's game at Rice.
Team Year Road Games Record UCF 2005 7 TBD Southern Miss 2000 7 8-4 San Jose State 1986 7 10-2 Northern Ill. 1983 7 10-2
UCF visits Rice for the first-ever meeting between the two schools. The Golden Knights are 3-3 all-time vs. schools from the state of Texas, including a 31-29 victory over Houston earlier this season.
UCF will play just its second game ever in the Lone Star state. The only other time UCF played in the state of Texas was on Sept. 29, 1984 at Southwest Texas State (L, 39-13).
Best Conference Record since 2002
With a win Saturday, the Golden Knights will clinch their best record ever in conference play. The Golden Knights, who were an independent from 1996-2001 in Division I-A, were part of the Mid-American Conference (2002-04) before joining Conference USA in 2005. UCF's best record ever in conference play was in 2002 when the Golden Knights ended the year 6-2 in the MAC.
Gaining National Attention
The Golden Knights are receiving votes in both the Associated Press Top 25 and the USA Today/Coaches' Top 25 this week. It marked the first time since 1998 that UCF has earned votes in both polls.
Winning the Close Games
UCF is 6-1 this season in games decided by 10 points or less.
Turnovers Key to Turnaround
In UCF's seven wins this season, the Golden Knights have forced 24 turnovers. In three losses, UCF has just four takeaways.
In the seven wins, UCF has outscored the opposition 123-48 in the first half, including a 66-10 advantage in the first quarter.
In the Golden Knights' three losses, UCF has been outscored 83-10 in the first half.
Running Wild in Conference USA
UCF has displayed one of the best rushing attacks in C-USA during league games in 2005. In seven league games, the Golden Knights have averaged 194.7 rushing yards per game.
Interception Streak Continues
UCF has recorded at least one interception in eight straight games, which is the second-longest streak in UCF's Division I-A history.
The Golden Knights have 16 interceptions in their last eight games, including 10 in their last four games.
True freshman tailback Kevin Smith has taken Conference USA by storm in 2005. The Miami native has two 100-yard games in C-USA action and is the league's fourth-leading rusher.
He ranks seventh in the NCAA in rushing yards for a true freshman with 810. He is also tied for fifth in 100-yard games for a true freshman with three.
Smith's 164 yards in the Memphis victory is the 13th-highest total by a true freshman in the nation this season in a single game.
Offensive Turnaround Key in 2005
Going into the 11th game of the season in 2004, UCF's offense ranked 117th in the nation with an average of 267.1 yards per game.
In 2005, UCF is 48th in total offense with 396.9 yards per game, an improvement of 129.8 yards per game.
4th Down Success
UCF has been terrific in 2005 on 4th downs, both offensively and defensively. The Golden Knights have converted 10-of-16 4th down conversions in 2005 (62 %) offensively, while their defense has held the opposition to a 2-for-12 conversion rate on 4th down (17 %).
Back-to-Back Comeback Wins on the Road
UCF has rallied from behind in its last two Conference USA games on the road. The Golden Knights trailed East Carolina 20-17 in the fourth quarter before securing a 31-20 victory Oct. 29 and came from 11 down at UAB to defeat the Blazers 27-21 Nov. 12.
Going for Number Four on the Road
UCF would tie a single-season school record for wins on the road if the Golden Knights top Rice Saturday.
Only one other team in UCF's Division I-A history has won four games in one season away from home. The 1998 team, led by senior quarterback Daunte Culpepper, won four games on the road.
UCF has won three road games in the Division I-A ranks three other times in school history (2000, 2002, 2005).
Seven Wins and Counting
With UCF's 7-3 record, the 2005 Golden Knights are tied for the second-most wins in the school's 10-year, Division I-A history.
Only the 1998 team had more victories in a season than this year's squad.