Nov. 4, 2005
ORLANDO - The UCF Golden Knights (5-3, 4-1 Conference USA) return to the Florida Citrus Bowl on Saturday for a Homecoming contest against the Houston Cougars (4-3, 2-2). This will mark the final home game of the year for UCF, as it looks to close out the home slate with a perfect 4-0 record. The last time UCF posted a perfect record at home was in 2001 when it went 5-0 at the Citrus Bowl. The Golden Knights will also be looking to capture their sixth win of the season, a feat that would make them eligible. Kickoff for the game is set for 6:15 p.m.
The i Network (formerly PAX) will broadcast the game nationally as part of "CSTV's Football Nation." In Florida, the i Network is available in numerous cities, including Orlando (WOPX-56), Jacksonville (WPXC-21), Miami (WPXM-35), Tampa-St. Petersburg-Sarasota (WXPX-66) and West Palm Beach-Ft. Pierce (WPXP-67).
The UCF ISP Network and its flagship station 740-The Team AM (WQTM) will broadcast the game live. Marc Daniels will once again have the call with Gary Parris. Jerry O'Neill will handle the sideline duties. Network affiliates include WMMV-1350 in Cocoa, WDCF-1350 Dade City, WROD-1340 in Daytona Beach and WMMB-1240 Melbourne.
The matchup is also available on Sirius Satellite Radio as the "C-USA Football Game of the Week" on channel 126. Additionally, the C-USA contest will be streamed live online through the All-Access broadband package, available at www.UCFathletics.com.
Prior to the game, UCF will honor its 13 seniors. Jeff Branham, John Brown, Paul Carrington, James Cook, Antonio Eldemire, Mike Graham, Darcy Johnson, Mike Malatesta, Brandon Marshall, Frisner Nelson, Matt Prater, Glenroy Watkins and Anthony Willis will all be recognized before their final home game.
Fans looking for a more extensive preview and UCF head coach George O'Leary's thoughts on Houston, should tune into "The George O'Leary Show," which will air Friday at 5:30 p.m. on Sun Sports and again Saturday at 1 p.m. on WESH-2.
"I think they (Houston) are a very talented football team," said O'Leary. "They spread it out a lot on offense and have some playmakers on offense. Defensively, they have had people move the ball a little bit on them. Their offense basically controls a lot of possession time as far as what goes on in the game. We will have our work cut out for us this week."
The Cougars, who were idle last week, come into the game with the 14th ranked offense in the nation and first overall in C-USA, averaging 459 yards per game. Quarterback Kevin Kolb has established himself as one of the better passers in C-USA. He is currently ranked fourth in passing efficiency with a rating of 134.51.
Balance has been a big key to Houston's offensive success. Tailback Ryan Gilbert has helped establish a solid ground game for the Cougars, averaging 85 yards per game and scoring six touchdowns on the season. Kolb has a pair of reliable receivers in Vincent Marshall and Donnie Avery. Marshall has caught 41 passes for 511 yards and two touchdowns this season, while Avery has caught 29 passes for 430 yards and four touchdowns.
"It is really like a run and shoot offense," said O'Leary. "They run power. They option. They run reads. They run everything."
Defensively, Houston has struggled against the run this year. The team is giving up 181.7 yards per game on the ground which ranks 92nd in the country. The Cougars have had more success defending the pass, giving up just 215 yards per game through the air.
Houston is one of the better road teams in C-USA, with a 4-1 record away from home. One of its biggest victories of the year came two weeks ago when the team beat Mississippi State, 28-16, in a non-league contest in Starkville. The Cougars were idle last week.
"We haven't had that many home games," said head coach Art Briles. "We have had more opportunities on the road. Out of seven games, we've had five chances playing on the road. That's really about the only thing. All we do when we get to the game is concentrate on playing between the lines."
The Golden Knights are coming off of their first C-USA road victory after beating East Carolina last week. With the victory, UCF remains tied atop C-USA's East Division with three games left.
Offensively, the Golden Knights continue to establish a dominating ground game. Junior tailback Jason Peters had his best game of the season, rushing for 113 yards and two touchdowns against East Carolina. His second touchdown was a 67-yard run, which was the fifth longest run from scrimmage in school history. True freshman Kevin Smith has emerged as one of the best freshman tailbacks in the country. Smith ran the ball 22 times for 91 yards against ECU. Smith is currently the fifth leading freshman tailback in the country with 651 yards so far this season.
Junior Quarterback Steven Moffett ignited the passing game when it counted the most versus the Pirates, throwing two critical touchdown passes to junior wide receiver Mike Walker in the fourth quarter. Moffett finished the game 10-for-25 passing for 181 yards and two touchdowns. Walker finished with seven catches for 110 yards and the two fourth quarter touchdowns.
Defensively, the Golden Knights did their part by forcing six ECU turnovers. UCF had three interceptions and also forced three fumbles. Freshman Joe Burnett had his third interception in two games to go along with seven tackles. Redshirt freshman Augustus Ashley, making his first career start, recorded his first interception during ECU's opening drive.
Ashley and Walker both earned C-USA Player of the Week honors for their performances in the victory.