Oct. 30, 2006
Orlando, Fla. (www.ucfathletics.com) - UCF returns to the Florida Citrus Bowl on Saturday to face East Carolina in the Golden Knights' homecoming contest at 4 p.m. ET. The Golden Knights (2-6, 1-3 C-USA) have won 10 of their last 11 homecoming tilts and will look to get back on the winning track against their Conference USA East Division foe.
The two teams met for the first time as respective conference members last year in Greenville, in what was the Pirates' homecoming contest. The Golden Knights put a damper on those festivities as they rallied for a 30-20 victory over the Pirates (4-4, 3-2 C-USA).
The Pirates, who lead the overall series 4-1, enter the contest on the heels of a 20-17 overtime victory over Southern Miss, which vaulted them to the top of the C-USA East Division. East Carolina is led by senior quarterback James Pinkey, who has passed for 1,950 yards and seven touchdowns this season.
The Golden Knights are tops in the league in both rushing and total offense in C-USA games this season, averaging 203 yards on the ground and 456.2 total yards. Reigning C-USA Freshman of the Year Kevin Smith has been the primary force on the ground, having posted four-consecutive 100-yard rushing efforts in league play.
UCF Quick Hits
? This will be the sixth meeting between the two schools and first in Orlando since the 1991 season when the series opened with the Pirates recording a 47-25 victory. East Carolina owns a 4-1 advantage in the all-time series.
? The first three meetings occured when UCF was a Division I-AA member. The Golden Knights dropped all three of those contests, as well as a 1996 contest during their first year as a Division I-A member.
? UCF snapped its four-game losing streak to the Pirates last season in Greenville, as the Knights tallied a 30-20 victory in the first C-USA match-up between the teams.
? The teams combined for 20 points during an exciting fourth quarter in last year's game. East Carolina grabbed a 20-17 lead with 12:14 to play, but a pair of late touchdown passes from Steven Moffett to Mike Walker sealed the win for UCF.
? The contest will mark the 27th homecoming game in UCF history. The Knights are 18-8 overall in those games, including winning 10 of their last 11. The last four homecoming losses have come by a combined total of seven points.
? This will mark the second time UCF has played a homecoming game on Nov. 4. The first came in 1995, the school's last year as a Division I-AA member, when the squad defeated Bethune-Cookman 38-7.
? East Carolina will be the first homecoming opponent for the Golden Knights from the state of North Carolina.
? The last four homecoming opponents have all been conference games for the Golden Knights. UCF is 3-1 in those contests with its only setback coming to Ohio on Nov. 6, 2004 when the Bobcats pulled out a 17-16 OT win.
? The 31-29 victory over Houston in last year's homecoming game was played in front of a UCF-homecoming record crowd of 32,635 - a total that ranks ninth overall.
Facing Conference USA
? Since joining C-USA last season, UCF has an equal regular season league record of 4-2 at home and 4-2 on the road.
? UCF also fell to Tulsa, 44-27, in last year's postseason C-USA title game at the Florida Citrus Bowl.
? UCF is a combined 11-13 all-time against the current C-USA line-up, having faced nine of the 11 teams in its football history.
? The Knights were former conference partners with Marshall when both schools were members of the MAC. Marshall held a 3-0 advantage in those contests, but UCF has won both contests against the Thundering Herd as a C-USA member.
All-Time UCF Lettermen from North Carolina
Current UCF sophomore linebacker Jordan Richards hails from Cary, N.C., where he was a two-time All-Conference honoree for Cary High School in addition to being the team's MVP as a senior. Richards, joins Eric Smith (1989) of Camp Lejeune, N.C. as the only players from the Tar Heel State to play for UCF in its 28 seasons of football.
UCF Breaks Home Attendance Mark
After nearly setting a home attendance mark in 2005 (142,401), Golden Knight fans took only five games this season to break the record established in 1988 when 153,343 attended seven UCF home games. Through five games this season, 165,813 fans have come through the gates at the Florida Citrus Bowl.
If the average of 33,163 holds, the Golden Knights will surpass the 200,000 mark for the first time in school history. UCF has two home games remaining on its 2006 schedule.
So far this season, the third and seventh-largest crowds in program history have come out to the Citrus Bowl to watch UCF football. The 46,708 to attend the USF game topped last year's USF road game in Tampa (45,319) by 1,389.
The 76,108 in back-to-back home regular season games to start the 2006 year was the most in a two-game regular season home span in program history, topping the 75,313 that came to the Virginia Tech (50,220) and Louisiana.-Monroe (25,093) games in 2000. Last year, 84,613 came out to the postseason C-USA title game and the Houston game (32,635) just before that on Nov. 5.
UCF Football Televised a Record Amount in 2006
The UCF football team will play in front of a national audience a record seven-times in 2006, surpassing the five national appearances the program made in 2005. Overall, the Golden Knights have nine televised games in 2006 - also a record total.
Most recently, Conference USA announced that CSTV will carry the East Carolina game on tape delay to a national audience on Monday, Nov. 6 at 8 p.m.
Additionally, CSTV will carry the game at Memphis on Nov. 11 to a national audience. Comcast Sports South, partnering with CSTV, will broadcast the regular season finale against UAB to a regional audience on Nov. 25.
So far this season, UCF has appeared nationally on CSTV twice (USF and Houston), ESPN2 twice (Southern Miss and Marshall) and ESPN once (Pittsburgh). The Knights have also appeared on Sun Sports (Florida).
Since moving up to Division I in 1996, the program has made 57 televised appearances, including 16 on national television.
Kevin Smith Stepping Up In Conference USA Play
Sophomore tailback Kevin Smith has rushed for 1,324 yards (110.33 avg.) through 12 career Conference USA regular season contests. A preseason first-team All-C-USA pick by the leagues' coaches, Smith has lived up to those expectations through the first four league games of the 2006 campaign.
In games against Southern Miss, Marshall, Rice and Houston, Smith has totaled 613 yards on 111 carries (5.5 avg.). The 153.25 per league game rushing average ranks second in Conference USA.
He has surpassed the 100-yard plateau in all four of the Knights' league contests (129 vs. Southern Miss; 166 at Marshall; 155 vs. Rice and 163 at Houston). Smith is averaging 113 yards rushing in seven overall games - a total that ranks second among C-USA running backs.
Mike Walker Continues to Climb up the UCF Record Book
With his six catches for 119 yards at Houston, senior Mike Walker made several moves throughout the UCF career receiving lists.
After becoming just the ninth player all-time at UCF to surpass the 2,000-yard receiving plateau with his record 13-169 performance against Rice, Walker upped his career totals to 154 receptions, 2,149 yards and eight 100-yard games.
The six catches at Houston allowed him to jump two spots, surpassing Tyson Hinshaw (148) and Ted Wilson (151), into sixth place. He is eight receptions behind Charles Lee (162) for fifth on the all-time list.
The 119 yards receiving against the Cougars bumped him past Bernard Ford (2,138) into eighth place. He stands just 99 and 100 yards away from sixth (Charles Lee 2,249) and seventh (Siaha Burley 2,248), respectively.
The 100-yard effort, his third this season and second consecutive, was his eighth overall moving him into a tie for seventh with current NFL players Doug Gabriel and Brandon Marshall.
Walker leads the team and is tied for third in the nation with 60 receptions for 766 yards and four touchdowns. Each game this season, he has either led the team in receptions or receiving yards and now has caught at least one pass in 24 straight games.
His average of 7.5 catches per game is tied for the lead among all Division I-A receivers and his average of 95.75 receiving yards a game ranks 10th.
Javid James Offers Receiving Balance for UCF
Junior Javid James caught three passes for 54 yards at Houston, including a career-long 43-yard catch in the second quarter that led to a UCF touchdown on the next play.
James has now caught at least two passes in his last five games since making his first-career start against Southern Miss on Sept. 26. In those five games, James has caught 19 passes for 234 yards and a touchdown. Both totals rank second on the team.
James led the team with 86 yards receiving on five catches against Marshall on Oct. 4. Against Southern Miss, James was the first wide receiver besides Mike Walker to lead the Golden Knights in catches for a game this season after he hauled in seven for 70 yards against the Golden Eagles.
Prior to that Southern Miss game, James had just one career reception, a six-yard grab in last year's game vs. the Golden Eagles. The six-foot-three wideout also caught his first career touchdown in the Southern Miss contest this season, a six-yard scoring play late in the fourth quarter that pulled the Golden Knights within five points.
Rocky Ross Stepping Into Prime Receiving Role
Sophomore receiver Rocky Ross had three receptions for 34 yards at Houston, including two catches for 26 in the first quarter. The first offensive play of the game was a 16-yard reception by Ross. His second catch was a crucial 10-yard first-down strike that took UCF deep into Houston territory on a drive that the Knights would eventually score their first touchdown.
A week prior to the Houston game, Ross had a career day against Rice. The Jacksonville native set career highs with five receptions for 85 yards. He also found the endzone twice, first on a two-yard scoring strike in the second quarter, then again on a three-yard strike in the fourth quarter. The touchdowns were the first of his UCF career. Ross set up his first touchdown by hauling in a 55-yard pass.