Oct. 9, 2007
ORLANDO - The UCF football team takes to the road for its final non-conference game of the season this Saturday as the Knights will make the short trek to Tampa to face the fifth-ranked USF Bulls. Saturday's clash of in-state schools is expected to be played in front of a sellout crowd in Tampa's Raymond James Stadium.
For Knight fans who will not make the drive to the Gulf Coast, they can watch the Knights live on ESPNU. Kickoff is slated for Noon.
Both programs are starting to gain a lot of experience with witnessing massive crowds in their home stadiums. UCF (3-2, 1-1 C-USA) sold out its first game at the new Bright House Networks Stadium when it hosted No. 6 Texas Sept. 15. USF (5-0, 1-0 Big East) accomplished the same feat by selling every ticket at its home field for its tilt with No. 5 West Virginia Sept. 29.
The Knights opened the 2007 campaign with a strong running game and still boasts the nation's leading rusher in junior Kevin Smith. The tailback is averaging 172.00 rushing yards a game, and he also ranks in a tie for first in the country with 11 touchdowns on the ground. The UCF ground attack is churning up 239.6 yards per game, which is good for ninth in the country.
With the game against the fifth-ranked Bulls, the Knights will have plaeyd a pair of top 10 opponents in the same campaign for the first time since 1997. UCF played road games at No. 8 Auburn and No. 6 Nebraska that season. The Knights opened Bright House Networks Stadium with No. 6 Texas earlier this season on Sept. 15.
Special Teams Working Hard
- Senior Curtis Francis returned the opening kickoff vs. East Carolina 93 yards for his first-career touchdown. It was the first kickoff return for a touchdown by the Knights since Paul Miranda returned one 88 yards for a score vs. Toledo 11 seasons ago (Nov. 22, 1997). Francis finished the East Carolina game with five returns for 203 yards, which is the second best single-game total in school history. He also moved up to fourth on the career charts for kickoff return yards with 1,289. His average of 36.86 per return is currently leading the NCAA Football Bowl Subdivision. For the year, Francis has seven returns for 258 yards.
- With his 10-yard punt return on his second attempt of the game vs. East Carolina, junior Joe Burnett became the school's all-time leader in punt return yardage with 721 (52 returns). Burnett, the preseason C-USA Special Teams Player of the Year, had two punt returns for 21 yards vs. East Carolina to eclipse the mark of 717 yards set by Mark Dickinson between 1989-92. Burnett's best effort this season came in the victory vs. Memphis (Sept. 22) when his returns of 37 and 32 yards set up touchdowns. He currently ranks fourth nationally among active punt returners with a 13.67 average per attempt.
- Through five games, true freshmen have accounted for 39 of the Knights' 79 pass receptions (49.4 percent), 609 of the team's 994 receiving yards (61.3 percent) and four of the team's five receiving touchdowns (80 percent). Kamar Aiken leads all UCF receivers with 337 yards and is tied with junior Rocky Ross for the team lead in receptions with 18. A.J. Guyton trails that duo by only one reception as he has 17 catches for 147 yards. Fullback Ricky Kay is the third true freshman adding to those totals as the walk-on has four grabs for 35 yards on the season.
- In 12 games last year, UCF registered 11 rushing touchdowns as three Knights found the endzone. Four players - Kevin Smith (11), Kyle Israel (3), Michael Greco (2) and Phillip Smith (1) - have already recorded rushing scores this season as UCF has 17 rushing touchdowns in 2007, which is tied for the fifth most in the nation by a team (West Virginia leads with 25). The program's single-season rushing touchdown record is 30, which was achieved in 1990. The Knights have had at least two rushing touchdowns in each game this season and three or more rushing scores in three of the five games.
- Averaging 37.6 points in 2007, the Knights have scored in a variety of ways this season. The Knights have 17 rushing touchdowns, five through the air, one blocked punt return and one kickoff return and a safety. The team has also completed a two-point conversion via the air. Additionally, UCF has made six field goals and 22 extra points. Twelve different players have scored for the Knights this season. In 12 contests last year, only 10 Knights scored and the 24 touchdowns through five games are just two shy of their total from 2006 (26 TDs).