John Denton's Knights Insider

Nov. 23, 2009

By John Denton

Another weekend, another couple of record-setting performances from UCF's football and men's basketball teams.

A week after the football team notched its first-ever win against a ranked foe and the men's basketball team routed UMass before a near-record crowd, the two squads pulled off another impressive one-two punch this past weekend.

First, UCF's young and scrappy men's basketball team defeated Auburn 84-74 at Daytona's Ocean Center for the program's first-ever win against a team from the South Eastern Conference. How dominant was UCF's squad of mostly freshmen and sophomores? The Knights never trailed in the game and led by as much as 21 points during the second half.

Then on Saturday, UCF's football set a Conference USA record for the largest shutout victory ever in league play when it thumped Tulane 49-0 at Bright House Networks Stadium. The Knights also held the Green Wave to negative-30 yards rushing, the second-best defensive performance in the nation on the ground this season.

The men's basketball team came back on Sunday (following a Saturday letdown loss against Niagara) and delivered a strong closing kick to defeat Drake 59-50 in the finale of the Glenn Wilkes Classic.

At 7-4, UCF's football team is already assured of playing in the program's third bowl game and it strengthened its position in the pecking order. Five bowls - EagleBank, St. Petersburg, Sheraton Hawaii, Armed Forces and New Orleans - are still very much in play for the Knights. At this point, UCF is hopeful of landing a postseason game against a quality opponent that will provide the maximum amount of exposure for the program.

"We have such good momentum right now as a team going into our last game at UAB and the bowl game," said senior linebacker Cory Hogue, who closed out his home career at home with what he dubbed "the greatest defensive effort ever given here."

"We just want to win our last two games and close the season out the right way," Hogue continued.

As for the men's basketball team, the Knights are off to an impressive 4-1 and assuredly ahead of the projections of many who expected UCF to struggle after losing Conference USA Player of the Year Jermaine Taylor to the NBA. But the Knights already have big wins over Auburn, UMass, Drake and Howard.

"I just think this (strong start to the season) shows that we have character as a team, shows that we're ready to play every night and we understand what our coach is saying to us," UCF standout guard Isaac Sosa said. "That's the keys to our success."

Ahead for the football team is a game at UAB on Saturday and then the Knights will play the waiting game to decide where they are headed for the postseason.

Though many have assumed for weeks that UCF would play in the St. Petersburg Bowl for weeks because of geographical reasons, the Knights could be catching a flight for bowl play rather than driving down I-4 to I-275.

The Knights might prefer to play in the Dec. 29 EagleBank Bowl in Washington, D.C.'s RFK Stadium if it means facing a school from a BCS-affiliated conference. The EagleBank Bowl might not be able to hand out bids until Dec. 12 because Army has a tie-in to the game if it is bowl-eligible. Army must upset a powerful Navy team to get to six wins.

Playing in the Washington, D.C.-based bowl is appealing to the Knights because it might pit them against teams such as Texas A&M, UCLA or UConn.

Regardless of what happens in the weeks to come, clearly the performances of the past two weekends prove that the futures of the two men's programs are very bright.