The Knights may be all over the Top 25 standings after a shocker win over the Louisville Cardinals on Thursday, but they face one of their biggest challenges this Saturday: the opponent with the bad record.
UConn arrives in the Bright House carrying a good luck charm with it: UCF’s troubled history against overmatched teams. Two years ago they let an outgunned FIU team upend them 17-10 thanks to crucial fumbles. Last season they barely escaped from a basement-dwelling UTEP team with a victory margin of only a touchdown. Then on Oct. 5 this season they only defeated a one-win Memphis squad by scoring two touchdowns in nine seconds and intercepting a would-be game-tying pass in the end zone in the final seconds.
This season the Knights are 5-1 after bamboozling No. 8/6 Louisville, which was downgraded Sunday to No. 20 in the first release of the Bowl Championship Series rankings. It was a wild swing in rankings after a wild win.
On Oct. 18 the UCF Knights stunned a Louisville home crowd that had been there to celebrate an undefeated team's homecoming. It was a Knightmare of a homecoming for the Cardinals, with UCF coming back to edge them 38-35.
“I'm really proud of the players," UCF Head Coach George O'Leary told ESPN after the game. "They got down 28-7 and they kept clawing away.”
The Knights scored 24 unanswered points to become the first team this season to lead Louisville at any point in a game. They erased a 28-7 deficit in a matter of minutes in the second half, scoring three touchdowns in less than the span of five minutes. The go-ahead score that ended the Cardinals run as the final FBS team to not trail in any game this season came off kicker Shawn Moffitt's foot to put the Knights up 31-28.
The Cardinals struck back after that kick, marching down the field for a quick TD to regain the lead with only three minutes left and hand the ball back to the Knights. In the game-winning drive, quarterback Blake Bortles would pass for 75 yards in 11 plays to run out most of the clock and take the score that would put the Knights on top for good.
In the wake of the upset win, the Knights were catapulted into four Top 25 rankings at once. They’re No. 25 in the USA Today poll, No. 23 in the BCS standings, No. 21 in the AP Top 25, and No. 16 in ESPN.com’s Power Rankings. In the lattermost ranking the Knights leapfrogged Louisville, which fell to No. 20 in that poll.
The Knights on Saturday host American Athletic Conference rival UConn, which is 0-6 on the season. The Huskies are coming off a 41-16 loss to Cincinnati, which is mid-pack in the AAC standings.
The Huskies have suffered from offensive line weakness, giving up 31 sacks in six games, while averaging 16.3 points per game and allowing 30.7 points per game. The Knights are scoring 32.8 points per game and allowing 19.7 points per game.
One of the most telling figures for the Knights is red zone scoring. The Knights have scored 93 percent of the time they’ve crossed the 20-yard line. They’ve snagged a touchdown 68 percent of the time. The Huskies have scored 86 percent of the time in the red zone, but only 36 percent of the time have they emerged with a touchdown and they’ve missed nearly half of their field goal attempts.
The game kicks off at noon and will be televised on ESPN.