UCF Knights: A Legitimate Contender Following Huge Win Over Louisville Cardinals

Blake Bortles Scrambles

Jamie Rhodes-USA TODAY Sports

For a program that hasn’t seen very many big games in past years, the 2013-14 University of Central Florida Knights faced one of their toughest tests Friday night on the road against the eighth ranked Louisville Cardinals and Heisman Trophy candidate Teddy Bridgewater.

How the Knights fared would play a huge role in deciding two things: their chances of winning the new AAC and whether this team could finally, after years of being college football‘s biggest laughingstock, hang around with the big boys, making them legitimate contenders.

After a dramatic last-second, come-from-behind win over a Cardinals team many predicted would easily make it back to a BCS bowl, the Knights have finally proven they’re a legitimate contender. They are a team that’s capable of making life incredibly difficult for anyone who must face them.

Who, in all honesty, saw this coming? Definitely not me, though the Knights did beat a decent Penn State team on the road earlier this season. They also hung tight with South Carolina a few weeks ago, but that game was in Orlando.

Regardless of location, this team’s been playing everyone tough, which is important when you consider where they were not too long ago. A perennially bad team, unable to hang with Division 1-AA opponents and then getting wiped off the floor by insane margins against ranked opponents.

Boy, what a difference time and strong recruiting makes. The Knights have gone from league doormat to a contender in literally one season. Okay, I digress. They had talent and showed glimpses last year and possibly the one before, but ultimately, fell short against better teams.

Now, the question is whether they can handle the pressure associated with being viewed as a contender. If so, the college football world better make room for a team intent on proving they belong in pretty much every conversation going forward.

Lauren Burg is a Tampa Bay Lightning, NHL and NCAA writer for RantSports.com. Follow her on Twitter, like her on Facebook and join her Google network.

Around the Web