After upsetting the Louisville Cardinals earlier this season, the Central Florida Knights assumed control of the AAC title race. But after close contests against the Houston Cougars (understandably) and Temple Owls (not understandably), it’s clear that UCF must do more than just show up if they hope to secure the conference title. With three games remaining between the Knights and a BCS bowl bid, Central Florida must step up its focus to close things out strong.
Once UCF gutted out a close win over Houston, it looked to be smooth sailing the rest of the way. Their biggest challenges were behind them and they held a firm lead in the conference standings. But after needing a wild 17-point fourth quarter rally to overcome the 1-9 Owls on Saturday, it’s clear that the road to the BCS is going to be a little more difficult than they thought. Avoiding a catastrophic upset in Philadelphia maintained the Knights’ lead in the conference standings and perhaps served as the wake-up call that the team needed.
Looking ahead, UCF holds a significant advantage over the remaining teams on their schedule on paper. They face just one team with a winning record, the Rutgers Scarlet Knights, and they’ve lost three of their last four. Nobody on the Knights’ schedule has been playing anywhere near their ability this season, which makes them prime targets to be overlooked, much like Central Florida already did against Temple.
It would take two losses for the Knights to lose control of the AAC title race at this point thanks to their head-to-head tie-breaker against Louisville. But if the Knights don’t come better prepared to handle business in the final three games than they did against Temple, losing two out of three is a distinct possibility. Can UCF pull it together and finish the season with a conference title?