Wednesday, May 18, 2011
C-USA BCS Buster: UCF
By Andrea Adelson
I have been taking a look at potential BCS busters among Conference USA teams since yesterday and am just about ready to wrap up my look at the top teams in the league. Up next is UCF, an up-and-coming team that made it into the Top 25 last season for the first time in school history. UCF has plenty of ingredients for success -- new stadium, nice facilities and a location in one of the top recruiting hotbeds in the nation. But until last season, the Knights were as inconsistent as you can get -- up one season and down the next. Will UCF be able to build on a school-record 11-win season in 2011 and potentially get into a BCS game?
Why they have a shot: The Knights have put together solid recruiting classes for the past several years, so the talent level is there to potentially become the next Boise State or TCU. Quarterback Jeff Godfrey played extremely well as a true freshman, and the Knights are loaded in the backfield with Brynn Harvey returning to join Ronnie Weaver and Latavius Murray. The schedule features two tough nonconference games, against Boston College and BYU, but no ranked teams on the schedule. BC and BYU made bowl games last season, but neither was overly impressive. No question UCF is going to be one of the favorites to win its Conference USA division once again.
Why they won't make it: There are major holes to fill on the defense, which has been the strongest part of this team. Linebacker depth is shaky and leaders have to emerge to replace Bruce Miller and Derek Hallman. They also need somebody to step up at receiver to help Godfrey out. Unlike last season, most of the toughest conference games are on the road -- at Southern Miss, East Carolina and SMU. The Knights also have to play Tulsa, but at least that game is at home. As for the nonconference schedule, BYU is expected to be much better this season, and FIU is no longer a laughingstock. Only one AQ team is on the schedule, but UCF is 3-45 against teams from automatic qualifying conferences since it moved up to FBS in 1996.