Finally, a little bit of positive National recognition. College Gameday is coming to UCF! Despite all of the negative noise surrounding the Knights, ESPN has decided to jump on the positive side of the historic win streak and visit Orlando for the show’s first time.
The Hype is Real
Whether or not you believe the Knights are deserving of their ranking, playoff hype, or anything along those lines, it’s hard to deny that this is big for UCF. Orlando’s hometown team will be featured all across the nation, as many tune into College Gameday to start off their weekend. Some may say the show should’ve gone to 12 Syracuse vs. 3 Notre Dame at Yankee Stadium for a multitude of reasons. Instead, the show chose to come to the only other ranked vs. ranked matchup, with Cincinnati checking in at 24 in the college football playoff rankings. Convenient how that happened just in time, huh?
It’s interesting that College Gameday decided to come to Orlando after throwing them under the bus one week. Kirk Herbstreit pretty much said there are bunch of other schools that are better and more deserving “on paper” than the Knights. Luckily at UCF we play our games on a field with a packed bounce house surrounding it.
What does this weekend mean?
This weekend isn’t about the rankings or any of that outside noise though. In Orlando, it will be a celebration of everything that has occurred to this point. Whether it be the growing name brand, the celebration of a successful draft class in the NFL this season, or the 22 consecutive victories, everyone on campus will be rejoicing. Who would have thought after not winning a single game in 2015 that college football’s most prestigious show would set up right in the heart of UCF’s campus?
What is unfolding is truly amazing. This weekend is shaking out to be the biggest weekend in the history of UCF football. Not just with all the activity coming to campus, but in the grand scheme of things. To start, this game is the most important of the season, as a victory by the black and gold would secure the AAC East Division and guarantee the Knights host a conference championship game for the second year in a row.
What does a UCF win mean?
Not to count chickens before they hatch, but if the Knights take care of business on primetime they would have a shot to win another AAC Championship. This is the sixth season the AAC has been in existence, and the Knights are seeking the conference crown for the fourth time. They won the inaugural championship in 2013, split the title three ways in 2014, and then obviously brought the 2017 title back to Orlando after a perfect National Championship season. This would also more than likely set up their third New Year’s Six bowl game appearance in the last six seasons, a statistic that I’m not sure another school can boast about.
The Knights are clearly dominating the AAC in football, as they have 56 wins in the conference on the gridiron since its inception. The next closest team is Houston with 29 conference wins. This situation gives UCF a legitimate argument to become a part of a power five conference if they so choose. Obviously, it is not as easy as that but it certainly opens new doors and opportunities for further down the road.
What could happen
With all of this said, stop for a minute and think. What if Danny White, UCF’s athletic director, had not stepped onto the field at the Peach Bowl and declared UCF national champions? If I’m being honest, I don’t think we would be anywhere near this point.
Saturday, November 17, 2018 will be a stepping stone and a milestone in the school’s history. A win would help much more than a loss, but regardless of the outcome on the football field this night could mean a lot. If indeed the Knights eventually get out of the AAC down the road and get big TV deal money like other “power five” schools for every athletic program, they can all turn back to this point.
Momentum is favoring the Knights as the university charges onto the national stage more now than ever. While UCF students, faculty, athletes and alum have been part of some major growth over the last year, I believe Saturday will accelerate that growth as fast as a runaway train.