Football on the Fringe Season Previews were ranked, then delivered in random order.
First, a disclaimer: UCF is my Alma Mater, I live four miles from the campus, and attend as many games as I can each year. I am undoubtedly biased, although often in the too-negative direction on account of being too close. So there.
Now then, the University of Central Florida Knights followed a win-then-lose pattern for the first half of the season until they broke the pattern with a last second win over Marshall. Texas stomped them, but recovered by shocking then #12 Houston, who had lost only once to that point. The Knights finished second in Conference USA East, and went on to lose to Rutgers in the St. Petersburg Bowl.
2010 is a year of promise for UCF, but, as usual, a question mark hangs over the quarterback position. Junior QB Rob Calabrese is hoping it’s finally his time in the spotlight, but freshman Jeffrey Godfrey is considered perhaps UCF’s most promising recruit- ever- and the position is still up for grabs. Otherwise, 8 offensive starters join 7 returnees on the defensive side for a team that should be ready to compete in the division.
9/4/2010 South Dakota
9/11/2010 NC State
9/18/2010 at Buffalo
9/25/2010 at Kansas State
10/13/2010 at Marshall
10/30/2010 East Carolina
11/5/2010 at Houston
11/13/2010 Southern Miss
11/20/2010 at Tulane
11/27/2010 at Memphis
The schedule this year is one for UCF to be excited about. A 1-AA opener, two mid-level BCS teams, and an old MAC foe provide a nice balance out of conference, while they get rivals Southern Miss and East Carolina at home. The road game at Houston may be the biggest challenge, depending on what kind of teams Kansas State and NC State have.
George O’Leary starts his seventh season at UCF, and may have saved his job by getting the team to a bowl last year. If the team should underperform this year, calls for his seat will be loud again.
Conference USA does not release a preseason poll, but UCF did receive one vote in the AP Preseason Poll (from a writer in Iowa. Go figure. See, I know too much about UCF).
This is the part where it’s impossible for me to be objective. O’Leary’s reputation for bringing up quarterbacks, especially in the first half of the year, is atrocious. Also, he openly shows his disdain for nonconference games, not wanting to show all his cards before conference play, or something. So it’s hard to imagine the team beating both KSU and NC State, even if they might have the talent. The division is never easy- since realignment in 2005, nobody has gone undefeated in conference play. All this to say that I think UCF should have at least a 9 win season, and should be the team to beat in the East.
UCFSports.com – Rivals message board
Orlando Sentinel – Local coverage of the Knights