Can UCF finally beat a ranked P5 team at home?
Boy did we need that. A little slump buster never hurt anybody. Sometimes when you’re in a drought, while the universe feels like it’s against you, you have to go back to a familiar well to satiate your thirst and get things moving. It was fifty days since we last notched a game result in the proper column. While it wasn’t the prettiest win, it was a WIN. Eat shit Cincinnati. Also completely removed the Bearcats from bowl season consideration. Now we focus efforts on reaching a bowl ourselves and salvaging some semblance of a successful year in our Big 12 debut.
It’s fitting this week is our annual Space Game. Space is what Ollie Gordon II, a bona fide Heisman hopeful, will find once he breaks a tackle and feasts on the 127th-ranked rush defense in the country. That’s three removed from being the worst rush defense in the nation. The only three opponents remaining in their path on the road to Arlington: UCF, Houston and BYU who are collectively 5-13 in league play.
Cowboys looked dead in the water on September 16th when they lost at home to South Alabama 7-33. That same day we vilified Villanova in front of a raucous night crowd with Timmy McClain at the helm, 3-0 and eager to head into conference play. At that exact moment, we each had very different expectations of how our seasons would turn out. We will share the same field next Saturday, with the Cowboys hitting the trail to Orlando ranked #15 in the latest CFP rankings. It’s amazing how fast a season can turn on you. My curiosity led me to look at when was the last time we hosted a ranked opponent at The Bounce House. Ironically enough, it was #20 Cincinnati in 2022, last year for homecoming. I think that’s the last time I felt true happiness watching my alma mater at home when the clock reached zero.
The numbers are not so great. Since 2007 (inaugural Bounce House year) UCF is 4-6 for wins against ranked opponents when they come to Orlando. Those ranked wins were all against G5 foes, but each had serious juice in building our program:
2022 #20 Cincinnati Breaks the Bearcats 19-game conference win streak, Malzahn’s first ranked win at UCF
2018 #24 Cincinnati College Gameday on campus and the win streak continues
2017 #20 Memphis Caps off undefeated season in the AAC Championship Game
2008 #15 Houston First win over a ranked opponent in program history
We have never beaten a ranked Power Five opponent at home.
Losses were when we opened up the stadium with #6 Texas, OT thriller loss to the #17 cows in 2008, #9 Miami (FL) later that year, 2013 #12 South Carolina.
Lost to #21 Houston in our winless season in 2015, and Dillon Gabriel facilitated a 3-point loss to #8 Cincinnati during the pandemic.
This season has had its arc, and while disappointing, there is still the opportunity for postseason play. The sneaky benefit of making a bowl is fifteen extra practices as well as a refreshed surge for an ironclad recruiting class and something for donors to lasso onto for momentum headed into 2024. It would be great to have some cushion headed into Lubbock on November 18th, without a Do-or-Die scenario for six wins on the season looming. Do I think it’s likely we win this weekend? I don’t know. We’re certainly capable. I’ve seen flashes. But like a shooting star in the night sky, fleeting.
We are 6-0 in Space Games but that was against vastly inferior competition. Mike Gundy is a damn good coach. The final Bedlam was his 100th career Big 12 win. Gus Malzahn is going for his 100th win all time this Saturday. Something has to give for us this season. Vegas put this line a lot lower than I had expected. I wish I would have done the same with my preseason expectations.
I’ve always appreciated the Pokes program and I’m excited to host them. They know a thing or two about claiming national championships. In 2016, the American Football Coaches Association (AFCA), the organization responsible for the Coaches Poll, awarded Oklahoma A&M its 1945 national championship. The AFCA created a commission considering applications for national title consideration for years spanning 1922 to 1949. OSU was at the time the only school to apply for the honor for any of the 28 years considered.
College football is the absolute best.
The Cowboys went undefeated that year capping a 9-0 season with a win against Saint Mary’s (CA) in the Sugar Bowl. Their only ranked win that regular season?
The #19 Tulsa Golden Hurricanes in a tight 12-6 bout in front of 18,000.
Funny that a season later when that decision was made, we went on an undefeated run and claimed our own Colley Matrix verified national title in 2017. Oklahoma State doesn’t claim a title for their 2011 season where they got snagged on the road in Ames and finished 12-1. Alabama won the title that year. 1945 still holds as their only claimed championship even though the 2011 Colley Matrix says the Cowboys were the #1 team in the country.
How can you not be romantic about this sport?
Let’s get the juice back in The Bounce House this Saturday. It’s been missing this entire year. They say that the Oklahoma sky at night is the blackest over Boone Pickens Stadium.
Let’s make East Orlando a black hole for our friends from the plains. What a season flip this would be if we can pull it off and play a little spoiler to a legacy Big 12 team’s conference championship aspirations. Personal mojo switch for this game too. I will not be in attendance. Which means we will probably win. I’m fine with that.
And you know what? If Ollie Gordon II runs free this Saturday, his Heisman campaign highlight reel in New York will look like he dominated UNC-Chapel Hill.
‘Til next time, take care of yourself and each other.