Bounce House Stadium home of Central Florida Knights football (courtesy ucfknights.com)
The UCF Knights football team represents the University of Central Florida (UCF) in the sport of American football. The Knights compete in the Division I Football Bowl Subdivision (FBS) of the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) and the East Division of the American Athletic Conference (The American). Their current head coach is Josh Heupel, formerly a player and coach at Oklahoma and offensive coordinator at Missouri. The Knights play their home games at the 44,206-seat Bounce House, which is located on UCF’s main campus in Orlando, Florida, United States.
UCF first fielded a varsity football team in the fall of 1979 as an NCAA Division III program and subsequently completed their ascension to Division I–A, now known as the Division I Football Bowl Subdivision (FBS), in 1996, becoming the only program in NCAA history to have played in all four divisions of football. As a Division I–AA program, the Knights made the 1990 and 1993 playoffs, and were picked as the preseason No. 1 team to start the 1994 season.
As of 2019, UCF has compiled 259 victories, six division titles, six conference championships, and an undefeated season in 2017. The Knights have a national championship for the 2017 season despite being excluded from that season’s College Football Playoff.
The Knights have made ten postseason appearances since joining the FBS, including winning two major bowls: the 2014 Fiesta Bowl and the 2018 Peach Bowl. The program has produced one Consensus All-American, Kevin Smith in 2007, and three Heisman Trophy candidates, Daunte Culpepper (QB) in 1998, Kevin Smith (RB) in 2007, and McKenzie Milton (QB) in 2017 and 2018. UCF has produced a long line of accomplished NFL players, including Blake Bortles, A.J. Bouye, Kemal Ishmael, Brandon Marshall, Matt Prater, Asante Samuel, and Mike Sims-Walker. UCF has had four first-round picks in the NFL Draft, players in 14 Super Bowls, and seven pro-bowlers. The Knights’ main rivals are the South Florida Bulls.
Under head coach Scott Frost, the 2017 Knights completed a 13–0 perfect season. The Knights were not selected for the College Football Playoff, instead completing their season with a New Years Day win in the 2018 Peach Bowl over the Auburn Tigers. On January 7, 2018, the day before the CFP championship game, UCF athletic director Danny White stated that UCF would claim the 2017 national championship, hang a national title banner, and hold a national championship parade and celebration. On January 9, 2018, the Colley Matrix, an algorithm formerly used as part of the BCS computer rankings, ranked UCF No. 1. All other NCAA-designated major selectors named Alabama as their 2017 national champion.
Under George O’Leary’s leadership, the Knights won four C-USA Eastern Division Championships (2005, 2007, 2010, 2012), and two Conference USA Championships (2007, 2010). O’Leary also led the Knights to The American conference championship in their first year in the league (2013), earning the conference’s automatic berth to a BCS bowl game. In 2014, the Knights clinched back-to-back conference championships. The Knights won The American conference championship in 2017 under head coach Scott Frost, and again in 2018 under head coach Josh Heupel for the program’s second set of back-to-back conference titles.
UCF made four appearances in the Conference USA Championship Game, more than any other C-USA school, with the last being in 2012. Three of the four appearances were against Tulsa of the Western Division. The Knights won two of the four C-USA Championship Games in which they appeared.
UCF has had 11 head coaches since organized football began in 1979. Gene McDowell, George O’Leary, and Scott Frost have led the Knights to the postseason. O’Leary and Frost are the only coaches to win a division or conference championship at the school. Before leading UCF in 1983 and 1984, Lou Saban was a head coach in both the American Football League (AFL) and the National Football League (NFL). O’Leary also coached in the NFL between 2002 and 2004.
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