This edition of Know Your Enemy focuses on Ohio State's Week 2 opponent, the University of Central Florida Knights. Because UCF plays in a pretend conference, you may not know a whole lot about them, so once again I've broken everything down, FAQ style, to make things easier for y'all.
Q: Oh boy, I LOVE UCF! If you need ice cream at 2 AM, there is no better option. I didn't know they had a football team though?
A: That's because they don't. You're thinking of UDF. UCF is a college in Florida. Common mistake.
Q: Oh, that sounds way less delicious. Well, what's UCF then?
A: UCF stands for the University of Central Florida, located in scenic Orlando. It's a fairly new school, so you can be excused for not knowing a whole lot about it. It opened in 1968 as the Florida Institute of Technology, with the goal of supporting all the space-agey stuff at the Kennedy Space Center. The school wanted to be known for more than just rocket science, though, and in 1978 changed their name to UCF. Like many schools trying to raise their general profile, UCF promptly started a football team ('Murica!). They joined then Division 1A (FBS, ugh) in 1996, and have been competing in Conference USA since 2005. Like half of the country, they will be joining the zombie Big East in 2013, so buy all your UCF CONFERENCE USA memorabilia while you still can.Q: Cool. Whats their mascot?
A: UCF's sports teams are called the Knights. Their mascot's name is Knightro (which sounds conspicuously like 'Nightbro'), and he is pure nightmare fuel.
Q: Gah! Get that thing off my computer screen. Does UCF have any famous alumni?
A: As far as the non-athlete population is concerned, there isn't much besides Daniel Tosh (l-o-l). For being a fairly new program though, UCF has produced some quality football players. Dante Culpepper is probably the most famous name, but other former Knights in the NFL include Brandon Marshall, Asante Samuel, Kevin Smith (the running back, not the director of Clerks), and Mike Sims-Walker.
Q: So were these guys any good last year?
A: If you look at just their win-loss record, then no. Even though they were picked to be in contention for the CUSA title, the Knights went just 5-7. Their best win was a 16-6 victory over Marshall, who finished #74th in the country. They also manged to lose to UAB, one of the worst teams in the country last year.
It wasn't all bad though. UCF struggled with injuries, poor offensive chemistry, and just plain bad luck. They lost by only a touchdown to a pretty alright BYU team at Provo. They dropped an away game at top 25 Southern Miss by a point. They fell by only a score to Tulsa and Florida International. The only time they were truly beaten down was by SMU. A turnover here, a first down there, and UCF goes bowling last year.
Q: Hey, we know a thing or two about being unlucky. What should we be looking for this year?
A: Last year, UCF's calling card was their defense. They return 7 starters from a squad that only gave up 20 points per game, good for 16th in the country. The Knights were particularly stout against the run, giving up 115 yards a game...but they lost two of their D linemen, and they didn't face a backfield anywhere near as strong as the Buckeyes.
On offense, UCF will mix in former Miami Hurricane Storm Johnson (the storm sailed north, amirite) with an already productive RB tandem of Brynn Harvey and Latavius Murray. The Knights should have one of the best 3-deeps in all of mid-major football at RB, along with an experienced Offensive Line. They'll certainly need all of them firing against Ohio State, especially with an somewhat uncertain WR situation.
Q: What are UCF's bowl prospects?
A: They certainly have a challenging out of conference slate. UCF opens with Terry Bowden and Akron, whom they should be able to comfortably handle. After OSU, UCF gets home dates with Florida International and Missouri. 3-1 would be outstanding for the Knights, but I think they would be happy with going 2-2.
The conference schedule opens up rather nicely for UCF though. They get Southern Miss, East Carolina and fellow future CUSA-to-Big East expats SMU all at home. Tulsa looks to be the only tough road game. CUSA be crazy tho, so UCF could easily beat Southern Miss, ECU, and SMU, then get blown out by UTEP or something. Even if we allow for a random conference loss though, UCF stands a great chance to not only compete for a bowl game, but be in the mix for the illustrious CUSA title.
Q: Are we going to win?
A: This game does have a little bit of a trap game risk, with Cal on the schedule for next week, and with UCF having a stout running game. The Buckeyes may find themselves in a close game early on, but the Knights aren't built to score points in a hurry. Ultimately, OSU should be able to pull away in the second half to win by a comfortable margin. Losing this game would obviously be a colossal disappointment at that point in the young season for Urban Meyer's inaugural group of Buckeyes.