Since George O'Leary became the head coach at UCF (8-2, 6-0) he's taken the Knights to three C-USA Championship games and won two. The longtime head coach would like to take the Knights to another Conference USA Championship game in the squad's final season in C-USA. The Knights have a chance to do that this week against the Tulsa Golden Hurricane (8-2, 6-0).
A win will not only clinch the Conference USA East Division for the Knights, but it will also clinch home field advantage in the conference championship game.
"I think it's a big game because it's the next game and the players probably understand that," O'Leary said during his weekly news conference. "This group of kids probably understands it more than some other groups of kids that I've had."
"Basically it's another conference game, but it's what goes with it," O'Leary continued. "We both still have to win games to win the division. No one has secured that yet."
For the second week in a row, the Knights will travel out to the Midwest for a conference contest and will have the challenge of dealing with a time zone change and a change of environment. Last week, UCF came away with a 31-24 victory in El Paso against UTEP.
"I think anytime teams have to travel from west to east or east to west, about 30 percent of all of the teams win when you look at all of football," O'Leary said. "That's because of time change. That's because of distance. It's because of focus. A lot of things come into play."
O'Leary says he loves coaching in these types of games because these are the kind of matchups you train all season for. The ninth year UCF head coach says his team will have to bring its "A" game if the squad wants to accomplish its goals and continue its road to a conference championship.
"This game is basically going out and getting your job done in all three phases," O'Leary said. "I think practice so far this week has been one of the better weeks we've had as far as contact, speed and doing the things you need to do to prepare to win."