Nov. 19, 2005
UCF at Rice
November 19, 2005
UCF 31 Rice 28
UCF claimed the East Division of Conference USA with a 31-28 victory at Rice, finishing the regular season with an 8-3 record overall and a 7-1 mark in its first season in Conference USA. Steven Moffett (Winter Park, Fla./Winter Park) hit Brandon Marshall (Winter Park, Fla./Lake Howell) on an 18-yard touchdown pass with 1:25 remaining in the fourth quarter and cornerback Joe Burnett (Eustis, Fla./Eustis) sealed the game with an interception as Rice was marching into UCF territory.
With the win, UCF now has the largest win differential in the NCAA in 2005 with +8 victories. The eight-win turnaround is also the largest in Conference USA history.
UCF is the first team in NCAA history to record a five-game winning streak a year after going winless. The five-game winning streak is tied for the longest streak in UCF's Division I-A history. The 1998 team also won five consecutive games en route to a 9-2 record.
The Golden Knights captured their eighth win of the season, becoming just the second UCF team in the school's Division I-A history to reach the eight-win plateau. The last UCF team to win at least eight games was the 1998 team (9-2).
UCF is now tied for second among the most improved teams in NCAA history. The Golden Knights are tied with Stanford (1940) with an eight-game differential in the NCAA record books. Hawaii (1999) holds the NCAA record with an 8.5 game turnaround.
UCF is the first team in NCAA history to reach a conference championship game a year after going winless. The Golden Knights will face either UTEP or Tulsa in the Conference USA Football Championship game December 3 at a site to be determined.
UCF scored for the fifth time this season on its opening drive. Senior PK Matt Prater (Estero, Fla./Estero) booted a 37-yard field goal to give the Golden Knights a 3-0 lead.
UCF overcame its largest halftime deficit of the season (12 points) for its first win of the year when trailing at halftime. The Golden Knights were 0-3 in 2005 when trailing at the break before rallying for the 31-28 victory against the Owls.
With freshman SS Jason Venson's (Marietta, Ga./Marietta) fourth quarter interception, UCF has at least one interception in nine straight games to tie a school record. The Golden Knights have 18 interceptions over the nine-game streak. The 2000 team also had an interception in nine straight games. Venson's interception set up UCF's winning touchdown.
Junior TB Jason Peters (Seattle, Wash./Evergreen) scored on a 27-yard touchdown on the first play of the fourth quarter to give UCF a 22-21 lead. After a two-point conversion, the Golden Knights led 24-21. UCF has outscored the opposition 108-50 in the fourth quarter in 2005. It's the second consecutive week UCF has overcome a fourth-quarter deficit to win.
Freshman OLB Cory Hogue (Naples, Fla./Naples), junior P Aaron Horne (Miami, Fla./Palmetto) and sophomore WR Blake Carter (Cincinnati, Ohio/Moeller) did not make the trip to Rice. The three were suspended for the game by head coach George O'Leary for a violation of team policy.
Sophomore LB Randy Dozier (Orlando, Fla./Olympia) made his first career start for the Golden Knights. He is the 46th player on the roster with at least one game of starting experience.
Freshman CB/PR Joe Burnett returned Rice's first punt of the game 58 yards for a touchdown. It marked Burnett's first punt return for a touchdown of his career and the first by a Golden Knight since Tavaris Capers' 54-yard punt return for a touchdown at Penn State (Sept. 18, 2004).
Junior WR Mike Walker (Orlando, Fla./Edgewater) hauled in a 26-yard pass for his ninth touchdown reception of the season. Walker is in sole possession of eighth place in UCF single-season history with the nine touchdown catches.