UCF President Trevor Colbourn announces that he is "going to explore the possibility of developing a football program at UCF" during his inaugural address Jan. 15. President Colbourn and Athletics Director Jack O'Leary approve a decision to form a football team to begin play in the fall as part of NCAA Division III.
Don Jonas, former professional football player and Orlando dignitary, becomes UCF's first football coach on a volunteer basis.
More than $40,000 is raised during a one-day blitz of area businesses by the Orlando Chamber of Commerce Sports Committee, June 13. This amount, along with money raised at a luncheon hosted by Sen. George Stuart, gives UCF enough funds to start its first football season.
The first schedule is officially announced June 14, featuring eight games, including the Sept. 22 opener at St. Leo. Season tickets go on sale July 12. The price for the four-game package is $13, with single game tickets available for $4 each.
148 prospective players turn out for the first football practice on August 28. All the players bring their own shoes, shirt and shorts and pay $14 a day for room and board to stay in the dorms.
Athletics Director Jack O'Leary signs an agreement with the City of Orlando allowing UCF to play all of its home games in the Tangerine Bowl.
UCF travels to St. Leo College for its first game and wins 21-0 in a downpour on a rain-soaked cow pasture turned football field. Bobby Joe Plain scores UCF's first touchdown on a 13-yard pass reception from Mike Cullison in the first quarter. Cullison registers UCF's first rushing touchdown on a 2-yard plunge in the second quarter and Mike Stapp becomes the first to rush for more than 100 yards when he finishes the game with 101.
UCF plays its first home game. A crowd of 14,138 shows up to watch UCF defeat Fort Benning 7-6.
UCF goes on to finish the season 6-2, and sets an NCAA Division III record for attendance with an average of 11,240 in what was then known as the Tangerine Bowl.
Plain leads the team with 308 receiving yards and five touchdowns on the year, while Stapp rushes for 444 yards and two touchdowns. Cullison passes for 904 yards and eight touchdowns.
The UCF Athletic Authority votes in January to make the football head coaching job a full-time paid position. After a search, Don Jonas, who had been serving in that capacity as a volunteer, is named coach in March.
UCF announces an agreement has been reached allowing 103.1 FM WLOQ to air every football game for the season.
Practice for year two begins Aug. 21, with 197 players trying out for the squad.
Carson-Newman's Van Williams rushes for 214 yards in the Eagles' 30-21 season-opening victory against the Knights but is later declared ineligible, and Carson-Newman forfeits the victory.
UCF and Miles trade safeties in an 11-11 tie, the only tie on record for the Knights.
The Knights score 18 points in the fourth quarter to defeat Emory and Henry 18-14 in the final game of the season to finish with a 3-5-1 record.
Tim Kiggins earns third-team All-America honors and becomes the first UCF player to sign with a professional team when he is picked up by the Toronto Argonauts of the Canadian Football League.
Mike Stapp again leads the team in rushing on the year with 319 yards. Mike Cullison passes for 1,039 yards and 10 touchdowns, and Jeff Froehlich leads all receivers with 26 catches for 275 yards and three touchdowns.
UCF upsets Millsaps 13-6 in Jackson, Miss., on Sept. 26, for its first victory of the season, snapping Millsaps' 13-game winning streak.
UCF turns the ball over four times and falls to Presbyterian 3-0 in the lowest scoring game in school history.
Kicker Scott Ryerson leads the team with 62 points and is named a third-team All-American, while center Dan Burke, and linebackers Eddie James and Bill Giovanetti earn honorable mention All-America honors. James leads the squad with 116 tackles, while Giovanetti records 104 and ties Bruce Gordon for the team lead in interceptions with four.
UCF and Bethune-Cookman play in the first annual Mayor's Trophy game.
UCF finishes 4-6 in its final year as a Division III member, narrowly falling short of upsetting Division I-AA Bethune-Cookman in the season finale, losing 24-20. It's the final game for coach Don Jonas who steps down and later becomes director of the UCF Gridiron Club.
Former Florida State and Houston Oiler coach Bill Peterson is named Athletics Director at UCF.
Peterson names Sam Weir, who joined the staff as associate head coach in 1981, as interim head coach.
With an eye toward eventually playing major college football, UCF moves up to Division II.
James Carlies, the starting quarterback at Groveland High School, becomes the first UCF scholarship recipient since the move to Division II allows the awarding of scholarships.
UCF begins its first season at the Division II level with a 16-9 loss to Georgia Southern in Jacksonville's Gator Bowl.
Playing a schedule that includes several top-20 I-AA teams, UCF goes 0-10, including a 26-14 season-ending loss to eventual I-AA national champion Eastern Kentucky. Coach Weir announces with two games left in the season that he will not seek the coaching post in 1983.
Four players sign to play professionally: Mike Carter with the Denver Broncos, Ed Gantner, Bill Giovanetti and Mike Sommerfield with the Tampa Bay Bandits of the United States Football League.
New York Yankees president and former head coach of the Buffalo Bills Lou Saban is named head coach on Dec. 23.
UCF conducts its first spring practice March 11, culminating with a Black & Gold intrasquad scrimmage April 2.
Athletics Director Bill Peterson announces June 2 that UCF has petitioned the NCAA to move up to Division I-AA a year earlier than planned, the fall of 1984, rather than 1985. (Due to enormous debt incurred by the department, the move does not take place until 1990.)
Season Ticket prices are announced at $27 for six games or fans can buy a Fourth and One package which includes four season tickets and one reserved ticket to the Citrus Bowl.
The team opens the season with back-to-back wins against Elizabeth City 37-7 and Georgia Southern 33-29 and finishes with a 5-6 record.
UCF goes on the road Oct. 29 and records its first win against a I-AA opponent when it defeats Austin Peay 10-7. Scott Ryerson provides the winning margin with a 50-yard field goal in the second quarter.
Ted Wilson returns a kick 100 yards for a touchdown against Southeastern Louisiana and finishes second in the nation in kick return average with 30.5 yards per return.
UCF scores a school-record 31 points in the second quarter against Fort Lewis.
Darryl Rudd sets a school record with 150 tackles and also tallies a team-high seven sacks. Elgin Davis leads the team in rushing with 786 yards and nine touchdowns, while Dana Thyhsen passes for 2,058 yards and 19 touchdowns.
The squad struggles to a 1-6 start and Saban announces his resignation.
Jerry Anderson is named interim coach and the team defeats Illinois State at home before dropping its final three games to finish the season 2-9.
Dan Burke signs with the New Jersey Generals of United States Football League. Scott Ryerson is drafted by the Tampa Bay Bandits of the USFL and signs as a free agent with the Atlanta Falcons.
Florida State assistant coach and FSU's first All-American, Gene McDowell, takes over the helm of the UCF football program and also assumes the role of athletics director. He is given the task of running a football team as well as the entire athletics department while trying to retire more than a million dollars of departmental debt.
Former Pittsburgh Steeler Mike Kruczek is hired as UCF's offensive coordinator, a position he would hold for 13 years before taking over as head coach.
McDowell announces his first signing class, including future All-American receiver Bernard Ford.
UCF wins its first game under McDowell when Eddie O'Brien kicks a school-record 55-yard field goal as time expires to defeat Bethune-Cookman, 39-37, Sept. 7.
The squad wins its second game and then proceeds to drop seven straight before winning its last two to finish 4-7.
UCF plays its first I-A opponent when it travels to Louisville on Nov. 2. Ted Wilson catches seven passes for 112 yards and one touchdown in the 41-21 loss.
Ted Wilson catches 76 passes for 1,119 yards and 12 touchdowns on the year, while Aaron Sam carries the ball 128 times for 545 yards and six touchdowns.
Under Gene McDowell's direction, the team wins four of its first five games, including the opener against Bethune-Cookman in front of a record crowd of 23,041 fans.
UCF sets a new attendance mark later in the season when 23,760 show up to watch UCF play Wofford in a homecoming contest, and then stay for a concert with the Beach Boys afterward. Wofford wins 31-28.
A 66-7 trouncing of Samford in the season-finale gives UCF a 6-5 record and its first winning season since the inaugural campaign in 1979.
Orlando businessman and philanthropist Wayne Densch gives the athletics department a $1 million gift.
Elgin Davis (118) and Aaron Sam (117) become the first UCF tandem to rush for more than 100 yards in a game as UCF sets a school-record with 448 yards on the ground against Samford.
Wyatt Bogan leads the team with 143 tackles on the year and earns Football News first-team All-America honors.
Ted Wilson becomes the first UCF football player drafted by a National Football League team when the Washington Redskins select him in the 10th round.
Elgin Davis is picked in the 12th round by the New England Patriots, while Aaron Sam signs with the Cleveland Browns as a free agent.
The Knights run off a school-record five-game winning streak, all at home, during the middle portion of the season. During that stretch UCF outscores its opponents 242-67.
UCF finishes the regular season with an 8-3 record, good enough for its first bid to the Division II playoffs.
UCF knocks off visiting Indiana University of Pennsylvania 12-10 in the first round of the playoffs.
UCF loses in the semifinals 31-10 at home to eventual national champion Troy and finishes with a 9-4 record.
Bernard Ford and Ed O'Brien are each honored with first-team All-America laurels by Kodak and Football News and are also named to the Associated Press Little All-America team.
Darin Slack and Mike Coad earn Football News second-team All-America Honors.
Slack becomes the first in school history to throw for more than 3,000 yards in a season when he completes 219 passes for 3,054 yards and a record 26 touchdowns.
Ford is drafted in the third round by the Buffalo Bills and Corris Ervin is selected in the fifth round by the Denver Broncos. Ian Patterson signs with Seattle and Keenan Wimbley with the New York Giants, both as free agents.
UCF charges out of the gate with five straight wins and vaults to second in the national rankings in Division II.
A record crowd of 31,789 turns out at the Citrus Bowl to watch UCF beat defending national champion Troy 26-18. In the process, UCF is flagged for delay of game because Troy complains about excessive crowd noise.
UCF climbs to the No. 2 spot in the Division II poll and remains there for three weeks after knocking off top-ranked Troy.
The team loses its final four games to finish 6-5 and misses a return trip to the playoffs.
Shane Willis throws for nearly 3,000 yards, completing 239 passes for 2,926 yards and 13 touchdowns. Sean Beckton is on the receiving end of 74 of those passes for 1,030 yards and five touchdowns.
Wyatt Bogan returns from a foot injury that caused him to miss the 1987 season and leads the team with 127 tackles.
Dave Underwood and Steve Spears earn Football Gazette All-America honors.
In its final season at the NCAA Division II level before moving up, UCF defeats three I-AA schools.
Rudy Jones ignites a fourth-quarter rally with touchdown passes to Mike Dickinson and Sean Beckton to give UCF a 20-19 victory against nationally-ranked I-AA power Eastern Kentucky.
The team finishes the season strong, winning six of its final seven games to finish 7-3 and post its fourth consecutive winning season.
Parnell McCall signs as a free agent contract with the Miami Dolphins.
UCF makes a long-awaited move to NCAA Division I-AA and proves up to the task, going 10-4 and becoming the first school in history to qualify for the I-AA playoffs in its first season of eligibility. Not content just to qualify, UCF advances all the way to the semifinals.
In his final regular season game at UCF, Sean Beckton goes out with a bang, throwing a 33-yard touchdown pass to Shawn Jefferson, running 11 yards on a reverse for a touchdown, catching a 17-yard touchdown pass and returning a punt 60 yards for a touchdown in a 63-6 victory against Texas Southern in Orlando, Nov. 17.
UCF draws previously undefeated Youngstown State in the first round of the playoffs and has to travel to frigid Youngstown, Ohio. Franco Grilla kicks a 34-yard field goal as time expires to lift UCF to a 20-17 victory over the Penguins on the turf at Stambaugh Stadium.
UCF returns home to down William & Mary 52-38 in a shootout in front of 20,067 to earn a spot in the semifinals. Sean Beckton catches two touchdown passes and throws another in the victory.
The team's hopes for a national championship are derailed in Statesboro, Ga., when Georgia Southern, the eventual champion, scores 35 unanswered points in the second half to take a 44-7 victory.
Gene McDowell is awarded the Eddie Robinson Trophy by the Sports Network as NCAA I-AA Coach of the Year.
Jefferson is drafted in the ninth round by the Houston Oilers. Beckton signs with the Chicago Bears and Ray Irvin with the Cleveland Browns, both as free agents. Brian Covington signs with Orlando of the World League of American Football.
UCF opens the season by scoring 21 unanswered second-half points en route to defeating visiting Troy 21-10. Mike Dickinson gives UCF the lead on a school-record 86-yard punt return for touchdown in the third quarter.
The Knights host their first I-A opponent in the Citrus Bowl, losing to East Carolina 47-25 in front of 20,049. Despite the loss, UCF racks up 497 yards in total offense.
Willie English sets a school record with 242 yards rushing against Arkansas State and becomes the first in school history to top the 1,000-yard plateau in a season. He finishes the year with 1,338 yards and 13 touchdowns on 236 carries, rushing for more than 100 yards in nine of the 11 games.
A 6-5 record gives UCF its sixth consecutive winning season.
Dickinson sets a school record with three punt returns for touchdowns on the year.
Bobby Spitulski is named a third-team Associated Press All-American and is drafted in the third round by the Seattle Seahawks, their second overall selection. Eric Buckley signs with the Los Angeles Rams as a free agent.
Preseason All-American Willie English suffers a season-ending knee injury in the opening quarter of the first game. Despite the loss of English, UCF sets a school-record with 461 yards rushing, including 189 from Richard Blake and 151 from Gerod Davis en route to a 71-21 thrashing of Gardner-Webb.
UCF President John Hitt announces UCF's intention to move to Division I-A by 1996.
UCF makes history as the first college team to play a Russian football team on American soil as it defeats the Moscow Bears of the Russian League of American Football 42-6, Oct. 3. UCF catches its visitors off guard with a reverse on the kickoff which Robert Alexander runs back 80 yards for a touchdown. The exhibition game fills a void left by a late game cancellation.
Linebacker Rick Hamilton sets a school record with a 97-yard interception return for a touchdown at Western Illinois in a 35-22 win.
Davis becomes the first freshman at UCF to rush for more than 1,000 yards when he gains 1,154 yards and scores 10 touchdowns on 183 carries.
UCF sets a school record with an average of 478.8 yards of total offense per game and finishes fifth in the nation in scoring with 37.3 points per game.
The Knights win two of their last three games and post their seventh consecutive winning season with a 6-4 record.
Hamilton leads the team with 149 tackles and leaves the school as the all-time leader in that category with 443 total stops. He becomes the school's third third-round draft pick when he is selected by the Washington Redskins.
Gene McDowell relinquishes his duties as athletics director to concentrate his efforts on coaching the football team.
Former Alabama standout quarterback and Bear Bryant assistant Steve Sloan comes to UCF as the athletics director.
UCF wins six of its first seven games with the only loss coming at the hands of I-A East Carolina.
A crowd of 23,489 shows up to see UCF play host to Yale on Oct. 2. The Knights rally from a 28-21 fourth-quarter deficit to post a 42-28 victory. Richard Blake seals the victory with a 42-yard interception return for touchdown with two seconds remaining.
Willie English rushes for 137 yards and a touchdown on 20 carries as UCF wins its first game against a I-A team, a 38-16 triumph at Louisiana Tech Nov. 20.
UCF wins three of its final four games to finish the regular season with a 9-2 mark and earns a berth in the I-AA playoffs.
The Golden Knights travel to Youngstown State in the opening round of the playoffs and lose to the host Penguins 56-30, despite David Rhodes' 220-yard, three-touchdown performance on 12 receptions.
Rhodes sets school records with 78 receptions and 12 touchdowns on the year, earning consensus All-America honors.
Led by Greg Jefferson's 15 and Emil Ekiyor's 11, UCF sets a school record with 56 sacks on the year.
English rushes for a team-high 848 yards and leaves as the school's all-time leading rusher with 3,131 yards and 38 touchdowns. He then signs with the Cincinnati Bengals as a free agent.
UCF begins the year as Sports Illustrated''s pick to win the I-AA national championship, but a rash of injuries on defense and one-point losses to Samford and Troy State as well as a three-point loss to I-A East Carolina take their toll as the Golden Knights narrowly miss qualifying for the playoffs.
A 7-4 record is good enough for the 20th spot in the final rankings and a ninth consecutive winning record.
Freshman Todd Cleveland returns the first two kicks of his career for touchdowns and ties an NCAA record later in the year with a third touchdown on a kick return. For his efforts he earns second-team Sports Network All-America honors as a kick returner.
Charlie Pierce kicks two fourth-quarter field goals to give UCF a 27-26 victory at Illinois State. Pierce finishes 14 of 16 on the year in field goal attempts and connects on all 47 PATs, good enough for first-team Sports Network All-America honors.
Darin Hinshaw rushes for two touchdowns and passes for a third and Marquette Smith gains 150 yards on the ground as UCF nets its second win against a I-A team, a 33-16 triumph at Louisiana-Monroe Oct. 15.
Hinshaw throws for 2,801 yards and 26 touchdowns on the year and becomes the school's, as well as the state's, all-time leading passer with 9,000 yards and 82 touchdowns.
David Rhodes catches 62 passes for 1,075 yards and 11 touchdowns on the year and becomes the school's, and the state's, all-time leading receiver with 3,618 yards and 29 touchdowns.
Travis Cooper leads the team with 109 tackles and Greg Jefferson records a team-high eight sacks. Both earn Sports Network honorable All-America mention honors along with Rhodes.
Shawn Jefferson, who last played at UCF in 1990, becomes the first former Golden Knight to play in the Super Bowl. He does so as a receiver for the San Diego Chargers.
Greg Jefferson is drafted in the third round by the Philadelphia Eagles while Hinshaw (Cleveland), Rhodes (Cincinnati), Mike Gruttadauria (Dallas), Ray Forsythe (Cincinnati), Cooper (Miami), Mark Whittemore (Miami) and Robert Alexander (Memphis, CFL) all sign as free agents.
UCF receives official word June 21 from the NCAA that its bid for reclassification to I-A has been approved and will take effect Sept. 1, 1996.
In its final season at the I-AA level, UCF posts a 6-5 mark against the nation's second-toughest schedule. The first four opponents are undefeated and nationally ranked at the time they matched up with UCF, including No. 1 rankings for Florida State (I-A) and McNeese State (I-AA) on back-to-back weekends. For the Knights it's their 10th consecutive winning season.
UCF starts the season with a bang by upsetting fifth-ranked (I-AA) Eastern Kentucky 40-32. Freshman quarterback Daunte Culpepper completes 20 of 25 passes, including his first 12, for 254 yards and three touchdowns en route to earning Sports Network Offensive Player of the Week honors. Culpepper's performance that week and in the ensuing weeks prompts numerous feature stories, including one on the front cover of the New York Times sports section.
A jubilant group of 6,000 UCF fans travels to Tallahassee to watch UCF take on top-ranked Florida State in front of a crowd of 76,600. Marquette Smith rushes for 121 yards, including a career-long 68-yard scamper, and two touchdowns against his former team. UCF puts up a fight, registering four fourth-down stops against the Seminoles before losing 46-14.
Smith earned Sports Network Offensive Player of the Week honors after a career-best 225 yard, three-touchdown performance against Louisiana-Monroe. He finishes with a single-season record of 1,511 yards and 14 touchdowns, earning second-team Football Gazette All-America honors, and becomes the first in school history to rush for 1,000 yards in a season twice.
Offensive lineman Chris Tabscott is named the Burger King National Scholar Athlete of the Week by the National Football Foundation and College Hall of Fame Sept. 30, and earns a $25,000 check for the school's general scholarship fund.
Smith is drafted in the fifth round by the Carolina Panthers and defensive end Emil Ekiyor signs with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers as a free agent.
UCF makes its long-awaited move to Division I-A and finishes the year with a respectable 5-6 record. The season is highlighted by some strong individual performances and punctuated by three consecutive wins to close the year.
Orlando Mayor Glenda Hood and the city council pass a special resolution declaring the week of Aug. 26, "UCF Golden Knight Football Week" in the City of Orlando.
Quarterback Daunte Culpepper passes for more than 2,500 yards and 19 touchdowns, including 1,008 yards and eight touchdowns in the final three games as the Golden Knights finish the season 16th in the nation in passing offense.
Culpepper's best game of the year comes against fellow first-year I-A member UAB at Legion Field in Birmingham, when he completes 24 of 36 passes for 421 yards and three touchdowns in the 35-13 win. He finishes the year ranked 18th in the country in total offense and 22nd in passing efficiency.
UCF comes of age and shows itself worthy of its I-A classification in a 27-20 loss to Georgia Tech at Grant Field in Atlanta, despite playing the entire second half without Culpepper who suffered a separated shoulder early in the game.
Mark Nonsant, who catches a team-high 60 passes for 925 yards and seven touchdowns proves to be Culpepper's favorite target. Todd Cleveland is not far behind with 59 receptions for 745 yards and six touchdowns.
UCF shows it's more than just an offensive power, fielding one of the nation's best linebacking units. Starters John Bryant, Nakia Reddick and Kendrick Thomas each register more than 100 tackles on the year.
Reddick signs with the Carolina Panthers as a free agent and Thomas signs with the New York Jets.
Shawn Jefferson (1988-90) makes his second appearance in the Super Bowl, this time as a receiver for the New England Patriots.
UCF finishes its second season at the I-A level with a 5-6 record and garners plenty of national media attention while making great strides toward establishing itself on the sport's highest level.
UCF earns the reputation of the underdog that refuses to back down, battling four teams from the Southeastern Conference as well as national champion Nebraska.
Although winless in its first three games (a one-point overtime loss at Ole Miss, a two-point loss at South Carolina and a two-touchdown loss at Nebraska, after leading 17-14 at the half) UCF has the national media touting it as the best 0-3 team in the country.
A record crowd of 41,827 turns out to see UCF's home-opener against Idaho and the Knights send the crowd home happy with a 41-10 victory. UCF treats its fans to a perfect 4-0 mark in the Citrus Bowl, including a 34-17 win against Toledo which comes to Orlando with a 9-1 record.
UCF finishes the year ranked No. 44 in the country in the Sagarin Computer Rankings.
Quarterback Daunte Culpepper has a great season and sets 15 school records. Most notably are his records for single-season passing and single-season total offense. He passes for 3,086 yards on the year with 25 touchdowns and finishes fourth in the nation in total offense with an average of 320 yards per game.
Culpepper is the recipient of numerous honors, including being named the People's Choice Award winner as the male amateur athlete of the year in the state of Florida. He is a finalist for the Davey O'Brien National Quarterback Award, a semifinalist for the Football News Offensive Player of the Year, and is named to the American Football Coaches Association 1997 Good Works Team for balancing academics and athletics and going above and beyond in the area of community service and volunteerism. He is also voted the United States Postal Service College Football Player of the Week after a win at Kent State.
Freshman tailback Dwight Collins, who is deaf, is the subject of numerous national broadcast and print stories about his triumph over disability and is given Disney's Wide World of Sports Spirit Award for being the nation's most courageous student-athlete. He is also selected as a recipient of the Giant Steps Award by the National Consortium for Academics and Sports which earns him a trip to the White House to meet President Bill Clinton.
Running backs coach Alan Gooch is named the Assistant Coach of the Year by the American Football Coaches Association for his work with Collins, earning a $5,000 scholarship for the school.
Defensive end Jermaine Benoit, who becomes only the second lineman in school history to record more than 100 tackles, receiver Siaha Burley, and kicker Fred Waczewski are all named to the Football News All-Independent team, while Waczewski is also named a semifinalist for the Lou Groza Award.
Burley finishes sixth in the nation in receptions per game (7) and 10th in the nation in yards per game (100.55) and ties a school record with 231 yards receiving against South Carolina.
Emory Green signs with the Winnipeg Blue Bombers of the CFL as a free agent.
Gene McDowell resigns (1/20/98) after 13 years as head coach and longtime offensive coordinator Mike Kruczek is named as interim head coach.
Quarterback Daunte Culpepper is named to the Playboy All-America team and earns preseason All-America honors from several publications, including Sports Illustrated, The Sporting News and Football Digest. He is profiled in nearly every major newspaper from New York to Los Angeles and is the subject of television features on numerous outlets including Good Morning America, ESPN, CNN/SI, Hard Copy, George Michael Sports Machine and ABC Nightly News.
UCF starts its most anticipated, and ultimately most successful, season with a convincing 64-30 win at Louisiana Tech in a showdown of two of the nation's top quarterbacks, Culpepper and Tim Rattay. A week later Culpepper does it again, accounting for seven touchdowns and earning USA Today Player of the Week honors in a 48-0 win against Eastern Illinois.
UCF makes its first national television appearance when ESPN televises its game at Purdue. The Golden Knights come up empty on three first-half attempts inside the Boilermaker 20-yard line and end up on the losing side of a 35-7 game.
UCF strings together five consecutive wins for its best start in school history at 7-1 and Mike Kruczek, named interim head coach after Gene McDowell's resignation January 20, has the interim title traded for a long-term contract Nov. 5.
UCF's bid to spoil Auburn's homecoming falls painfully short as a late fumble-while UCF attempts to run out the clock-leads to the game-winning touchdown for the Tigers in a 10-6 heartbreaker.
UCF wraps up its most successful season with a pair of wins at home, including a 38-6 triumph against New Mexico in the finale, to finish 9-2.
Culpepper breaks Steve Young's 1983 single-season completion percentage record of 71.3 by completing 73.6 percent of his passes and becomes only the third player in NCAA history to pass for more than 10,000 yards and rush for more than 1,000 yards in a career. He ends the season with more than 30 school records to his credit and becomes the first UCF football player to have his jersey retired.
The Knights accept a conditional bid Dec. 1, to the O'ahu bowl in Hawaii. That sweetness turns sour Dec. 5, when UCLA is upset by Miami, forcing the bowl to take a team from the PAC-10 to fill the opening.
Gene Chizik's hiring as defensive coordinator proves to pay quick dividends as UCF finishes 26th in the nation in total defense after ranking 81st a year earlier. Kruczek's offense finishes sixth in the nation in passing yards per game and seventh in the nation in total yards per game.
Culpepper finishes third in the nation in passing efficiency and third in total offense, while receiver Siaha Burley ranks fifth in receptions per game, seventh in punt return average and 14th in receiving yards per game.
Culpepper finishes sixth in the Heisman Trophy balloting and is named national Co-Player of the Year by the Sports Network, along with Texas running back Ricky Williams. He is also named Dream Team Player of the Year by the NFL Draft Report.
Football News names Culpepper it's Independent Player of the Year and bestows All-Independent honors on offensive linemen Marcus Jenkins and Cornell Green and defensive tackle Justen Moore.
Culpepper becomes UCF's first NFL first-round draft pick as the Minnesota Vikings select him 11th overall. Cornerback Paul Miranda is taken in the fourth by the Indianapolis Colts. Jenkins signs with the Pittsburgh Steelers as a free agent, while Burley signs with the Miami Dolphins, Green signs with the Atlanta Falcons, and Reginald Doster signs with the Oakland Raiders. Deon Porter signs with the Edmonton Eskimos of the Canadian Football League.
UCF starts the season with the toughest September schedule in the nation, facing four bowl winners from the previous year. All four teams enter the game ranked in the top 25.
No. 22 Purdue opens the slate in Orlando in front of 40,112 fans in the Citrus Bowl and a 5.5 rating in the Orlando market on Sun Sports. UCF, playing its first top-25 opponent at home, scores on its opening drive but surrenders 47 unanswered points to see its school record 11-game home winning streak snapped with a 47-13 loss.
Back-to-back losses at No. 4 Florida and No. 12 Georgia Tech led up to a thriller at No. 9 Georgia. Trailing 24-17 late in the fourth quarter, Vic Penn hits Page Sessoms in the endzone for a touchdown, but Javier Beorlegui's extra point attempt hits the upright and bounces away. UCF marches into field goal range (20 yard line) with 22 seconds remaining, but a controversial offensive pass interference call in the endzone seals UCF's fate, a 24-23 loss.
In addition to its foes on the field, UCF is forced to face weather concerns as well. The team juggles practice times and locations in preparation for the Georgia Tech game in order to avoid rain from Hurricane Floyd. A month later UCF shuts out Nicholls State 28-0 in the Citrus Bowl in a blowing mist, the remnants of Hurricane Irene which passes southeast of the stadium earlier in the day.
UCF gets another chance to spoil Auburn's homecoming, only to see the game slip away in the final minutes again. Trailing 10-7 with less than four minutes remaining, the Tigers explode for 21 points in a span of 97 seconds to take a 28-10 win.
UCF's tough season comes to a disappointing close at home when Bowling Green comes back from a 24-12 fourth-quarter deficit to win 33-30 in overtime.
Head coach Mike Kruczek further establishes his reputation for designing potent offenses as UCF finishes the season ranked 15th in passing offense and 22nd in total offense in spite of the daunting schedule. Junior college transfer Vic Penn does an admirable job of replacing All-American quarterback Daunte Culpepper and finishes 12th in the nation in total offense with better than 295 yards per game.
Ricot Joseph blocks a school record three punts on the year, two of which are returned for touchdowns, and returns a punt blocked by Elliot Shorter for a touchdown as well. In all, Charles Huff's kick block squad nullifies eight kicks on the year (five punts, two field goals and one PAT).
Defensive tackle Justen Moore registers 12 tackles behind the line of scrimmage on the year to finish as UCF's career leader in that category with 36. He is named to the Football News All-Independent team along with safety Damian Demps, center Chris Lorenti and receiver Charles Lee.
Lee finishes the season one reception shy of the school single-season mark with 87 catches on the year. He finishes sixth in the nation in receptions per game and ninth in yardage per game, and is drafted in the seventh round by the Green Bay Packers.
The team completes a successful campaign with a 7-4 record and notches its 12th winning season in the past 15 years. The season begins on a down note as Georgia Tech scores two touchdowns in the final four minutes of the game for a 21-17 victory. The other three losses come as a result of turnovers as UCF gives up the ball 17 times in those three games.
UCF grabs the biggest win in school history by defeating traditional power Alabama 40-38 in Tuscaloosa to spoil the Tide's Homecoming. Javier Beorlegui launches a 37-yard field goal with three seconds left to cap a 12-play, 59-yard drive to secure the come-from-behind victory. The game is characterized by tremendous momentum swings as Alabama scores 24 unanswered points in one stretch followed by 27 unanswered for UCF.
Vic Penn's separated shoulder in the game against William and Mary opens the door for redshirt freshman Ryan Schneider, who goes 8-of-16 for 115 yards and three touchdowns in his first outing. Schneider finishes the season ranked ninth in national passing efficiency (146.98) and 17th in total offense (249.56).
Damian Demps' interception deep in UCF territory in the final seconds preserves UCF's 20-16 victory on the road at Louisiana Tech.
A record crowd of 50,220 fans flock to the Florida Citrus Bowl to watch the Knights take on Virginia Tech, the highest-ranked home opponent ever (No. 8). Six turnovers prove costly as the Hokies go on to win 44-21.
UCF's defense finishes the season ranked 19th in the nation in take-aways. The Knights intercept opposing QBs 15 times (ranking 15th) and force 13 fumbles (25th). Nine different Golden Knights intercept at least one pass during the year. The defense also tallies 35 sacks.
The team finishes the season with an RPI ranking of 46 and is ranked No. 50 in the final Football News poll. Statistically, UCF finishes 2000 ranked 12th in the nation in passing (295.18), 35th in scoring offense (30.27), 28th in total defense (323.82), 33rd in scoring defense and 23rd in passing defense (192.91).
Wide receiver Tyson Hinshaw hauls in a UCF-record 89 receptions, finishing the year second in the nation with 8.09 catches per game. Hinshaw also finishes the year 10th in receiving yards per game (99.00).
Tito Rodriguez finishes second in the nation in tackles per game, Elton Patterson finishes 15th in sacks per game and Tony Hardman ties for first in fumbles caused and recovered per game.
Kenny Clark plays in the Blue-Gray game, and also plays in the Rotary Gridiron Classic along with Chris Lorenti, Kurt Baumann, and Hinshaw.
Hinshaw, Chris Lorenti, Javier Beorlegui, Josh McKibben, Elton Patterson, Tito Rodriguez and Damian Demps are named to the Football News All-Independent team.
Ryan Schneider, Hinshaw, Beorlegui and McKibben earn spots on the CollegeFootballNews.com All-Independent team. Ryan Schneider and Hinshaw are twice named Independent Player of the Week by College FootballNews.com, and Schneider is twice named Independent Player of the Week by USAToday.com.
Hinshaw and Lorenti sign with the NFL's Tennessee Titans as free agents, while Clark signs with the Minnesota Vikings and Demps signs with the Green Bay Packers. Penn signs with the Canadian Football League's British Columbia Lions.
UCF finishes the season 6-5, including a perfect 5-0 at home, in what will turn out to be the team's last season as an independent. It is the Knights' third winning season in the past four years. Three of the five losses are by a touchdown or less.
The season starts with a very disappointing loss at 19th ranked Clemson. It is a game UCF wins statistically, leading Clemson in every category but the most important one, the final score. A fake field goal resulting in a touchdown, and a missed extra point by UCF prove to be the difference in the 21-13 defeat.
Due to the tragic events of September 11, UCF and Louisiana-Lafayette join the rest of the nation in postponing their game. Coaches, players, students, and fans take the weekend off and join the country in mourning the losses of the victims and the heroes.
The weekend after the game cancellation, UCF travels to the Big Easy and takes on Tulane in the Louisiana Superdome. UCF comes up with its first win of the season thanks to redshirt freshman Alex Haynes. Haynes rushes for 148 yards and a school-record four touchdowns in the 36-29 win. It is Haynes' second consecutive 100-yard rushing game.
Four road games and more than a month into the season, UCF finally plays its first home game at the Citrus Bowl. The Knights give the eager home crowd plenty to cheer for in a 24-7 victory against UAB. UCF turns in its best defensive performance of the year and holds UAB to 111 yards of offense. Elton Patterson leads the way for the defense with 14 tackles, including five behind the line of scrimmage, two sacks and also forces a fumble.
UCF's three-game winning streak ends with a disappointing 30-27 loss at Utah State. After falling behind 17-0 in the first quarter, UCF comes back in the second when Asante Samuel blocks a field goal that Travis Fisher picks up and returns for a touchdown. With the Aggies leading 30-27 in the final minutes of the fourth quarter, a UCF fumble at the Utah State 23-yard line ends UCF's hopes of victory.
The biggest news of the season comes off the field when UCF finally finds a conference home after competing as an independent since the inception of the program in 1979. After years of waiting and months of speculation UCF signs an agreement Nov. 1, to enter the Mid-American Conference and compete in the East Division. The move is only for the football team as the rest of UCF's athletics teams remain in the Atlantic Sun Conference.
Mike Kruczek gets his 25th victory as head coach of the Golden Knights when UCF tops future MAC rival Akron two days after UCF's entrance into the conference is announced. Fueled by Akron's taunting antics before the game, the Golden Knights score a school-record 50 points in the first half en-route to a convincing 57-17 win.
Steve Edwards and Elton Patterson earn Football News honorable mention All-America honors and are named to the Football News All-Independent team along with Alex Haynes, Josh McKibben, Tito Rodriguez, and Asante Samuel. McKibben and Rodriguez are also named to the Collegefootballnews.com All-Independent team along with Tavirus Davis and Ricot Joseph. Rashad Jeanty and Haynes earn third and fourth team Freshman All-America honors respectively, from The Sporting News, and Jeanty is named second team All-Freshman by Football News. Joseph is named second team Verizon Academic All-American.
McKibben, Rodriguez and Edwards are invited to play in the Rotary Gridiron Classic with teammates Javier Beorlegui, Fisher and Mike Hedge.
Travis Fisher is drafted in the second round by the St. Louis Rams. Five other players join NFL teams as free agents as Steve Edwards signs with the Philadelphia Eagles, Ricot Joseph signs with the Washington Redskins, Josh McKibben signs with the Baltimore Ravens, Tito Rodriguez signs with the Cincinnati Bengals and Terrance Williams signs with the Atlanta Falcons.
UCF plays its first season as a member of the Mid-American Conference and finishes runner-up in the East division with a 6-2 record. The Knights finish 7-5 overall, completing their 14th winning season in the past 17 years.
UCF opens the season in front of its largest crowd ever when it travels to No. 24 Penn State. The game is also televised by ESPN, marking the second time UCF has appeared on national television. UCF battles to the end, but comes up short 27-24 in front of a crowd of 103,029. Freshman kicker Matt Prater has a strong debut by connecting on three of four field goal attempts, including a 53-yarder.
UCF makes its second national television appearance of the year when it squares off with Marshall in Huntington, W.Va. UCF again comes close, but falls 26-21. The Golden Knights turned the ball over twice on drives late in the fourth quarter.
After spotting the Broncos 14 points in the first quarter, UCF rallies on the road to defeat Western Michigan for its first MAC victory. Asante Samuel's interception at the goal line with 31 seconds remaining sealed the 31-27 come-from-behind win for UCF.
Ryan Schneider makes his mark on the UCF record books with 440 yards passing against Syracuse. He tops the 300-yard plateau seven times and the 400-yard mark twice en route to setting school records for passing yards in a season (3,770) and passing touchdowns in a season (31). He finishes fourth in the country in passing efficiency and fifth in total offense.
Doug Gabriel breaks an 18-year-old school record when he racks up 324 all-purpose yards against Syracuse. Gabriel finishes the year with a school record 1,237 yards receiving and combines with Jimmy Fryzel and his 1,126 yards to become the most prolific single-season receiving tandem at UCF. Fryzel finishes his career with at least one reception in 33 consecutive games, tying him with Charles Lee for second all-time at UCF.
UCF begins construction on its new Wayne Densch Sports Center. The $7 million, 44,000 square-foot home of UCF football is set for completion within a year, giving UCF a new weight room, locker room, coaches offices, and sports medicine facility.
Alex Haynes becomes the first from UCF to rush for more than 1,000 yards in a season since 1995 when he carries the ball 204 times for 1,038 yards. He makes up for lost time due to injury by picking up 456 yards in the final three games.
Former football players Daunte Culpepper, Shawn Jefferson, and Scott Ryerson take their place in the UCF Athletics Hall of Fame, bringing to five the number of gridiron stars enshrined at UCF.
Elton Patterson, Asante Samuel, and Atari Bigby earn first-team all-MAC honors, while Ryan Flinn, Jimmy Fryzel, and Doug Gabriel earn second-team honors. UCF has a total of nine players earn player-of-the-week honors in the MAC's East Division for offense, defense, or special teams.
Doug Gabriel becomes the first player from UCF to suit up in the Senior Bowl, while Asante Samuel, Elton Patterson, and Jimmy Fryzel appear in the Rotary Gridiron Classic. Mike Kruczek coaches Team Florida against Team USA, coached by Maryland coach Ralph Friedgen.
Four players hear their names called during the NFL draft and five other players sign as free agents, making it the largest NFL class from UCF in a single year. Those players bring to 26 the number of UCF players who sign an NFL contract in the past five years. Asante Samuel is drafted in the fourth round by New England, Doug Gabriel is drafted in the fifth round by Oakland, Mike Mabry is selected in the seventh round by Baltimore and Elton Patterson is taken in the seventh round by Cincinnati. Ryan Flinn signs with Seattle, Jimmy Fryzel signs with Miami, Mario Jackson signs with New Orleans, Brian Huff signs with Green Bay and Taylor Robertson signs with Philadelphia. Robertson, from Ontario, is also taken 13th overall in the Canadian Football League draft by Calgary. After spring football junior Rashad Jeanty leaves school and signs with Edmonton of the CFL.
UCF's football team moves into its new home as the state-of-the-art Wayne Densch Sports Center opens just 16 months after the clearing of the ground begins. The new building houses the team's new locker room, weight room, training room, and meting room, along with new offices for the coaches.
Record-setting quarterback Ryan Schneider is named to the watch lists for both the Johnny Unitas and Davey O'Brien awards and headlines a list of many UCF players garnering individual attention prior to the season. He is in the company of linebacker Stanford Rhule, who is named to the Butkus Award watch list; tailback Alex Haynes, named to the preseason Doak Walker watch list and strong safety Atari Bigby named to the Bronko Nagurski preseason watch list.
UCF opens its 25th season of football on national television at ninth-ranked Virginia Tech. The Hokies open the ESPN game with 28 unanswered points before UCF rallies with 21 of its own. Virginia Tech closes the game with 21 more points to win 49-28 in front of the largest crowd to ever watch a game in the commonwealth of Virginia in the newly expanded Lane Stadium. Matt Prater makes his UCF punting debut with a school record average of 55.7 yards on six punts.
Schneider does it again as the senior sets two new yardage marks en route to leading UCF past Florida Atlantic in the home opener. Schneider passes for 497 yards and finishes with 501 yards of total offense. He smashes his own passing mark and shatters Daunte Culpepper's total offense mark.
Two more football players make their way into the UCF Athletics Hall of Fame. Willie English, UCF's all-time leading rusher, and David Rhodes, UCF's all-time leading receiver, take their place alongside five other former Golden Knights.
Months of speculation turn to reality as UCF accepts an all-sports invitation from Conference USA, which marks an end date of 2005 for UCF's brief football affiliation with the Mid-American Conference.
UCF gets blanked at Ohio 28-0 and one of the longest steaks of its kind in the nation comes to an end. It's the first time UCF is shutout in 209 games dating to 1984.
Prater breaks his own single-game punting average with an average of 57.6 yards on seven punts at Ohio. He finishes the season with an NCAA-leading 47.9 yard-per-punt average en route to earning a spot among the Ray Guy Award Semifinalists and garnering SportsIllustrated.com honorable mention All-America honors.
The Orlando Sentinel announces its 25th anniversary team, selected in conjunction with former coaches, administrators and fans. Players from every era of the program are recognized, including Bill Giovanetti from the inaugural team and Asante Samuel, a 2002 graduate.
Schneider's senior season ends early due to suspension, halting his bid to top all of Culpepper's records. He finishes his career at UCF with 10,976 passing yards and 82 touchdown passes, second in both categories.
A rash of injuries, defections and suspensions leaves UCF down on talent and the losses mount. After a 3-7 start, Mike Kruczek is relieved of his coaching duties and longtime assistant Alan Gooch is promoted to interim head coach for the final two games.
Gooch makes his coaching debut when UCF plays Marshall in front of an ESPN2 television audience. It's the first nationally televised UCF home game. Marshall comes out on top 21-7.
A national search leads UCF director of athletics Steve Orsini to hire George O'Leary, the former Bobby Dodd national coach of the year, as the new coach of the Knights. O'Leary finishes his commitment to the Minnesota Vikings as defensive coordinator before turning his full attention to UCF. In the meantime, O'Leary assembles a staff to work in his absence. At his hiring press conference O'Leary calls UCF a sleeping giant. His hiring prompts feature articles in national publications such as Sports Illustrated, ESPN the Magazine and USA Today.
Prater and Bigby earn All-MAC honors. For Bigby it is the second such first-team honor, while Prater earns second-team honors for the first time.
Tight end Michael Gaines, who is ineligible for the 2003 season, plays in the Blue-Gray game and is drafted by the Carolina Panthers in the seventh round. Offensive lineman David Ashkinaz plays in the East West Shrine Game and joins Gaines in the NFL when he signs with the Atlanta Falcons as a free agent.
The George O'Leary era is delayed one game as O'Leary misses the season-opener at Wisconsin while attending his mother's funeral. Linebackers coach Dave Huxtable serves as UCF's head coach as the Knights fall 34-6 to the host Badgers.
The Wisconsin game is on ESPN, marking the third straight year UCF opens the season on ESPN.
The Knights have an extended stay in Madison as Hurricane Francis rolls through Orlando. UCF stays two extra days in Wisconsin.
O'Leary coaches his first game at UCF as the 10th-ranked West Virginia Mountaineers make their first visit to the Florida Citrus Bowl on Sept. 10. The Mountaineers are the second-highest ranked team to play the Golden Knights at home.
Senior tailback Alex Haynes moves into second place in career rushing at UCF vs. WVU. He rushes for 137 yards, his 12th career 100-yard game at UCF.
UCF plays in front of a season-high 101,715 fans at Penn State in the third game of the season. The Knights open the year with one of the toughest schedules in the nation, traveling to Big 10 foes Wisconsin and Penn State along with the home game vs. West Virginia.
Mike Walker records his first two career interceptions in the Penn State game. Walker previously moved to cornerback from wide receiver due to a rash of injuries UCF sustained in its secondary.
Playing perhaps its best game of the season, UCF scores with 45 seconds left to take a 28-27 lead over Northern Illinois on Oct. 9 at the Citrus Bowl. The Golden Knights erupted for 21 points in the fourth quarter, only to see the Huskies hit a 39-yard field goal as time expired to secure a 30-28 victory.
Sophomore quarterback Steven Moffett sets then-career highs in passing yards (272), completions (25) and touchdown passes (2) vs. NIU.
Ball State erases a 17-14 deficit in the fourth quarter to rally past UCF 21-17 November 13 at Ball State. In the game, Alex Haynes becomes UCF's all-time leading rusher with 140 yards. Haynes rushes for his 15th 100-yard game to tie Willie English's all-time record at UCF.
UCF closes out the season with a 41-24 loss to Kent State. Haynes ends his career with 101 yards on 19 carries, setting the UCF record for 100-yard games with 16. Haynes finishes his career with a school-record 3,356 rushing yards.
Haynes and senior strong safety Atari Bigby showcase their talents in the Gridiron Classic All-Star game at the Villages. Haynes scores a touchdown in the all-star game featuring some of the nation's top senior prospects.
Three Knights sign free agent contracts with NFL teams. Wide receiver Tavaris Capers inks a deal with Pittsburgh and fellow wide out Luther Huggins signs with Miami. Bigby also signs a free agent deal with the Dolphins.
UCF shocks the college football world in 2005, going from 0-11 to 8-5 and the school's first bowl appearance in the Sheraton Hawaii Bowl.
The Knights finish 7-1 in their first season in Conference USA en route to the East Division championship.
UCF ties for the fourth-best turnaround in NCAA history. The Golden Knights also record the best one-year turnaround in C-USA history with the seven-game swing.
The Knights became the first team in NCAA history to win five straight games after going 0-11 the previous season.
UCF is just the sixth team in NCAA history to play in a bowl game after going winless the previous year.
Prior to UCF, South Carolina was the last team to go from a winless campaign to a bowl a year later. In 1999, the Gamecocks went 0-11 before going 8-4 in 2000 under head coach Lou Holtz.
UCF is just the fourth team in NCAA history to play seven away games in a season (11-game schedule) and participate in a bowl game.
After leading his squad to the Conference USA East Division title and a berth in the inaugural league championship game, UCF head coach George O'Leary is named the C-USA Coach of the Year, as selected by the league's head coaches and media members in each conference city.
It marks the third time in O'Leary's career he has been named a conference coach of the year. He was twice named ACC Coach of the Year during his tenure at Georgia Tech.
Kevin Smith is named Conference USA Freshman of the Year by the league's head coaches and media members. He is the first Golden Knight in school history to be named a conference freshman of the year in football. He is named to the All-C-USA Second Team offense and was also an All-C-USA Freshman Team selection.
The Miami native finishes his freshman campaign with the second-most rushing yards for a true freshman in the NCAA in 2005.
Smith ends the season with 1,178 yards, including a Sheraton Hawaii Bowl-record 202 yards in UCF's 49-48 overtime loss to Nevada. Smith had the longest run in Hawaii Bowl history with a 78-yard touchdown.
With UCF's 8-5 record in 2005, the Knights finish with the second-most wins in the school's 10-year Division I-A history. Only the 1998 team had more victories in a season than the 2005 squad.
The largest crowd in UCF history is on hand for the inaugural Conference USA Football Championship game Dec. 3 vs. Tulsa. A crowd of 51,978 comes out to watch the title game at the Florida Citrus Bowl.
Joe Burnett is quite a playmaker on UCF's defense and special teams as a true freshman in 2005. The Eustis, Fla., native leads Conference USA in average yards per punt return (16.5) and is second in interceptions per game (0.38). He ranks sixth nationally in punt returns and 26th in interceptions per game.
Burnett is named All-C-USA First Team both on defense at cornerback and on special teams as the punt returner.
Burnett also ties for second in UCF single-season history with five interceptions. The five interceptions are the most by a single player in UCF's Division I-A history.
UCF announces plans to build an on-campus football stadium, adjacent to the Wayne Densch Sports Center and Nicholson Fieldhouse. The stadium will seat approximately 45,000 fans in a bowl shaped configuration and feature a state-of-the-art scoreboard, video board, luxury boxes, natural grass playing surface and a large club lounge and press box. The stadium is scheduled to be completed by 2007.
Prior to the season, Bright House Networks acquires the naming rights to the new stadium.
UCF closes out its long tenure at the Citrus Bowl on Nov. 25, with a 31-22 Conference USA win over UAB.
After a record-breaking season in which he recorded a school-best 90 receptions, wide receiver Mike Walker is selected by the Jacksonville Jaguars in the third round of the National Football League Draft. Offensive lineman Cedric Gagne-Marcoux is picked eighth overall by the Hamilton Tiger-Cats in the Canadian Football League Draft.
After a season-opening win at NC State, the Knights play on campus for the first time, hosting sixth-ranked Texas in the inaugural game at Bright House Network Stadium. In front of 45,622 fans, the Longhorns escape with a 35-32 victory.
After a pair of losses in October, the Knights complete the regular season with six-straight victories, earning the right to host Tulsa in the Conference USA Championship Game. UCF captures the C-USA title with a 44-25 victory and earns a spot in the AutoZone Liberty Bowl. The Knights face Mississippi State in the bowl game.
During the campaign, tailback Kevin Smith posts one of the finest seasons in NCAA history. He rushes for 2,567 yards, which ranks second all-time behind only Barry Sanders. Smith earns C-USA Co-Player of the Year recognition and becomes the first player in UCF history to earn consensus All-America honors.
Head coach George O'Leary is named the C-USA Coach of the Year and defensive lineman Keith Shologan is named to the ESPN The Magazine Academic All-America First Team.
The Detroit Lions take Smith in the third round of the National Football League Draft, while offensive lineman Josh Sitton (Green Bay Packers, fourth round) and tight end Mike Merritt (Kansas City Chiefs, seventh round) are also selected. Shologan is picked by the Saskatchewan Roughriders with the fourth overall selection in the Canadian Football League Draft.
UCF finished the year at 4-8 and 3-5 in C-USA action.
The Knights led the league in rushing defense and passing efficiency defense while ranking second in both total defense and scoring defense. UCF was third nationally with 8.17 tackles for loss per game.
Joe Burnett became a first-team All-America selection as a returner after breaking every major school and C-USA career punt return record. He finished his career 19th in NCAA history in career punt return yardage. He, along with fellow senior defensive backs Johnell Neal, Sha'reff Rashad and Jason Venson combined to intercept a total of 50 passes in their UCF careers.