Battle of Undefeateds



Nov. 6, 2013

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By Chip Fontanazza

ORLANDO, Fla. ( – No. 19/21 UCF (6-1, 3-0) plays its next “championship game” against the Houston Cougars (7-1, 4-0) Saturday night at Bright House Networks Stadium. Since the Knights knocked off Louisville, head coach George O’Leary said the team would face six “championship games.” The first of those was the victory over Connecticut two weeks ago. The next one is the matchup with Houston, with both teams coming in undefeated in league play.

That means the victor in Saturday night’s clash will have sole possession of first place in The American, as well as the inside track to a league title and an automatic BCS bowl berth. This will be the first time these programs have faced each other since 2010. The Knights came away with a 40-33 victory in that meeting, when both squads were members of Conference USA.

“I think it’s a great opportunity,” said UCF head coach George O’Leary. “They’re undefeated in conference play and we have to win the game to stay in first place in the conference. That’s enough right there. As I said we had six championship games left. Now we have five and this is the next one.”

Wide receiver J.J. Worton echoed his coach’s sentiments.

“We take every game seriously and we know that it’s a one-game season, like coach [O’Leary] has been talking about all season,” said Worton (No. 9). “We know they’re a good opponent and we have to come out and play our best to come out with a win.”

Houston currently leads the conference in both total offense (496.7 ypg) and scoring offense (42 ppg). UCF junior running back Storm Johnson (No. 8) says he has complete confidence in the Knights’ defense. The Knights are ranked third in the conference in scoring defense, allowing an average of just 19.3 points per game.

“That’s how we always go into the game,” Johnson said. “Knowing the defense is going to do their job and we’re going to do ours.”

O’Leary said it will likely come down to fundamentals, turnovers and special teams.

“I think it’s a game where we’re going to have to go out and perform and execute,” said O’Leary. “Houston is a very good team. They’re doing a great job (creating turnovers), which creates great field position for their offense. Offensively, they have a lot of weapons. They keep it simple for the young quarterback and they have receivers that catch.”

For more from Monday’s press conference, watch the video above.




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