Finish Strong

Dec. 2, 2013

Twitter Logo Facebook Logo UCF Athletics Social Media Directory

By Chip Fontanazza

ORLANDO, Fla. ( – The final game of the regular season is this weekend and the No. 15/17 UCF Knights (10-1, 7-0) are focused on finishing undefeated in conference play in their inaugural season in the American Athletic Conference. The only team UCF has to defeat to accomplish that is the SMU Mustangs (5-6, 4-3), who are fighting to clinch a bowl berth with a win.

With last week’s 23-20 victory over the rival USF Bulls, UCF earned at least a share of the first-ever AAC Championship. Of course, winning the conference championship will put the Knights in a BCS Bowl game for the first time in school history. The Knights have a chance to clinch the BCS berth as early as Thursday night if the No. 19/16 Louisville Cardinals defeat the Cincinnati Bearcats, but the entire team is focused on taking care of business in the Lone Star State and that’s beating SMU.

“Our concern is SMU and winning the game. That’s why we’re playing,” said UCF head coach George O’Leary. “Thursday could be great for us or it doesn’t change anything. We have to win the game Saturday and that’s how we’re looking at it.”

Senior offensive lineman Jordan McCray (No. 63) says the Knights are focused on finishing the regular season strong.

“We have to focus on what we can do right now,” said Jordan McCray. “Right now we have to beat SMU and then we reach all of our goals. We’re just focusing on SMU right now and making sure we’re ready for that game.”

One challenge both teams may have to deal with on Saturday afternoon is the weather. The temperature on Monday in Dallas, Texas was 66 degrees and partly sunny, but Saturday, the projected high is 37 degrees with a chance of snow/sleeting rain.

“It’s for both teams. That’s one thing about football,” said Coach O’Leary. “You can’t control the weather and you have to play with what you got.”

The coldest game the Knights have played in this season was against Temple in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. The coldest it got during that game was the high 50s.

“You just have to go out and play in it,” said senior offensive lineman Justin McCray (No. 64). “We’ve played in cold places before, maybe not so much sleet or anything like that, but I think we’ll be ready for it.”

Kickoff for Saturday’s game is set for noon and it will be broadcasted nationally on ESPN. For more from Monday’s press conference, watch the video above.



Fox 35 Reliable One