3. Knights become bowl-eligible.
In other words: UCF wins the game.
The Knights have lucked out in terms of scheduling. On Saturday, they hosted an Oklahoma State team that had just played an emotional Bedlam game the week before. The Cowboys came out slow and lethargic, and Malzahn’s team absolutely pounced.
This week, Texas Tech comes home after a hard-fought road win at 16th-ranked Kansas. The Red Raiders won 16-13 after a game-winning field goal from Gino Garcia as time expired.
UCF has all the momentum to catch a hung-over and potentially slow-starting Texas Tech team on Saturday.
Fighting for bowl eligibility this late in the year is not typically a good thing in Orlando, but this season is an exception. Their first campaign in a Power Five league has been a struggle, but it’s par for the course. All four of the new teams in the Big 12 (Houston, BYU, Cincinnati, and the Knights) sit in the bottom five of the conference standings.
Malzahn has a track record as a strong recruiter, and playing in a Power Five conference with increased exposure will only boost UCF’s ability to attract talent. This program will climb the hierarchy in the conference in the coming years, but this is the time for growing pains.
If bowl eligibility in a program’s first year in the Power Five is a growing pain, that’s a good sign. UCF is a healthy program, and the future in Orlando looks bright.