Hope you will forgive me, UCF fans, for what I am about to tell you.
This is probably not something you want to hear in the wake of Saturday's definitive dismantling of winless UConn in a game that made UCF seem more like it is in the same league as FSU rather than USF.
You probably just want to sit back and enjoy this 62-17 victory — the most lopsided conference clobbering the school has ever had.
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- Watch: Blake Bortles on the productive day for the offense
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- Watch: UCF coach George O'Leary after Knights' win conference championship at SMU
You probably just want to relish being ranked for the first time since 2010 and appreciate that coach George O'Leary has not only built a team that is one of the best in its own state and its own conference but one of the best in the entire nation, too.
And, yes, you probably just want to imagine the possibility of playing in a BCS bowl for the first time in school history.
Well, you better soak up and savor this season because of what I am about to tell you:
Your stud quarterback Blake Bortles might be gone next year.
He just might be playing himself into the first round of the NFL draft.
Blake, of course, says all the right things. He said after Saturday's game he still has one more year of eligibility remaining and wants "to play college football as long as I can." He says he's not even thinking about the NFL and is worried about UCF's next game against Houston.
But if you believe this, I've got some oceanfront property in Topeka I'll sell you. Come on, anybody who has a winning lotto ticket in his pocket is certainly going to think about when he might cash it.
"I don't even know if the NFL would want me," said Bortles, the Oviedo High product who played a little more than a half Saturday but still completed 20 of 24 passes for 286 yards with four passing touchdowns and another one on the ground. "It's every kid's dream to play in the NFL, but the question is, 'Do they want me?'"
Let me answer that question:
As one of my buddies tweeted Saturday: "#BortlesToTheBay" — as in Tampa Bay. I'm here to tell you right now, Bortles could not only start for the Bucs, he could start for the Jags and maybe even the Dolphins, too.
The unofficial mantra of the winless Jags all season has been "Tank it for Teddy" in reference to Louisville quarterback Teddy Bridgewater, who is commonly recognized as the top QB available in the upcoming NFL draft. As Sentinel colleague Matt Murschel suggested during Saturday's game, maybe Jags' fans should at least consider changing their rallying cry to: "Blow it for Bortles."
More than a dozen NFL scouts were on hand last week when Bortles out-dueled Bridgewater and led UCF back from a 28-7 second-half deficit to a 38-35 victory over the previously unbeaten Cardinals. Bortles followed that up Saturday by leading the Knights to scores on all eight possessions in which he was in the game. UCF's offense accounted for eight touchdowns against UConn. Question: Will the Florida Gators' offense score eight touchdowns all season?
Every week, Bortles gets better and does something that makes you realize his NFL potential. Like Saturday, when he spun in the backfield to elude the rush, ran left and then lofted a beautiful pass across his body that Storm Johnson caught for a 7-yard touchdown. Or what about when he escaped another potential sack, sprinted right and simply outran UConn NFL-caliber linebacker Yawin Smallwood for a 10-yard touchdown.
"The good quarterbacks take a bad play and make a good play out of it," UCF coach George O'Leary said. "There's no doubt he's a talented athlete."
Talented enough to, perhaps, have a decision to make after this season.
Go to the NFL or return to a potential powerhouse UCF team that loses only seven seniors and returns 18 of 22 starters.
Whatever Blake Bortles decides, he's already given his hometown a reason to be proud.
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