Enough of the toying around from Team Titillation.
Enough of the nail-biting, heart-stopping finishes.
Enough of the comeback kids.
- Bio | E-mail | Recent columns
- Watch: UCF Coach George O'Leary talks about win over Rutgers
- Pictures: UCF Knights vs. Rutgers Scarlet Knights
- UCF's J.J. Worton aims to move up on from epic catch, help lead Knights to more wins
- Pictures: UCF fans and tailgaters
- Pictures: UCF and Baylor at the Fiesta Bowl
- Pictures: New UCF football uniforms
- Video: Pregame at Fiesta Bowl
The time arrived Thursday night for the No. 18-ranked UCF Knights to go from a team of destiny to a team of dominance.
And right before the very eyes of an ESPN national audience, the cardiac kids grew into alpha males, destroying Rutgers 41-17 and making the Scarlet Knights look like they should be headed to the Big Sky instead of the Big Ten. Rutgers defensive coordinator Dave Cohen was accused of bullying one of his former players earlier this week, but on this night UCF quarterback Blake Bortles and his offensive teammates bullied all of Cohen’s current players.
Bortles, throwing for 335 yards and orchestrating scoring drives on six of UCF’s first seven possessions, led UCF to a quick 21-0 lead and made it clear to everyone that his team’s season has come down to this:
BCS Bowl or BCS Bust.
No more messing around. No more taking the foot off the accelerator.
“They’re all wins, but I’d rather have tonight’s type of win than the ones I’ve seen lately,” UCF coach George O’Leary said.
O’Leary has seen his team trail by three touchdowns in the second half against No. 8-ranked Louisville and then rally for a 38-35 victory
He has seen his defense make a game-saving stand in the final seconds to beat Houston, 19-14.
He has seen UCF turn two fumbles into touchdowns within a nine-second span at the end of the game to beat lowly Memphis 24-17.
And last week, he saw his wide receiver J.J. Worton make one of the greatest catches in the history of football to spur the Knights to a 39-36 victory over a Temple team that has won only one game this year.
“It’s unusual the way it’s happened,” O’Leary said earlier this week. “This team is very resilient. We’re executing very well in the situations we need to.”
Translation: Going into Thursday night’s game, the Knights have had to be down on the ground getting their teeth kicked in before they decided to get up and fight.
This has made UCF games more entertaining and exciting than any team in the country. Watching UCF this year has been more fun than puppies on linoleum. The Knights have played up to the competition and down to the competition. And through it all, they’ve won many more games than most of the so-called experts expected before the season.
But preseason expectations no longer matter. All that matters now is this:
BCS Bowl or BCS Bust.
And this is why UCF needed to flex its muscles and make a statement against Rutgers. Letting inferior teams like Temple and Memphis hang around is eventually going to get you beat. The Knights have two games left on the schedule against teams they should not only defeat but should destroy. If you’re the No. 18 team in the country, you should be able to manhandle USF (2-7) next week at home and then go on the road and close out the season with a victory over SMU (4-5).
As we saw against Rutgers, the Knights have one of the most explosive offenses in the country. Bortles is a potential NFL first-round draft pick and the seventh-rated passer in the country. Running back Storm Johnson is averaging nearly 100 yards per game and more than 5 yards per carry. UCF’s stable of receivers is one of the deepest, most talented in the country.
There’s no excuse for the Knights having scored only 10 points against Memphis until the final two minutes of the game. There’s no excuse for scoring only 19 points against Houston and needing a once-in-a-lifetime catch by Worton to beat Temple.
Because their defense is young, injured and vulnerable, the Knights shouldn’t give bad teams any hope of pulling off an upset. They should be burying them under a barrage of offense like they did with Rutgers Thursday night.
“The team needed this type of game,” O’Leary said. “I’d rather be fast than lucky. We want to score points fast. Luck runs out; athleticism is always going to be there.”
In other words, the Knights showed Thursday they may be evolving from a team of destiny to a team of dominance.
They have had a great season, but they’re starting to show they just might be a great team, too.
Now it’s time for a game against their biggest rival.
It’s USF week, and a win against the Bulls could clinch the conference championship.
BCS Bowl or BCS Bust.