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INSTANT REAX: Knights Implode at Tulsa, 34-31

WTF was that?

Central Florida v Temple Photo by Mitchell Leff/Getty Images

Total disaster.

That’s the first thought that comes to mind when analyzing the UCF Knights’ 34-31 loss at Tulsa Friday night. It was a winnable game against a 2-7 team slipped through UCF’s hands through penalties, injuries, and un-UCF-like football.

Here’s your semi-instant reax:


Highlights

Reaction

Four Five Downs

Penalties. 15 of them for 120 yards. This was one of the least-disciplined games we’ve seen UCF play in a long time. Five of those penalties gave Tulsa first downs, several times at really inopportune moments, including the last one: a 12 men on the field penalty on a 4th & 1 stop that would have given the Knights back the ball with about a minute to go.

3 points. That’s all UCF could muster in the second half after a 28-point first half where it seemed UCF was in control. Of UCF’s seven second-half possessions, four of them ended in turnovers.

UCFrustration. It boiled over in the second half on defense as Nate Evans got into an altercation with Kenny Turnier in the fourth quarter (we’re still looking for reliable video). Evans discussed it afterward:

HOW??!?!?! UCF out-gained Tulsa 457-353. They were 8/19 on third downs and held Tulsa to 3/15. They out-ruched Tulsa 167-139. They were even 4/4 in the Red Zone. And yet, they walk out of there with their third loss of the season.

House of Horrors. UCF is now 0-5 all-tme at Tulsa, including heartbreaking losses and even a conference championship game. It has become the Knights’ personal Waterloo.

Where do we go from here?

With two conference losses, UCF is now all but eliminated from the American East Division race. They’d need Cincinnati to lose three times in their last four, and that’s not likely.

UCF heads into the bye week, and will play next at Tulane on November 23rd before facing South Florida at home on Black Friday. Then it’s bowl time.

A ten-win season with a bowl win is still in play, so that’s good. The disappointment is acute, and fodder for some really over-the-top overreaction. Just look at Twitter if you don’t believe me.

We may very well look back at this year as a necessary evil in the development of a new post-Frost core group, especially with Josh Heupel, Dillon Gabriel, and others.

But for now, this hurts, because it removed any remote possibility of UCF achieving the larger goals they had for themselves at the start of the year. The Knights have two weeks to think about it, rally, and figure out how to channel this disappointment into a successful conclusion to a season that had so much promise.