In our fifth episode of UCF Throwback Classics, it’s the UCF Knights versus the South Florida Bulls from 2013. In this game, UCF locks up at least a share of the American Athletic Conference championship with a come-from-behind win over rivals South Florida 23-20. It was the first time in five tries that the Knights defeated the Bulls and was the first time they played against each other as conference mates.
In what could be argued as the worst uniform in UCF’s history, the Knights gave fans a “non-blackout” blackout. They donned black helmets for the first time since 1994, but instead of completing the uniform, opted to wear gold jerseys with black pants. The helmet had a very wide stripe in the front that thinned out until it cut off just past the top of the helmet. It was definitely an unusual design and pretty polarizing among fans at the time. Why did UCF drop the ball on this? While no one will really own up to it, this goes back to a quote from coach George O’Leary, “I don’t tell them what to wear except black-on-black, they’re not wearing black-on-black.” This look did not work. The combination of black-gold-black has been used once and hasn’t come back. The helmet was used this one time and retired while the jerseys and pants template was used until 2016 when the current template design took over.
The Knights opened up with the ball and struggled immediately. After a no-call on an offside, running back Storm Johnson fumbled the ball away. The Bulls took advantage as Marvin Kloss, one of the top kickers in the country, hit a 46-yard field goal to open up the scoring. The Knights continued to feed Johnson the ball and he made the Bulls pay. Unfortunately, after getting into the redzone, he bumped into his own lineman and fumbled the ball away again. After the Bulls do a whole lot of nothing, barely avoiding a safety, they punt it back to UCF and returned J.J. Worton had a great return. The Knights started deep in Bulls territory and got within the ten-yard line, but had to settle for a 27-yard field goal from Shawn Moffitt to tie the game 3-3. South Florida quarterback Mike White made a pair of long third-down conversions before Kloss squeaked in a 42-yard field goal to give South Florida a 6-3 lead in the second quarter. Two plays later, UCF turns it over for the third time as a tipped Blake Bortles pass gets intercepted, giving South Florida great field position. They get down inside the ten-yard line before White fumbled the snap on a fourth and two, giving the ball back to the Knights. The Knights have a long and methodical 92-yard drive. UCF scores their first touchdown of the day as Bortles finds tight end Justin Tukes for an eight-yard touchdown pass with 1:22 left in the half. South Florida went three-and-out very quickly, punting it back to UCF. The Knights made them pay by getting inside the ten-yard line. On fourth down with six seconds left, Shawn Moffitt hits a 24-yard field goal to give UCF a 13-6 halftime lead.
The second half started flat. The Bulls punted twice and the Knights punted once. On UCF’s second drive of the half, turnover number four hits as Blake Bortles didn’t protect the ball enough in the pocket and it was poked free, giving the Bulls good field position in Knights territory. Chris Dunkley scored on for the Bulls on a 13-yard end-around to tie the game at 13. Rannell Hall tries to turn the momentum by returning the kickoff 69-yards. The Knights offense doesn’t really go anywhere, but Shawn Moffitt was able to hit a 39-yard field goal to give the Knights a 16-13 lead in the third quarter. South Florida responded with their most complete drive of the game, going 77 yards in nine plays and scoring on a one-yard Marcus Shawn run to give the Bulls a 20-16 lead early in the fourth quarter. This was South Florida’s eleventh offensive touchdown all season.
The Knights and Bulls would trade punts and then the Knights would lose their fifth turnover as Bortles was intercepted by Nate Godwin in UCF territory. South Florida went backward, losing key yards and forcing Kloss to kick a 51-yard field goal, which he just missed with under six minutes left in the game. Three plays later, Bortles pump-faked and hit Breshad Perriman for a 52-yard touchdown, giving UCF a 23-20 lead with under five minutes to play. The Bulls began their final march inside their own 20 and chipped away at the Knights, getting over midfield. On third and six at the UCF 39, White’s pass was intercepted by Jordan Ozerities, who flipped the field and helped seal the win for the Knights.
This game is a great example of “a win is a win”. It was ugly. UCF outgained South Florida by the slimmest of margins 296-294. South Florida won the turnover battle 5-2 and the third-down conversion ratio 7/17 versus 1/9. UCF did get called for fewer penalties as they had 6 for 47 yards while South Florida had 11 for 89 yards.
The win gave them a chance to win the conference outright during their next game at SMU the following week. This was the last year the Big East/AAC was a BCS auto-qualifying conference, so the champion automatically got a bid to a BCS bowl. The season finale against SMU became a “win and in” situation.
This particular video has only the plays. The time and commentary in between plays had been previously edited out by someone else.
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