Win Against Miami Would Change Program

Ryan BassContributor IOctober 14, 2009

FORT LAUDERDALE, FL - OCTOBER 03: Wide receiver Travis Benjamin #3 and linebacker Darryl Sharpton #50 of the Miami Hurricanes celebrate after defeating the Oklahoma Sooners at Land Shark Stadium on October 3, 2009 in Fort Lauderdale, Florida. Miami defeated Oklahoma 21-20. (Photo by Doug Benc/Getty Images)

Just sit back and imagine this scene for a minute.

A sea of more than 45,000 fans, most of them decked out in orange and green, walking out of Bright House Networks Stadium on Saturday with frowns on their faces, like UCF just did the unthinkable.

Like UCF finally won the big game.

Like the Knights actually beat Miami.

Could it happen?

A win against Miami would be a victory of epic proportions for the UCF football program. It would mean they would finally be included in the conversation among the top football programs in the state. It would be their first win ever against a BCS ranked opponent.

Remove all of those biases and take off that Miami hat, you're a UCF fan. Hop off the Hurricane bandwagon for a second and pause for this thought. It’s important.

What would it mean to the UCF football program to beat Miami this weekend?

For starters, it would be the biggest victory in school history. It would be the single biggest moment in UCF football history. Period.

It would be bigger than the opening of the new on-campus stadium in 2007. Wait, what happened in that game? Oh yeah, UCF fell by just three points to No. 6 Texas.

Bigger than beating Alabama 40-38 on the road back in 2000.

Yes, even bigger than the Knights first Conference USA championship in 2007 and former UCF running back Kevin Smith’s historic 2,567 yard rushing season.

For the past decade, UCF has been measured with the success of the program that "shall not be named" down in Tampa. Since 2005, that team is 6-4 against nationally ranked opponents, including beating West Virginia when they were ranked No. 5 in the nation in 2007, and knocking off No. 18 Florida State earlier this season.

During that span, the Knights are winless against ranked teams, losing to Florida, Texas, USF, and Tulsa. All that gets thrown out the window on Saturday when UCF and Miami hit the field, especially with UCF playing at home.

The Knights have lost by a combined 10 points at Bright House Networks Stadium to ranked opponents, meaning Saturday’s game could get interesting.

A UCF win would finally give Conference USA the credit it deserves. Houston has been waiting for another team in the conference to make some headlines around the nation and knock off some ranked teams, and UCF could be that program.

Oh, and let’s not forget about recruiting. UCF is big on nabbing athletes from the Dade and Broward county areas in South Florida, with 19 players on the roster hailing from those counties and nine of which are starters.

Remember last year when Brandon Harris was debating between playing football at UCF or Miami before National Signing Day? He made the obvious choice and picked the historic and successful program over the up-and-coming-will-be-good-soon-but-can’t-get-over-the-hump-team. That hump could be conquered sooner than he thought.

A win against Miami could sway that talent to Central Florida. It could be a tool the Knights could use when wooing future recruits, regardless of how much head coach George O’Leary downplays it.

UCF put up a good fight against Miami last year at Land Shark Stadium, losing only 20-14. In that game, Harris passed for just 14 yards on four completions. The 2009 version of the ‘Canes and Harris are nothing like the 7-6 team we saw last season.

A win over Miami would mean a lot of good for UCF. It would be the single biggest victory in program history, despite what would be a 4-2 record. It would give them national exposure, something they have been craving for awhile since they joined the Football Bowl Subdivision in 1990. It would mark the end of “moral victories” like they had against Texas and USF the past two seasons.

Just imagine the grin on O’Leary’s face as he walks off the field and shakes the hand of UCF Athletic Director Keith Tribble after the biggest victory in his six-year tenure.

It will be a smile that’s been a long time coming.

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