Each Thursday until the 2018 UCF Football season gets underway, Knight Sports Now will have a little fun with Throwback Thursdays. Every week, we’ll take a look at the Knights’ best game in each of their years competing at the FBS level. This week, we continue with 2004.
UCF Football’s Best Game of 2004: 34-6 loss at No. 21 Wisconsin
The 2004 season was extremely forgettable for UCF. The Knights finished 0-11, which ultimately meant the program had lost 15 straight dating back to the end of the 2003 season. After the firing of Mike Kruczek, George O’Leary took over the program to start 2004. His debut season was nothing short of awful, as UCF was soundly beaten in seven of its 11 games.
That makes it difficult to pick out the team’s best game of the year. While a 28-point loss seems like an odd pick, there’s at least some logic behind it. Maybe no one knew at the time, but that game marked the debut of someone who would go on to be one of the program’s biggest (albeit fairly polarizing) icons. Yes, 2004 was ugly. But what followed for the Knights as a program retroactively makes the start of the O’Leary era highly significant.
As for the game, UCF kept things somewhat close in the first quarter. A 51-yard field goal by Matt Prater got the Knights on the board before a Mike Allen field goal gave the Badgers a 10-3 lead after 15 minutes. From there, it was all Wisconsin. The announced home crowd of 82,116 at Camp Randall Stadium had a lot to cheer about, as their team went on a 20-0 run after Prater’s field goal. By the time he nailed a 33-yarder late in the third quarter, the game was well out of reach. A 52-yard touchdown pass from John Stocco to Owen Daniels at the start of the fourth put an exclamation point on the Badgers’ 34-6 victory.
The next 10 games were similarly miserable for UCF, but what came after was years of success under O’Leary. That success included two Conference USA titles, two American Athletic Conference titles, seven bowl appearances and three bowl wins (one of which was a BCS Bowl). O’Leary was also a big part of the movement to build an on-campus stadium, which opened as Bright House Networks Stadium in 2007. In his UCF career, O’Leary compiled a record of 81-68, with a mark of 58-34 in conference play.
There wasn’t a lot to like about the 2004 season for the Knights, which means the unsuccessful debut of an eventually-successful coach is our pick as UCF’s best game of the year.
For previous Throwback Thursdays from Knight Sports Now, click here.