UCF Football game of the year rankings

Photo courtesy of UCF Athletics Communications

2017 was a historic year for UCF Football. Before the No. 12 Knights (12-0, 8-0 AAC) open the 2018 calendar year against the No. 7 Auburn Tigers (10-3, 7-1 SEC), Knight Sports Now co-founder Christian Simmons and senior writer Bailey Adams collaborated to rank UCF’s games from least entertaining to most entertaining.

No. 13: UCF 0, Georgia Tech 0 (Sept. 16)

Bailey Adams: This game was just the worst, wasn’t it? There was no action whatsoever. It’s almost like both teams forgot to show up. What a disappointment. (My ranking: No. 13)

Christian Simmons: You’re absolutely right, Bailey. It felt at times like neither team was even on the field. A truly uninspiring performance across the board. (My ranking: No. 13)

No. 12: UCF 49, UConn 24 (Nov. 11)

BA: The Civil ConFLiCT isn’t what it used to be, I guess. This game was slow and didn’t have a lot of memorable moments, especially considering UCF scored just seven points between the second and third quarters. By the middle of the offseason, I won’t remember that this game happened. What I will remember, though, are those sweet American flag decals the team wore that day. (My ranking: No. 12)

CS: I actually think there’s a case to be made that the nonexistent Georgia Tech game was more entertaining. Playing UConn used to be somewhat fun just because we all got to make fun of the ConFLiCT, but then Bob Diaco had to go get fired and we lost even that little joy. (My ranking: No. 12)

No. 11: UCF 45, Temple 19 (Nov. 18)

BA: There wasn’t anything particularly wrong with this game, but it was just forgettable. The Knights rolled offensively and the defense forced five turnovers. Interestingly enough, the Owls outgained the Knights 397-384. But that wasn’t interesting enough to get this game ranked higher. (My ranking: No. 10)

CS: This may come as a shock, but watching UCF’s second unit for almost two full quarters doesn’t exactly make for entertaining football. Blowout wins are cool, but I’m willing to bet that most of Knight Nation had tuned out by halftime. (My ranking: No. 11)

No. 10: UCF 51, Cincinnati 23 (Oct. 7)

BA: Full disclosure- I didn’t see this game because I was in Gainesville watching Florida lose to LSU. But from what I gathered out of highlights, this was another easy win for UCF that was never really in doubt. To top it off, there was no fourth quarter because of a storm that moved in. The most memorable thing about this game was that the Knights scored on every offensive possession. That’s impressive. (My ranking: No. 11)

CS: Full disclosure- I toyed with the idea of firing Bailey since he was supposed to cover this game for us before ditching to watch LSU. But he’s a pretty good guy so I decided to let him stick around. I actually had a good time watching UCF’s offensive explosion against Cincy, but it gets knocked since the game only lasted three quarters. Oh, and the Knights wore three separate colors for their helmet, jersey and pants, which is a design no-no. (My ranking: No. 9)

BA: Sue me.

No. 9: UCF 38, Maryland 10 (Sept. 23)

BA: This was a nice “P6” road win for UCF early in the season. The defense took advantage of Maryland trying to piece together its offense under direction of a third-string quarterback and the offense rolled. Mike Hughes put up a 57-yard pick six and the Knights exacted their revenge on the Terrapins after 2016’s double overtime loss in Orlando. (My ranking: No. 7)

CS: I ranked this game very low on my list for two big reasons: 1) I did not watch it. 2) Jawon Hamilton went down and ended up missing the rest of the season. However, this was the first game where people started to realize just how good UCF might be, and I guess that’s worth something. (My ranking: No. 10)

No. 8: UCF 73, Austin Peay 33 (Oct. 28)

BA: No one really expected this game to be much more than a blowout and sure, the Knights did win by 40. But the Governors (what a name, by the way) put up a serious fight. Austin Peay’s Kyran Moore alone was worth the price of admission, as he caught five passes for 130 yards and a touchdown while adding 233 kick return yards. This was a wildly fun contest, especially considering pregame expectations. (My ranking: No. 6)

CS: I would just like to take a moment to point out that Austin Peay scored more points against UCF than any team other than USF  and Memphis and somehow still missed the FCS Playoff. That’s almost as ridiculous as a 12-0 team with the best offense in the nation missing the College Football Playoff. Almost. (My ranking: No. 8)

No. 7: UCF 61, FIU 17 (Aug. 31)

BA: Season openers are almost always fun. In what was everyone’s first glimpse of this year’s team, UCF looked unstoppable. Quarterback McKenzie Milton silenced some doubters and the defense forced four turnovers. Especially compared to last year’s season opener (a dull 38-0 win over South Carolina State), this was a fun debut for the 2017 Knights. (My ranking: No. 8)

CS: This game will always be memorable for me because it was our first look at just how good Milton could become. I was completely underwhelmed by his freshman year but his performance against FIU forced me to hop off the Noah Vedral Hype Train and acknowledge that Milton could turn into something very special. (My ranking: No. 6)

No. 6: UCF 63, East Carolina 21 (Oct. 14)

BA: Other than the awe-inspiring space uniforms, I don’t remember a whole lot from this game. It was an easy homecoming win for UCF, but DID YOU SEE THOSE HELMETS??? This game’s uniforms alone almost made up for years of blandness. The game was fine. Christian will probably just fanboy even more than I did about uniforms. Don’t say I didn’t warn you. (My ranking: No. 9)

CS: UCF’S HELMETS IN THIS GAME WERE THE BEST HELMETS IN THE HISTORY OF COLLEGE FOOTBALL! I will never forgive Bailey for ranking this game so low. UCF could’ve lost by 50 and I still would have ranked this game top-five just because of those beautiful helmets. (My ranking: No. 3)

No. 5: UCF 31, SMU 24 (Nov. 4)

BA: This was UCF’s last big obstacle before the War on I-4, with SMU hanging tough all the way through. McKenzie Milton struggled and the defense gave up some big plays, but Adrian Killins ran for 145 yards and two touchdowns to spark the Knights. With all of the drama surrounding a potential mid-game departure by Scott Frost (no, not to go to Nebraska… to go home to be there for the birth of his son), there was a lot of tension in this game. (My ranking: No. 4)

CS: This was the only game all year that UCF won by a single possession and that by itself is incredibly impressive. It also was really the only time all year that fans had reason to question Milton, but the Knights were still able to pull out a win against a surprisingly feisty Mustangs team. (My ranking: No. 7)

No. 4: UCF 40, Memphis 13 (Sept. 30)

BA: This served as a statement game for UCF. It was the upstart Knights against the preseason AAC West favorite Tigers and it wasn’t close. One swing of momentum for the Knights in the second quarter changed everything. Leading just 9-7, UCF got a jolt from a 96-yard Adrian Killins touchdown run before a Mike Hughes interception that was then followed up by a McKenzie Milton touchdown pass to Tre’Quan Smith. It was suddenly 23-7 and the Knights didn’t look back. (My ranking: No. 5)

CS: This game could technically be classified as a “disappointment” since most fans were expecting a major clash between to offensive powerhouses. But I doubt any UCF fan was upset with the result, as the team clicked on both offense and defense to provide a game that was much more entertaining than the final score indicated. (My ranking: No. 5)

No. 3: UCF 31, Navy 21 (Oct. 21)

BA: After storming out to a 5-0 start, UCF faced its first real road test and rose to the occasion. The game-clinching sequence feels like an underrated and forgotten part of the 2017 season. Navy trailed by just three and was threatening to take a late lead before Brandon Moore forced and recovered a fumble after laying a huge hit. On the ensuing drive, Otis Anderson scored his first career touchdown to seal the victory. (My ranking: No. 3)

CS: I’m pretty sure that the “BOOM” Moore made when he forced that fumble was heard all the way back in Orlando. My windows might even have rattled a bit. What a play and what a game to keep UCF’s perfect season rolling. (My ranking: No. 4)

No. 2: UCF 62, Memphis 55 in double overtime (Dec. 2)

BA: It will always be hard for UCF fans to look back at this game and not remember that Scott Frost’s official departure came just hours after Tre Neal’s championship-clinching interception. But that shouldn’t take away from the insanity that unfolded in front of another packed Spectrum Stadium crowd. The nation’s top two offenses squared off and combined for 117 points and 1,479 passing yards. There was no shortage of drama, as UCF’s 17-7 lead turned into a 31-24 halftime deficit. A 14-point lead in the fourth quarter wasn’t enough for the Knights, as the Tigers stormed back to force overtime. After two extra frames, UCF emerged as the AAC Champions. It was an exhausting, but extremely thrilling. (My ranking: No. 2)

CS: I’m pretty sure that UCF fans’ hearts stopped at least a few different times that afternoon. I don’t know if I’ve ever watched such a crazy game, with so much at stake. Even though that game will forever be intertwined with Frost’s departure, it stands alone as a wildly entertaining championship game. I actually think it says a lot about UCF’s season that this game is only second on the list. In practically any other season the Knights have played, it surely would have ranked No. 1. (My ranking: No. 2)

No. 1: UCF 49, USF 42 (Nov. 24)

BA: There’s a reason this is widely considered as the best college football game of the year, and one of the best games across all of sports in 2017. Spectrum Stadium was sold out and the biggest War on I-4 matchup in the rivalry’s history lived up to the hype. It was a back-and-forth affair between with extreme highs and lows for UCF—with the ultimate high coming from a game-winning 95-yard kickoff return for a touchdown by Mike Hughes right after USF tied it at 42 with less than two minutes to go. USF quarterback Quinton Flowers almost willed the Bulls to victory on his own, but McKenzie Milton countered with one of his better games of the season. This was an instant classic that will go down as one of the top games in UCF history. (My ranking: No. 1)

CS: Mike Hughes literally ran his way into the UCF history books. I’m certain that I’ll be telling my future grandchildren about that play, which capped off the best game of football I have ever watched. No matter what happens against Auburn or in the years to come, the 2017 War on I-4 game will live on in UCF lore forever. (My ranking: No. 1)

Disagree with anything on our list? Where do you think Monday’s matchup with Auburn will land on this list? Let us know your thoughts.

About Bailey Adams 204 Articles
Bailey Adams is a senior writer covering UCF Football and Baseball for Knight Sports Now. You can follow him on Twitter at @BaileyJAdams22.