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 2007.
UCF Football’s Best Game of 2007: 44-25 win vs. Tulsa (C-USA Championship Game)
The 2007 season was full of big moments for UCF. One happened prior to the season, as the team went from being the “Golden Knights” to just the “Knights.” Once the year got going, there was the Knights’ first win over an ACC opponent (a 25-23 win at North Carolina State). The following week, UCF opened its on-campus football stadium, Bright House Networks Stadium, with a 35-32 loss to No. 6 Texas. Just two games in, 2007 already felt special.
After the loss to Texas, UCF split its next four games and sat at 3-3 halfway through the year. From there, the Knights went on a roll, winning six straight to clinch their second Conference USA Championship Game berth in three seasons. This time around, they earned the right to host the conference title game, doing so against Tulsa in front of an announced crowd of 44,128. UCF made sure the fans had plenty to cheer about, winning 44-25 to pick up its first-ever conference championship.
The Knights got out to a quick start in the game, pulling ahead 10-0 with a 28-yard field goal by Michael Torres and an 83-yard punt return from Joe Burnett. The Golden Hurricane fired back quickly to go up 13-10, but then Kevin Smith took over. He ran for touchdowns on back-to-back drives in the second quarter, with one coming from three yards out and the other from 46.
Tulsa cut the deficit to 24-20 before Smith punched one in from four yards out. Tulsa added a late field goal in the first half, but UCF took a 31-23 lead into the locker room.
The scoring slowed down in the second half, as two Torres field goals and a safety from Tulsa brought the game to 37-25 in the fourth quarter. Smith made sure the Knights’ C-USA title dreams became a reality midway through the fourth, breaking off a 74-yard touchdown run to ice the game.
Smith finished the afternoon with 284 yards and four touchdowns. The 284 yards still stand as the second most for a single game in program history, only behind his 320 against UAB earlier in the season. His 450 carries and 2,567 rushing yards in 2007 led the entire nation, becoming the second Knight to earn votes for the Heisman Trophy. For his efforts, he became the program’s first-ever consensus All-American. The Miami Southridge product got some love from ESPN after the C-USA Championship Game:
The victory over Tulsa was UCF’s 10th win of the year, which marked its first 10-win season since joining FBS in 1996. The Knights got their second bowl invite in three seasons, though they fell 10-3 to Mississippi State in the Liberty Bowl.
For previous Throwback Thursdays from Knight Sports Now, click here.