Charge On, UCF!

I’ve cheered for UCF ever since Meghan enrolled at the University of Central Florida in 2002 except in the games when they competed against the University of Miami. This season, UCF hit the big time, and to celebrate their success, I asked Meghan to share the highs and lows of a Knights’ fan.Image 4

Twelve seasons ago I became a Knight when I stepped onto UCF’s campus as a freshman. It hasn’t always been easy to be a UCF fan. During that time, there was a 17 game losing streak. We struggled to put together back to back winning seasons. ESPN announcers continued to refer to us by the wrong name and the wrong mascot (we were called the “Black Knights” during the Fiesta Bowl).  I can’t tell you how many times UCF has been referred to as a “sleeping giant” at the beginning of the season.

However, despite all of this, I have to say it’s been an amazing time to be a UCF fan.  I remember how pumped we were when UCF joined the MAC my freshman year.  But that didn’t compare to the enthusiasm that came with joining the Big East (now AAC) in 2013.  I recall the excitement of the first CUSA Championship we played in at the Citrus Bowl in 2005 and our first bowl game that Christmas Eve.

UCF's 1st touchdown; 1979 vs. St. Leo College  photo: Daniel Easter
UCF’s 1st touchdown; 1979 vs. St. Leo College
photo: Daniel Easter

Then in 2007, the Knights came home to a beautiful stadium on campus. In our first game at Brighthouse Networks Stadium, we lost to Texas 35-32 in the rain. The funny thing is, that game felt like a win to many UCF fans.  We fought hard. Texas was expected to win easily. Nothing could dampen our spirits.

That same season we went on to win the CUSA Championship and play in the Liberty Bowl. In the time between then and the 2013 season, UCF won another CUSA title and played in three more bowl games, including a big bowl game victory over Georgia in the 2010 Liberty Bowl.

However, none of this could have prepared UCF fans for this season. Expectations were managed in the pre-season with talks of a young defense. The excitement began to build as UCF won its third game of the season 34-31 on the road against Penn State. The people surrounding us in the Key West bar where we watched the game were stunned by UCF’s first upset of the year.Image 5

South Carolina handed us our only loss of the season (28-25) two weeks later. But this was still a UCF team unlike others. The Knights went on to win the remainder of the regular season, including a huge upset at Louisville. The team even picked up a couple Sports Center Top 10 highlights along the way.

Then on January 1, 2014, UCF became the youngest school to play in a BCS bowl game. The analysts didn’t give the Knights a shot against sixth ranked Baylor. The Vegas line had UCF  a 17 point underdog. What they didn’t account for was the Knights have a tendency to play to the level of their competition.

UCF got off to a quick two touchdown lead in the Fiesta Bowl.  Baylor came back to tie the game, but for only the second time this season, the Bears never took the lead. UCF beat one of the best offenses in the country by ten points to become to win the school’s first BCS bowl game.  Knights’ fans enjoyed a season of unforgettable, thrilling victories.

Fans got the chance to welcome their team home and thank them for a memorable season when they returned to campus last Thursday. They stood in the rain, decked out in sombreros and UCF apparel while holding signs and flags to greet their team.  Players signed autographs, took pictures, and smiled from ear to ear.  I’m excited to see what’s to come in UCF’s next 50 years.

Charge on!

Meghan

Celebrating the Knights at Culpepper’s

The UCF Knights football team made history this week. They broke into the top 15 nationally ranked teams on the weekly poll of Associated Press. With two Knights in the family, this feat deserved to be recognized and how better to celebrate than to eat at Culpepper’s located on University just down the street from UCF.

Culpepper’s is an upscale Knights themed sports bar named for the Knights’ most famous alum, Daunte Culpepper.

The restaurant was quiet on Monday afternoon when we stopped in for lunch before departing Orlando, but that’s not the case on game days when fans flock to Culpepper’s to watch the game over food and drinks.

We enjoyed the Buffalo Chicken Dip appetizer as well as the French Dip sandwich and fries and although a little pricey for the type of food served, we would definitely return.

 

Congratulations Knights!

 

It’s Football Season in Florida!

IMG_0778Tonight Meghan, Jon, and friends will join UCF fans as the Knights kick off the college football season in their game against the Akron Zips. It’s a big night, not only for fans of the Knights but for college football fans everywhere.

Then on Monday night Sarah and Daniel will cheer on the Seminoles as they take the field against Pitt closing the opening weekend of the 2013 season. It’s officially football season.

I’ll have my eye on Friday night’s game. Usually you’ll find me cheering for the Miami Hurricanes, John’s alma mater, but tomorrow will be a different story since my alma mater, FAU, Florida Atlantic University, takes on the Hurricanes in their season opener…a first!

My closet is full of orange and green Hurricane attire, but tomorrow I’ll don my one and only red FAU shirt and cheer on the Owls, something I couldn’t do as a student since FAU’s 2001 inaugural season  came over twenty years after my graduation.IMG_0735

Friday, for the first time we’ll be a house divided.

Recently, Emily (another Hurricane alum) sent an email entitled 40 Signs You’re a Miami Hurricane…a fun series of photos which bring Hurricane fans together.

Well, the Hurricanes aren’t the only ones with bragging rights in the state. In response I’ve put together a series of photos which bring Owl fans together.

Sure, Hurricanes flash the universal “U”, but Owl fans…including the President…show their “owl fingers”

FAU is the ONLY university in the state undefeated in Bowl Games with an all-time record of 2-0 and with the first bowl win coming in only the sixth season.

And speaking of Bowl Games, the Owls were the ONLY Florida team to win a bowl game in 2007.

  • New Orleans Bowl: FAU 44 – Memphis 27
  • Liberty Bowl: Mississippi State 10 – UCF 3
  • Sun Bowl: Oregon 56 – USF 21
  • Music City Bowl: Kentucky 35 – FSU 28
  • Capital One Bowl: Michigan 41 – UF 35
  • And UM? Oh, they didn’t make it to a bowl game in 2007.

Like the Hurricanes, we hate this man too…so much so that we’ve never let him stand on the sidelines during a game.ShapiroAnd like the Hurricanes we love this man…he chose FAU over UM.Howard Schnellenberger

Finally, we have something the Hurricanes will never have…not at the Orange Bowl…not at Sun Life Stadium…FAU has a stadium on campus.

Friday will be a first. I’ll be cheering for the Hurricane’s opponent. May the best team win!