The Central Florida Golden Knights knew that when they stepped between the painted white lines of the Liberty Bowl stadium on Saturday, they had already achieved one major goal for their 2010 season. However, they definitely didn’t want to allow the history books to show that they backdoored their way into a significant accomplishment.
When Tulsa beat Southern Miss on Friday night, Coach George O’Leary’s club knew that it would be playing beyond its regularly-scheduled 12-game slate. However, the boys from Orlando wanted to make sure that they put their stamp of authority on a genuinely successful three-month run.
Latavious Murray rushed for two touchdowns, as UCF – already assured of the Conference USA East Division title – validated the honor by taking care of business against an inferior foe. The Golden Knights prepared for the C-USA Championship Game by defeating the Memphis Tigers by 20 points on Saturday in the very same ballpark where they might contest the Liberty Bowl game in roughly one month’s time.
Murray’s first touchdown, a four-yard burst up the middle, put the Knights up 16-7, a lead they took into the second half. As is their modus operandi, the hapless Tigers fumbled the second-half kickoff, which UCF turned into six points when Murray scored on a seven-yard run. Nick Cattoi converted the point after touchdown, extending the UCF lead to 23-7.
The Knights finished off the Tigers in style, as frosh signal caller Jeff Godfrey tossed touchdown passes of 56 and 23-yards to Jamar Newsome, staking the Knights to 37-10 fourth-quarter lead. Godfrey was outstanding all game, completing 14-of-17 passes for 253 yards and two touchdowns without an interception to earn an astronomical 246.2 quarterback rating for the game. As if the near-perfect game throwing the ball wasn’t enough, Godfrey also ran for a touchdown, capping a six-play, 85-yard first quarter drive by racing in from nine yards out to give the Knights a 7-0 lead.
UCF limited Memphis to only 295 yards of total offense. Marcus Rucker continued his superb play, catching six passes for 81 yards and one touchdown, but his battery-mate, Ryan Williams didn’t fare so well, getting sacked four times and intercepted twice.
Realizing that Memphis has been an abysmal team throughout 2010 (the Tigers won only one game), you might think that winning by only 20 represents a poor performance for UCF. That’s not quite the case. Because the East title was already wrapped up before kickoff, O’Leary and his staff lightened up the playbook and eased the Knights into next week’s C-USA title tilt with SMU in Orlando. On Dec. 4, the playbook will open up, and a team from the Sunshine State will try to claim sweet victory as the best team in Conference USA.