Sunday, April 22, 2018
Colleges

UCF’s foes in AAC title game: Memphis, and USF hangover

ORLANDO — Less than 72 hours after his team’s most emotionally charged win of the year, in a sold-out setting high on voltage, UCF coach Scott Frost assembled his players for a meter reading.

"My first question to ’em (Monday) morning was, ‘You got enough juice for one more?’?" Frost said. "And there was an enthusiastic response."

Response aside, one must wonder just how much figurative battery power that 49-42 victory against USF drained from the Knights and whether they can generate enough for one more winner-take-all showdown.

UCF (11-0) hosts Memphis (10-1) in today’s American Athletic Conference title game. The Knights embarrassed the Tigers 40-13 nine weeks ago, but Memphis hasn’t lost since, and it put up 70 on East Carolina last weekend.

It’s a similar dynamic to the one prevailing for No. 4 Auburn. The Tigers upset No. 1 Alabama 26-14 in last Saturday’s Iron Bowl, which doubles as that state’s Super Bowl. Now, Auburn must reboot in time for today’s SEC title game against No. 6 Georgia, a team it defeated by 23 three weeks ago.

For the Tigers and Knights, winning today might require more than a mere "Charge On," as UCF’s mantra puts it. Both must charge up, one more time.

"Hopefully they got some of the celebration out of ’em the last couple of days," Frost said Monday of his team. "I told ’em we’re done patting ourselves on the back over that game, it’s time to go back to work. They showed up, did a great job today."

The stakes alone probably are sufficient to jump-start the Knights. The game’s winner not only captures a conference title but the automatic New Year’s Six bowl berth awarded to the highest-ranked Group of Five champion.

UCF and Memphis were the two top Group of Five teams in the most recent College Football Playoff rankings; the Knights at No. 14, the Tigers at No. 20.

Moreover, a victory would cap the most sudden transformation in recent college football memory. UCF is seeking to go 12-0 only two years after finishing 0-12.

"It doesn’t really seem like it (has been tough to refocus) because when it comes to us focusing, it’s like we didn’t come all the way this far for no reason," UCF senior defensive end Jamiyus Pittman said.

"And it’s gonna seem like it was for no reason if we lose (today)."

Contact Joey Knight at [email protected] Follow @TBTimes_Bulls.

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