Coach: George O'Leary (22-28, fifth season; 74-61, 11th overall)
Conference: Conference USA
Last season: 10-4, 7-1 C-USA (conference champion)
Local ties: WR Jamar Newsome (Boca Ciega), QB Joe Weatherford (Land O'Lakes), RB Brynn Harvey (Largo), DB Jordan Becker (Clearwater Central Catholic), LB Tom Lewis (Osceola)
Stadium: Bright House Stadium (45,000)
Outlook: Fresh off a Conference USA title, UCF has adopted this theme for its media guide and season: "Champions Play Here." The challenge for the Knights is showing that the motto shouldn't be "Played Here." Gone is All-America running back Kevin Smith, who led the nation with 2,567 rushing yards, with a handful of freshmen competing to replace him. The Knights were picked to win their division again, but to win the league, they'll likely have to beat Tulsa, as they did twice in 2007 by a combined 40 points. The Knights have a tough nonleague schedule, with games at Boston College and Miami and a final shot against rival USF, which beat UCF 64-12 last year in Tampa. If UCF doesn't win the conference, the Knights could easily be headed to Tropicana Field for the inaugural St. Petersburg Bowl on Dec. 20.
Web site: ucfathletics.com
Greg Auman, Times staff writer
SaturdaySouth Carolina State6 p.m.
Sept. 6USF7 p.m.
Sept. 20at Boston CollegeTBA
Sept. 27at UTEP8:30 p.m.
Oct. 4SMU3:30 p.m.
Oct. 11at MiamiTBA
Oct. 26at Tulsa8 p.m.
Nov. 2East Carolina8 p.m.
Nov. 8Southern Miss3:30 p.m.
Nov. 15at Marshall4:30 p.m.
Nov. 22at MemphisTBA
Nov. 29UAB3:30 p.m.
Dec. 6Conference USA championshipTBA