ORLANDO — UCF was ranked No. 23 in the coaches poll and No. 25 in the Associated Press poll Sunday, vaulting into the Top 25 for the first time in school history.
While Florida is No. 24 in both polls, Florida State and Miami are unranked.
"It's hard to get there. It's harder to stay there," UCF coach George O'Leary said. "That's the big thing and what I'll press upon the kids.
"Once you get into the Top 25, I've yet to see teams win and not stay there. It's when you don't win you get bumped."
Some players were eating at a supermarket deli when they heard the news.
"A lot of high-fiving. People were excited," senior DE Bruce Miller said. "There was a lot of people there who thought we were weird. … I definitely think we deserve it.''
The Knights (7-2, 5-0) are the only team unbeaten in Conference USA. They vaulted into the national rankings with wins against East Carolina and Houston and are in prime position to host the league title game.
USF: Big East hopes
TAMPA — Normally, opening a conference season with two losses can put an end to a football team's motivation of playing for a league championship.
Not so for USF — or really anyone in the Big East — as the league standings have a logjam with seven teams all with two conference losses behind Pittsburgh, which is 3-0 but has three of its four remaining games on the road.
"There are a lot of scenarios that can happen — if this, then this, but when you look at the Big East right now, it's wide-open," coach Skip Holtz said after Sunday's practice. "It's still anybody's ball game at this point. I think everybody, every team in the Big East right now, I'm sure mathematically, can win this thing. That's very uncommon this late in the year, but I think it shows the great parity and balance in the league. "
None of the league's eight teams is bowl-eligible yet — USF and four others need one more win to be eligible, and all eight teams have a shot at a postseason appearance, which makes for more on the line than other conferences where teams are out of contention.
INJURY UPDATE: Holtz said that B.J. Daniels was back and "full go" at practice after wearing a boot on his right foot Thursday as the quarterback was limited by turf toe. RBs Mo Plancher and Demetris Murray practiced as they nurse knee injuries, though two starters were held out with boots on their injured ankles— LT Jamar Bass and S Jerrell Young. Young said he expects to play Saturday against Louisville.
HELD OUT: Holtz said true freshman RB Marcus Shaw isn't practicing with the team as he takes time to improve his work in the classroom.
Shaw, a contributor on most of the special teams units, has been held out of the past two games and will continue to be held out until his academics improve.
"He's fallen behind academically," Holtz said. "I think he's a very talented young man who can help this football team. … He needs to learn now that there's a term 'student-athlete' and it's not professional. He has to handle his classroom. He's had a great attitude with it all."
Greg Auman, Times staff writer
UF: Return of Spurrier
GAINESVILLE — South Carolina coach Steve Spurrier this week returns to UF, his alma mater and the school he led to a national championship during his 12-year tenure, trying to derail the Gators' SEC East hopes.
And while the Spurrier angle will be the topic of much conversation this week, he was adamant Sunday that this game is not about him.
"This is about South Carolina trying to do something, not me personally,'' Spurrier said. "We want to be competitive, and it is sort of neat that we are in this position. I told somebody the other day if we could play Florida for the division every year that would suit me fine, and hopefully we can win a few of them.''
Antonya English, Times staff writer
FSU: Escaping injuries
TALLAHASSEE — The Seminoles had no significant injuries during Saturday's loss to North Carolina.
RB Ty Jones, a former Middleton High standout, didn't play but coach Jimbo Fisher said Jones wasn't hurt.
UM: Harris likely out
CORAL GABLES — Miami starting QB Jacory Harris (concussion) is expected to miss a second straight game, Saturday at Georgia Tech, but hasn't been ruled out.
TE Asante Cleveland, CB Lee Chambers, SS JoJo Nicolas, LT Orlando Franklin and RB Lamar Miller were injured during Saturday's win at Maryland, but the extent of their injuries isn't clear.
South Florida Sun Sentinel