Football: Great Expectations

Knights almost a unanimous choice to claim the division crown.

Football: Great Expectations

A day after tying for the most selections on the Conference USA Preseason Team, UCF football dominated the preseason media poll released by the Houston Chronicle Tuesday. The Knights received 13 first-place votes as the favorite to win the East Division, followed by Southern Miss, which earned two. Houston was tagged to win the West Division as Tulsa and SMU were close behind.

The media poll, conducted by the Houston Chronicle, was made up of print reporters and radio representatives who regularly cover the league. C-USA does not conduct an official preseason poll.

UCF has eight starters returning on both offense and defense in 2012, along with a senior class which consists of 20 student-athletes. That class is highlighted by three-year starting safety Kemal Ishmael, who is a member of the Jim Thorpe Award Watch List (top defensive back in the nation); Theo Goins, who is on the Outland Trophy Watch List (top interior lineman); and Jordan Rae, who claimed a spot on the Rimington Trophy Watch List (top center).

Not only backed by an impressive senior group this year, the Black and Gold placed a C-USA-high six players on the league’s All-Freshman Team last season. The six selections were the most for a C-USA school since 2008. In 2011, UCF averaged 406.8 yards per game, the second-best production in eight years under head coach George O’Leary, while the defense surrendered just 303.3 yards per contest, the lowest by a UCF team dating back to 1990.

Since joining the league in 2005, UCF has claimed a pair of C-USA titles (2007, 2010), three East Division crowns (2005, 2007, 2010) and has advanced to four bowl games, highlighted by a victory over Georgia in the 2010 AutoZone Liberty Bowl.

The preseason media poll was released the day schools are traveling to Dallas for the 2012 C-USA Media Day, with the majority of the interviews set to take place Wednesday morning and afternoon.

2012 C-USA Preseason Media Poll

East Division

  1. UCF (13) – 85 points
  2. Southern Miss (2) – 70
  3. Marshall – 58
  4. East Carolina – 56
  5. UAB – 29
  6. Memphis – 17

West Division

  1. Houston (8) – 81 points
  2. Tulsa (4) – 73
  3. SMU (3) – 67
  4. UTEP – 39
  5. Rice – 35
  6. Tulane – 20

-First-place votes in parentheses

The Knights get the 2012 campaign underway at Akron Aug. 30 and at Ohio State Sept. 8 before hosting FIU Sept. 15 and Missouri Sept. 29. The C-USA opener is scheduled for Oct. 4 vs. East Carolina at Bright House Networks Stadium.

UCF football season tickets are currently available for as low as $140, while single-game tickets and flex plans are also on sale. For more information and to place an order, call the UCF Ticket Office at (407) 823-1000 or visit UCFAthletics.com. Attending a UCF football game is a great way to celebrate birthdays, corporate outings or any special occasion. Please ask about group packages today.