All season long UCF head coach George O'Leary talked about the goals the Knights set for themselves and what they want to accomplish in their final season in Conference USA. On Saturday, UCF will have a chance to accomplish one of their major goals, which is to win its third conference championship.
"They have a chance to reach that and that's all that really needs to be said because their goal meant something when they made it," O'Leary said during his weekly press conference. "It's important because you only get to play for a certain amount of championships, especially if you're a college player."
For the third time in the conference championship game the Knights will take face the Tulsa Golden Hurricane, but it will be the first time UCF will play the game at H.A. Chapman Stadium. Just two weeks ago, the squad traveled to Tulsa, Oklahoma for a regular season match up and came up short 23-21.
A win in the game will not only give the Knights a conference record third championship, but also a trip to the Liberty Bowl in Memphis, Tennessee. Last time UCF went to that bowl the squad came away with a historic 10-6 win over current SEC power house Georgia.
"The only thing we talk about as a football team is getting to Memphis," O'Leary said. "We never really discussed anything else."
Last contest against the Golden Hurricane, the Knights gave up 461 yards of total offense to the run heavy Tulsa offense. The defense has been working hard to improve their performance from that contest and seniors like Kemal Ishmael and Troy Davis are two of the many players O'Leary wants to see above average performances from.
"The good ones play big in big games. The average guys who are role players need to play good. That's the difference between winning the conference championship and losing it," O'Leary said. "You expect your players to play well, plus the average guys have a role on the team. That's what separates winning and losing conference games."
Coach O'Leary has always stressed to his players people remember the championship games and Saturday's match up will give this year's Knights a chance to be remembered forever in the program's final game in Conference USA.
"It's another game. It's another championship," O'Leary said. "That's the goal and I think since we're leaving the conference it would be a good way to say goodbye. I like Conference USA. They've treated us very well and I appreciate what they've done for our program and to get us started."
"Those are the games you remember," O'Leary continued. "You don't remember some of the other games, but you do remember the championship games."