Season in shambles after Knights’ home loss to Tulsa

Five game home win streak – over. No defensive touchdowns allowed at home – over. Season – over?
The University of Central Florida Knights now find themselves reliant on other Conference-USA teams, as they no longer control their own destiny following the 24-17 loss to Tulsa at Brighthouse Networks Stadium Thursday night.
“It was a game about making plays, and we obviously didn’t make enough,” said UCF head coach George O’Leary. “We gave up too many big run plays on defense, and there were too many missed tackles.”
Entering Thursday’s game, the Knights out-gained their opponents 1,874 – 524, when in Orlando.  UCF gained more than 524 yards, two weeks ago alone against Memphis.
Tulsa quarterback G.J. Kinne helped the Golden Hurricane to 454 total offensive yards. This was the first time since the second week of the season (Boston College-141) UCF has allowed more than 135 yards.
It was a very different story for the Knights on Thursday. Kinne not only out-passed all other UCF home opponents with 203 yards, but he individually out-rushed opponents total rushing yards with 92.
“He is a good quarterback. He made the plays when they had to make them,” said O’Leary.
UCF began the first four home games undefeated, despite being winless on the road. Tulsa was the first real challenge for UCF at home.
Prior to Thursday, they outscored their opponents 149-9, but those four teams have a combined record of 7-27.
Tulsa on the other hand, is in first place in the C-USA West, with a perfect conference record of 5-0. Their overall record is 6-3, and all three losses were to ranked opponents (Oklahoma, Oklahoma State and Boise State).
“A loss is a loss. We had some opportunities against Tulsa, but we didn’t take them,” said O’Leary.
As defending C-USA champions, UCF wants to make it back to the title game and defend their championship.
“We’ve still got games left,” said cornerback Josh Robinson. “We just going to work hard to be conference champs. I’m not sure if that can happen, but we’re going to work hard to get there.”
The Knights have two hard-conference road games coming up. Its going to be tough, but it is possible for UCF to reach its goal.
The first, of which is now a three game season for the Knights, is  a game against Southern Mississippi. The Golden Eagles have an overall record of 8-1, and are the leaders of the East Division with a conference record of 4-1.
Last season, the Knights were shutting out the Golden Eagles 14-0, until they allowed 31 unanswered points and fell 31-21. USM also leads the all-time series, 5-1.
“Kids are very resilient,” said O’Leary. “We’ll cover the loss tomorrow with them, and show them the film. But everything after that is all about Southern Miss.”
If the Knights make it past the Golden Eagles, their next game becomes all the more important. Though its the easier of the two road games, East Carolina will still be a daunting challenge for UCF.
Prior to their 48-28 loss against USM Saturday night, East Carolina was riding a three game win streak. They, like the Knights, are still fighting to win the East division.
UCF scored seven touchdowns on their way to a 49-35 win when the two teams faced off last season, and managed to convert on 9-of-11 third down chances with the help of Ronnie Weaver’s 180 yards.
The Knights will wrap up the season at home against UTEP. With a conference record of 1-4, the Miners find themselves battling Tulane to not finish in the cellar of the West division.
The Knights not only must win all three games if they want a chance at postseason football, but they need a lot of help too. Provided the Knights win out, they would need SMU to lose one more game.
In addition to a Golden Eagle loss, a Marshall loss would be very beneficial to the Knights. This may be the easiest of the three tasks, as the Thundering Herd travel to Tulsa next weekend.
Its been an up and down season for the Knights so far, but their real test lies in the final three weeks. While they don’t control their own destiny, they certainly can help shape it.