The 1998 UCF Golden Knights football season was Mike Kruczek's first as the head coach of the Golden Knights. Kruczek led UCF to its best season ever with a 9–2 record in 1998. Daunte Culpepper finished 6th in the Heisman Trophy voting and set the NCAA record for completion percentage that year (73.4%).
UCF started out with a bang, routing Louisiana Tech and Eastern Illinois. Daunte Culpepper accounted for seven touchdowns against Eastern Illinois, earning him the USA Today Player of the Week honors. At 2-0, the Golden Knights faced Purdue On September 19. It was UCF's first game nationally-televised on ESPN. The Golden Knights faltered, however, and lost 35-7. Twice the Golden Knights were deep inside the red zone, but a pick-six interception and a turnover on downs were the results.
On November 7 at Auburn, the team experienced one of the most heartbreaking losses in school history. UCF entered with a record of 7-1, and hoped for a huge upset, working towards a possible at-large bowl bid. The Knights led 6-3 late in the game when inside the red zone, quarterback Daunte Culpepper fumbled away a bad shotgun snap. Auburn recovered, and quickly drove down the field. With one minute left, Auburn scored a go-ahead 58-yard touchdown pass. Karsten Bailey eluded a tackle at midfield, and managed a tightrope run down the sidelines for the game-winning score.
Following the disappointment at Auburn, UCF returned home to rout Ball State and New Mexico and finished with an impressive 9–2 record. UCF received a tentative verbal agreement to play in the Oahu Bowl. However, the arrangement fell through in the final week of the season, when Miami upset undefeated UCLA, dashing UCF's hopes for its first bowl appearance.
Following the season, Culpepper was drafted with the 11th pick in the first round by the Minnesota Vikings, marking the highest ever draft pick of a UCF player to that point until Blake Bortles would break it in 2014 as the 3rd pick of the Jacksonville Jaguars.