| No. 12|| No. 10|
| American Athletic Conference|
12–1 (8–0 The American)
George O'Leary (10th year)
Charlie Taaffe (5th year)
The 2013 UCF Knights football team represented the University of Central Florida in the 2013 NCAA Division I FBS football season. The Knights were members of the American Athletic Conference (The American), and played their home games at Bright House Networks Stadium on UCF's main campus in Orlando, Florida. The Knights were led by head coach George O'Leary, who was in his tenth season with the team.
The 2013 season marked UCF's first as a member of the American Athletic Conference. The Knights were previously members of C-USA from 2005 to 2012, the MAC from 2002 to 2004, and were an independent from 1996 to 2001. UCF was originally barred from postseason play for the 2012 season due to recruiting violations in both football and basketball under previous athletic director Keith Tribble. The university was able to persuade the NCAA to postpone the postseason ban until the 2013 season, while they filed an appeal. In April 2013, the university won their appeal, the postseason ban was dropped entirely, and the team became bowl-eligible for the 2013–14 season.
The season was the most successful in program history, highlighted by six second-half, come-from-behind victories. Four games were won by scores inside the final five minutes, and another was won by a last-second goal line stand, earning the team the nickname the "Cardiac Knights." The Knights secured the program's fifth ten-win season (1990, 2007, 2010, 2012, 2013). It was the fourth such in FBS, as well as the fourth under O'Leary, and the first twelve-win season in school history. Thirrteen starters from the 2013 season would later play in the NFL, including two first-round Draft picks.
Quarterback Blake Bortles led the program to its first victories over teams from the Big Ten and Big 12 conferences, by defeating Penn State and Baylor respectively. Bortles also led the Knights to their first win over a Top–10 team, upsetting eighth-ranked Louisville on their homecoming 38–35. The Knights won The American's first football championship under its new name (it had previously been the Big East), and the third conference championship in school history (2007, 2010, 2013). With the championship, UCF earned The American's automatic berth to a BCS bowl game, the first major bowl appearance in school history. The Knights were victorious in the Fiesta Bowl, upsetting the sixth-ranked Baylor Bears 52–42 for the first BCS bowl victory in program history. It was considered one of biggest upsets in BCS history.
Coach (defensive coordinator) Jim Fleming departed the program in December 2013 to become the head coach at Rhode Island and did not coach with the team in their Fiesta Bowl appearance. All games were broadcast live on the UCF-IMG radio network. The Knights flagship station was WYGM "740 The Game" in Orlando.
2013 UCF Knights football team Wikipedia
The 2013 schedule was officially released by The American on February 5, 2013. The 2013 schedule was developed as a "bridge" schedule for the 2013 and 2014 seasons, as a permanent system will be developed by the conference to address expanded membership and the creation of divisions by 2015. UCF will face eight conference opponents: Connecticut, Houston, Louisville, Memphis, Rutgers, SMU, South Florida, and Temple. They are also scheduled to play four non-conference games: Akron (MAC), FIU (C-USA), Penn State (Big Ten), and South Carolina (SEC).
UCF is one of only nineteen FBS schools, and the only member of The American, to not play an opponent from the FCS. The Knights will have three bye weeks in the 2013 season: their first during week four, before facing South Carolina, the second during week seven, before facing Louisville, and the third during week ten, before facing Houston.
The Knights entered the season unranked in the preseason polls. The team slowly ascended in both the AP and Coaches' polls receiving votes and finally reaching the top 25 after their key victory at Louisville on October 18. The first BCS standings released in week 8 saw the Knights ranked 23rd. The team also entered the top 25 of the Harris poll the same week. The Knights elevated to 15th in the AP poll two weeks later, their highest individual ranking in school history to date.
Despite winning head-to-head on the road in a nationally televised game, UCF ranked behind Louisville in the Coaches' poll until the final week of the regular season. This drew some ire of media and fans. The team slipped a couple spots in all three polls after their last second, come-from-behind victory at Temple, a game in which they struggled most of the early going. By the end of the regular season, the Knights had rebounded to cement themselves as 15th across the board in the AP, Coaches, and Harris polls. They were ranked 15th in the final BCS standings.
Following their victory in the Fiesta Bowl, the Knights were voted 10th in the final AP poll, and 12th in the final Coaches' poll. It was the highest respective ranking in each poll in school history.Blake Bortles — American Athletic Conference Offensive Player of the Year
Blake Bortles — Sporting News American Athletic Conference Player of the Year
George O'Leary — American Athletic Conference Coach of the Year
George O'Leary — Sporting News American Athletic Conference Coach of the Year
American Athletic Conference First Team: Jordan McCray, Justin McCray, Blake Bortles, Storm Johnson, Terrance Plummer, Jacoby Glenn
American Athletic Conference Second Team: J.J. Worton, Chris Martin, William Stanback, Shawn Moffitt, Clayton Geathers
Sporting News All-AAC Offensive Team: Blake Bortles, Storm Johnson, Jordan McCray, Chris Martin
Sporting News All-AAC Defensive Team: Terrance Plummer, Jacoby Glenn, Clayton Geathers
Sports Illustrated All-America Team (Honorable mention): Blake Bortles, Terrance Plummer, Shawn Moffitt
September 16: Blake Bortles
October 21: Storm Johnson
November 18: J.J. Worton
September 2: Terrance Plummer
October 7: Terrance Plummer
November 11: Brandon Alexander
December 9: Clayton Geathers
October 28: Shawn Moffitt
December 2: Rannell Hall
Fiesta Bowl National Team of the Week — Week of October 20
Manning Award Player of the Week—Blake Bortles
Davey O'Brien Award — Blake Bortles (semifinalist)
Lou Groza Award — Shawn Moffitt (semifinalist)
Maxwell Football Club Collegiate Coach of the Year — George O'Leary (semifinalist)
Eddie Robinson Coach of the Year — George O'Leary (finalist)
ESPN Sport Science Newton Award: "Best Catch" — J.J. Worton (vs. Temple)
Best record: 11–1 (regular season), 12–1 (final including bowl game)
Best away record: 7-0 (including bowl game)
Best regular season conference record: 8–0
Longest winning streak: 9 games
Most wins by senior class: 38 (2010–2013)
Highest ranking: #15 (BCS), #10 (AP), #12 (Coaches), #15 (Harris)
Most field goals made, season: Shawn Moffitt, 21
On January 5, 2014, quarterback Blake Bortles announced that he would forgo his senior season of collegiate eligibility and enter the NFL Draft. Running back Storm Johnson also declared his eligibility for the draft.
Two former players were selected in the 2014 NFL Draft:
Three former players signed as undrafted free agents: