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January 7, 2014

UCF finishes with top 10 ranking

UCF coach George O'Leary laid out his vision ten years ago.

During his initial meeting in late 2003 with school president Dr. John C. Hitt and other search committee members, the former Bobby Dodd National Coach of the Year saw no reason why the Knights couldn't compete in the upper echelon of college football.

"If all you want is top 25, I'm not interested," O'Leary was reported to have said. "I think you should think about the top 10."

In 10 seasons, O'Leary has led UCF to six bowl games, three bowl victories including a BCS bowl win, three conference championships, two additional division titles and four seasons of 10 or more wins.

After last Wednesday's 52-42 stomping of No. 6 Baylor in the Tostitos Fiesta Bowl, O'Leary can add that top 10 finish to his list of achievements.

In the final Associated Press Top 25 for 2013, UCF finished with their highest ranking in school history at No. 10.

The 12-1 Knights join Florida State, Auburn, Michigan State, South Carolina, Missouri, Oklahoma, Alabama, Clemson and Oregon in the top 10 and easily could've warranted a higher position. UCF was 2-0 against teams ranked in the top 10 at the time (Louisville, Baylor) and their only loss was a three-point setback to South Carolina, who finished at No. 4.

According to PollSpeak.com, AP voters slotted UCF as high as No. 5 and as low as No. 15. FOX analyst and Orlando resident Charles Davis was among the three voters to put the Knights at fifth. UCF received the most ninth-place votes with 13.

Inexplicably, two voters ranked Baylor ahead of UCF: Scott Rabalais of the Baton Rouge Advocate (12. Baylor, 14. UCF) and Patrick Brown of the Chattanooga Times (10. Baylor, 13. UCF).

UCF was ranked No. 12 in the final USA Today Coaches Top 25.

With many key players returning in 2014, the Knights have a great shot to appear in next season's preseason top 25 even with quarterback Blake Bortles and running back Storm Johnson declaring for the NFL Draft.

Paul Myerberg of USA Today ranks UCF as his No. 21 team for 2014 and in his "Way-Too-Early Top 25 for 2014," ESPN.com's Mark Schlabach ranked UCF No. 24.

The 2014 season gets underway on Aug. 30 in Dublin, Ireland as the Knights travel across the pond to take on Penn State.



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