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UCF routed by Michigan, but shows some promise

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Not many outside the Central Florida players, coaches and die-hards thought the Knights would threaten the No. 5 Michigan Wolverines. Michigan rolled to a 51-14 win at home on Saturday, but there are some positive takeaways for Knights’ Coach Scott Frost.

The Wolverines piled up a 31-0 lead early in the second quarter and made Central Florida look bad in the process. Two fumbles, two blocked punts and a blocked field goal made the UCF faithful cringe and wonder how bad it was going to be.

To their credit, they kept fighting. About four minutes into the second quarter freshman running back Adrian Killins broke free for an 87-yard touchdown scamper down the sideline to make it 31-7.

After Michigan scored the first 10 points of the third quarter, the Knights again showed some character. Dontravious Wilson took it 34 yards for an impressive touchdown midway through the third to make it 44-14.

Michigan dominated through the air, but UCF piled up 275 yards on the ground while the Wolverines had 119. Michigan had less than 100 rushing yards against Central Florida’s number one defensive unit.

The Knights can make the case that if they take better care of the ball and perform better on special teams, they can compete with most teams in their conference.

Michigan Coach Jim Harbaugh had commentators, if not UCF, wondering what he was doing with his personnel. With his team up by 30 points in the fourth quarter, he still had starting quarterback Wilton Speight in the game.

Speight wound up throwing his fourth touchdown pass to put his team ahead 51-14. The Michigan first unit defense was still in the game in the final period as well.

Harbaugh may have wanted his relatively inexperienced quarterback and other starters to gain more experience. He will likely be accused of running up the score by some.

In last week’s rout of Hawaii, Harbaugh used 79 players. His first units were nowhere near the field in the fourth quarter.

Heading into the game, many Michigan fans wanted the Wolverines to punish UCF Coach Frost for comments he made toward Michigan 20 years ago while quarterbacking the Nebraska Cornhuskers.

All of that aside, there is plenty of reason for optimism for the Central Florida program. Even if they lose their share of games this year, they are clearly a much more entertaining team to watch. After going winless last year, UCF heads to Syracuse next Saturday with a 1-1 record.

If Frost and his staff can recruit, they should be a force in the American Athletic Conference sooner rather than later.

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Bob Sparks is President of Ramos and Sparks Group, a Tallahassee-based business and political consulting firm. During his career, he has directed media relations and managed events for professional baseball, served as chief spokesperson for the Republican Party of Florida as well as the Florida Department of Environmental Protection and the Attorney General of Florida. After serving as Executive Deputy Chief of Staff for Governor Charlie Crist, he returned to the private sector working with clients including the Republican National Committee and political candidates in Japan. He lives in Tallahassee with his wife, Sue and can be reached at Bob@ramos-sparks.com.

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