The Fiesta Bowl—Was it Really a Loss?

LSU 40 - UCF 32

The Fiesta Bowl game is what ended our 745-day streak. But is the Fiesta Bowl something to really be upset about? Win or lose, Knight Nation came and conquered, and our team proved that we are more than just a Power Five school. 

Since our first undefeated season, UCF has been at the receiving end of much backlash. Our claim to being the National Champions has been mocked endlessly when in reality, we respectfully deserved to be in the playoff and earned the title. Continuing on to our second undefeated season, we were still receiving negative comments. 

“Why are we focusing on just UCF when it comes to the Power 5 because I think there are other teams out there that are as deserving or more deserving?” - Kirk Herbstreit

ESPN commentators, such as Kirk Herbstreit, have been at our throats for so long and continue to be. If we really look at the statistics though, UCF is probably one of the MOST deserving teams—and here's why:

1. We won 25 consecutive games

By now everyone knows that UCF has had the longest running streak in the nation. With back-to-back undefeated seasons, we should have already earned a higher degree of respect.

2. The bowl game was lost by only one possession 

According to commentators and the committee UCF, needs to play the "big guys" in football before even being taken into consideration for the playoff. UCF played LSU, which is considered to be one of those bigger teams, and we fought 'till the end. We ended the game with an eight point difference in comparison to other "bigger" teams like the Georgia Bulldogs, who lost to LSU by 20 points.

3. Mack Jr. amazingly stepped in when Milton suffered an injury

Darriel Mack Jr. is only a freshman who played two full games and half of one within his career as a college quarterback. Some want to exclaim that without Milton, we suffered. While this is, true we have to credit Mack Jr. for his performance. He showed up for half of that game against USF and helped lead us to victory, and then again in our championship game against Memphis. For a freshman who's hardly played, he did a great job under all of that pressure!

4. The Knightmare ALWAYS shows up

Regardless of our struggle during the Fiesta Bowl game, we fought until the end. The Knights did not waver even in the last few seconds of the game. Our team continued to play with all that they had and Knight Nation did not lose heart even during those last moments. We all will travel anywhere, watch from any destination for our team, and we are entirely one of the most spirited communities.

From beating the ACC and SEC runners-up to beating the Big 12 champ and never losing heart, the Knights deserve respect. We have gotten so far in such a short amount of time—from 0-12 to back-to-back undefeated seasons—and there's no doubt that UCF is a strong team. We deserve more positive commentary and more of a chance. It isn't a secret that the system is rigged and there's so much talk about UCF needing to play "bigger" teams. If this is the case, then why don't you give us a shot? We can't play these teams if we aren't given the chance. Our schedule is laughed at and we're making it known we want it changed. After all of our accomplishments and efforts, the commentators still only see us as a mockery and want to continue bashing us. Well, Knight Nation isn't weak and we'll continue to grow as a team and as a fanbase knowing what we are capable of.

The UCF Knights WILL come back stronger, WILL keep fighting, and WILL continue winning again. We will prove further why we DESERVE to be respected and disprove the way that these commentators have attempted to discredit our team's accomplishments. 

Until next season, sweet dreams...the Knightmare will be back. 

Images: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5 - Kyle Krietemeyer