With only one game versus a Power Five program during the 2021 season, there can be several different ways to approach the evaluation of the Louisville game. Obviously the UCF Football team wants to win the game. There will be plenty of analysis about that fact moving forward. As it relates to the other aspect of the game that truly matters, that would be recruiting. Here’s why.
Louisville plays in the Atlantic Coast Conference (ACC), finds itself on television during almost every game in the past ten years, and it’s recently had a Heisman Trophy winner -- Lamar Jackson in 2016 -- as well as finishing No. 13 in the final college football rankings that same year. While not a perennial college football power broker such as Alabama or Ohio State, Louisville certainly is a known commodity with recruits. That’s why beating the Cardinals and not just having a good showing on September 17th is an absolute must for UCF.
Yes, there’s a lot of pressure placed on one game. That’s because college football is anything but fair (as UCF fans certainly already know). Adults usually do not get to make the final call with this discussion about where a recruit signs his letter of intent to play college football; 17-year olds make the final call.
Perception matters. Recruits want to go where they believe there’s maximum exposure, a chance to play with excellent players already in college, and a chance to reach the NFL. From traveling around Florida, Texas, Georgia, and Alabama this year alone, those three aforementioned points are like a broken record with recruits. Over and over and over. Here’s the latest “Who’s Next?” Football Recruiting Podcast that defines the situation further.
Beating the Cardinals would be another feather in UCF’s cap, on the road no less, and would signify that the Knights possess the talent once again to take on Power Five teams. Being literally the only Power Five opponent all season long, Louisville could help catapult the UCF Football program with recruiting.
National Television, Friday Night Game
While many of the players across the country will be playing on Friday evening, most of them will at least be able to watch some of the second half of the game when they arrive home and/or watch highlights and a rerun of the game on the Internet or a cable channel. Without many other college games being played that night, this is a golden opportunity for UCF.
Grabbing the attention of numerous recruits, all at once mind you, is not common for hardly any program. It’s just another reason that UCF needs to win this game.
Athlete for Athlete
Louisville certainly possesses talented skill position players and many talented players on its roster each and every year. Few people know that’s also the case with UCF. Few individuals, that is, outside of the greater Central Florida area truly know how many really talented skill position players the UCF Football team has, let alone the overall roster of athletes donning a Knights uniform. This particular game on September 17th will showcase all those players with many eyeballs watching closely, recruits included.
If nothing else, people will walk away from their television sets or walk out of Cardinal Stadium knowing that UCF has much more talent than they knew prior to that game being played. That alone helps recruiting for sure. Top high school recruits want to play with other top players already in college, so seeing the talent perform before their very eyes will help UCF recruiting moving forward.
To maximize that exposure opportunity, however, the Knights need to pull out the victory. Winning this game is truly big for the Knights as the only other game that’s likely to draw a similar television audience will be Cincinnati. The Bearcats are legit, but there’s still that non-Power Five stigma with the Bearcats as it relates to some recruits, so beating them may not actually hold as much cache with recruits as one might otherwise believe. It’s subjective, but something to consider. Remember, these are 17-year olds. Their perspective of the world is much different than an adult, football included.
UCF has a great chance to maximize an opportunity and beat a Power Five program on the road. It’s a night game that will almost certainly be played on ESPN or another major network, and if UCF knocks off the Cardinals there should be a recruiting boost for the Knights.