The Tuesday before the University of Tulsa played Cincinnati, linebacker Zaven Collins started detailing his schedule and where he had been before this particular weekly news conference.
Collins already had attended biomechanics and physics classes before this noon presser. When he left, he headed to a physics lab that was scheduled for four hours. That kind of schedule is what TU coach Philip Montgomery says is the biggest challenge of playing a Friday night game, which the Golden Hurricane will do this week against UCF.
“Especially here, class schedules are nothing to shake your head about, right?” Montgomery said. “For us being able to — just because you got a Friday game now, all of a sudden you can change your schedule and do some different things on Monday — that’s not happening here. You’re losing a day of prep, you’re losing one of your practice days in there, and so everything’s condensed down and shortened down, and your players have got to do a really good job of studying some things from a film standpoint, and some of the reps that you’re not getting that week you got to try to make up for it in that way.”
A perk of a Friday night game is national exposure for the smallest school in FBS, as TU plays the university with the largest enrollment in UCF on ESPN2. UCF has won the past two American Athletic Conference titles and is still in the race this season at 7-2 overall and 4-1 in conference play. The Golden Knights’ only conference loss was to Cincinnati, which leads the AAC East Division.
“It’s going to be a great test for us,” Montgomery said. “We’re excited about the opportunity to get back on the field, obviously, on a short week. Some things from a practice standpoint, I’ve got to adjust a little bit, but trying to get everything done and installed and ready to go on a Friday night, which, hopefully, we’re going to have a lot of fans show up. We’d love to have a great stadium atmosphere that night to help us versus a really, really tough opponent who, in my opinion, is a top-25 team.”
A win could put UCF inside next week’s College Football Playoff rankings, as the Golden Knights are on the outside looking in of most polls. UCF would join five other TU opponents that had a spot in the first CFP rankings of the season Tuesday. Cincinnati is ranked the highest among those at No. 20.
According to Cody Kellner’s Points Index strength of schedule ratings, the Golden Hurricane (2-7) has the third-toughest schedule in the country behind Michigan State, which TU played on Week 1, and Northwestern. Cincinnati is the next highest AAC team on the list at No. 36.
“For our guys, it’s been frustrating because they’ve played extremely well versus really good people, and just, we haven’t come out on top in most of those instances,” Montgomery said. “But credit to them, they’re continuing to grind and they’re continuing to work. Obviously didn’t have the outcomes that we wanted so far, but got another opportunity this week and another great opponent.”