ORLANDO, Fla. -- We are just a few minutes away from kickoff between UCF and SMU in the Conference USA championship game.
Quarterback Kyle Padron, who injured his ankle last week, looked good during pregame warm-ups and is set to go. This is a late-arriving crowd just a few minutes from kickoff. UCF officials are expecting about 40,000 fans, short of a sellout. The student section is full and wearing black, ready to root on UCF in its quest to win its first conference championship since 2007.
SMU hasn't won a conference title since 1984, when SMU shared the Southwest Conference crown with Houston. The Mustangs continue their resurgence under coach June Jones, who has managed to turn around a program most thought was dead. They went 1-11 in his first season, but last year they shared the West Division title and this year they are playing for a C-USA championship.
You already saw my keys to the game. Here are a few other notes:
SMU running back Zach Line has rushed for 1,297 yards this season, third best in SMU history behind Eric Dickerson in 1981 and 1982.
This season marks the 75th anniversary of SMU's first national championship in 1935.
UCF is trying to become the fifth team to win at least two C-USA titles, joining Southern Miss (three), Louisville (three), Houston (two) and East Carolina (two).
The Knights are hoping for a school-record-tying 10th victory of the season.