By KYLE HIGHTOWER
ORLANDO, Fla. (AP) - UCF coach George O'Leary has grown weary of being in close games over the past two weeks.
As his team continues to chase its first BCS berth, the 17th-ranked Knights (8-1, 5-0 American) have survived back-to-back games that came down to plays in the closing minutes.
UCF has won five games this season by seven or fewer points.
O'Leary says he has warned his team that its luck could run out if they keep letting teams stay in games, and he's hoping it won't be Thursday night against Rutgers (5-4, 2-3), which has lost three of its last four outings.
The Scarlet Knights have been hampered by injuries, but a win would make them bowl-eligible for the eighth time in nine years.
O'Leary a semifinalist for Maxwell Football Club Coach of the Year
George O'Leary has been honored for the Knights' success as he was named a semifinalist for the Maxwell Football Club Collegiate Coach of the Year Award Wednesday.
The list of semifinalists includes 16 candidates which have been selected by the MFC National Selection Committee, and the field was announced by MFC President, Ron Jaworski. It was the second accolade for Coach O'Leary this season as he was one of 20 members on The Paul Bear Bryant Coach of the Year Award Watch List announced Nov. 1.
Semifinalist voting for the Maxwell Football Club Collegiate Coach of the Year Award will begin on Nov. 21 and close Dec. 2. Finalist voting will take place from Dec. 3-15 and the winner will be announced Dec. 17.
In his 10th year, O'Leary has led the Knights to being bowl eligible for the fourth time in the last five seasons. Among his career accolades, O'Leary is a five-time conference coach of the year (1998 and 2000 in the ACC and 2005, 2007 and 2010 in Conference USA), and was the 2000 Bobby Dodd National Coach of the Year as well as the 2005 SportsIllustrated.com and CBSSports.com National Coach of the Year.
MFC Collegiate Coach of the Year Semifinalists:
Nick Saban - Alabama
Gus Malzahn - Auburn
Art Briles - Baylor
Steve Addazio - Boston College
Dabo Swinney - Clemson
David Cutcliffe - Duke
Tim DeRuyter - Fresno State
Jimbo Fisher - Florida State
Mark Dantonio - Michigan State
Gary Pinkel - Missouri
Rod Carey - Northern Illinois
Urban Meyer - Ohio State
Mike Gundy - Oklahoma State
George O'Leary - UCF
Ed Orgeron - USC
Gary Anderson - Wisconsin