UCF clinched a share of the American Athletic Conference championship by once again pulling out some dramatic offensive clutch play. Blake Bortles completed a 52-yard pass to Breshad Perriman with just under five minutes to play, giving No. 19 UCF (10-1, 7-0 AAC) a 23-20 lead on rival USF (2-9, 2-5 AAC).
UCF overcame a sloppy performance to put away the Bulls. UCF had five turnovers and completed just one of eight third-down conversions in the game. The defense did not have a great performance against USF, but they came through late in the game with a stop to force a long, 51-yard field goal attempt by the Bulls. That missed field goal set up UCF for their game-winning touchdown drive. On USF’s final offensive possession UCF came up with an interception of USF quarterback Mike White to pretty much seal the game.
UCF is now one win away from winning the outright conference championship, which would guarantee the Knights an automatic BCS berth without the need to worry about any tie breakers. UCF travels to SMU next week. By then they will know what the situation is for the conference. On Thursday night Cincinnati and Louisville will play with a chance to share for the conference championship still a possibility if UCF loses at SMU a few days later.
Here is how the latest AAC championship scenarios look…
UCF wins automatic bid with:
- Win vs. SMU
- Lose at SMU and Louisville defeats Cincinnati
Cincinnati wins automatic BCS bid with:
- Win vs. Louisville AND SMU defeats UCF
So for UCF it is as simple as winning their final game against a struggling SMU team. SMU (5-6, 4-3 AAC) will need to win that game in order to become eligible for a postseason game.. These two programs have a little history as former Conference USA member. UCF leads the all-time series between the two, 4-1.
USF will wrap up their 2013 season on the road next week at Rutgers. Rutgers could need the game to become bowl eligible if they lose this weekend to Connecticut.
One team paying close attention to UCF is Northern Illinois. The Huskies are ranked ahead of UCF in the BCS standings, and need to stay there in order to receive an automatic BCS Bowl invite for a second straight season. If Northern Illinois defeats Bowling Green in next week’s MAC Championship Game, the Huskies should be heading back to a BCS bowl game under the rules detailing the BCS selection process.