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UCF finishes off first year in American with Fiesta Bowl win

AP Photo/Rick Scuteri AP

Officially the result of the Fiesta Bowl will go down as a significant upset, but UCF left no doubt who the better team was in the Fiesta Bowl. The Knights pulled away in a shootout with Big 12 champion Baylor as quarterback Blake Bortles passed for 301 yards three touchdown passes and running back Storm Johnson rushed for 124 yards and three more in a 52-42 victory. It is UCF’s first BCS bowl appearance and victory, and it puts the cherry on top of the first year for the American Athletic Conference’s existence.

The scary part is UCF may just be getting started.

UCF is currently set up very well for long term success in the American Athletic Conference. With Louisville leaving the conference to join the ACC in 2014 and Rutgers leaving to join the Big Ten, the level of competition in the conference figures to be swinging more and more in favor of UCF given the resources and location for the program. Cincinnati should be a perennial contender as well, but UCF right now has all of the momentum in the conference as some new members will join the fray next season.

Now the question will be whether or not Bortles returns to the program for more in 2014. Bortles is being hyped as a rising quarterback prospect by NFL scouts and those who break down the NFL Draft, although he is officially waiting for the results of an official evaluation and review from the NFL before making any decision final. Against Baylor Bortles completed 20 of 31 passes for 301 yards, three touchdowns and two interceptions. Two of those touchdown passes went to receiver Rannell Hall, the first a fine 50-yard pass in the first half.

Baylor opened the second half by tying the game at 28-28 with a Bryce Petty touchdown run. Petty rushed for three touchdowns in the game and passed for one more, but the high-scoring Baylor offense was unable to keep up with UCF in this one.UCF went on a 28-14 run to close out the game following that game-tying touchdown. The Knights put up 558 yards of offense in a game that saw the teams combine for over 1,000 yards.

UCF will open the 2014 season across the Atlantic Ocean against Penn State in the Croke Park Classic in Ireland. In addition to that opening game, UCF will also play on the road at Missouri, who played for the SEC championship this season. UCF also hosts BYU in October. Are they set up for a run for another impressive season and perhaps sneak in to the new four-team playoff?

Baylor will enter next season as the defending Big 12 champions and expect to have Petty back. As long as the program keeps head coach Art Briles in Waco, instead of leaving for Austin or the NFL, the Bears should offer more of the same sort of offensive production. Defense, as usual, will be what keeps Baylor from being a true national title contender.

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23 Responses to “UCF finishes off first year in American with Fiesta Bowl win”
  1. afrancis55 says: Jan 2, 2014 12:56 AM

    Let’s be honest here, UCF got A TON of help from the refs. Any call that could’ve gone either way ALWAYS went to UCF. Granted Baylor wasn’t very disciplined to begin with, but UCF was doing similar actions to that of Baylor which were getting called.

    But what’s new, it was that A.ssclown Tom Ritter from the sec so of course he doesn’t know what’s going on.

    and btw screw you Baylor I put 33 confidence points on you in bowl pick em and you laid a compete dud tonight.

  2. lsuzilla says: Jan 2, 2014 1:00 AM

    afrancis55…….hush. Baylor, like all Big12 schools, is overrated and was exposed.

  3. saints97 says: Jan 2, 2014 1:04 AM

    What a dumpster fire that conference is right now. Fortunately for Baylor, only about 50 of their fans were actually there to see that performance.

  4. ningenito78 says: Jan 2, 2014 1:05 AM

    Blake Bortles will be the number one pick by the time the combine and everything is done. He’s gone.

  5. nickp91 says: Jan 2, 2014 1:11 AM

    Happy UCF was able to pull of a big upset!

  6. teagee says: Jan 2, 2014 2:06 AM

    I’ve lived in Orlando since 1999 in the same house backing directly onto UCF property. When Bright House stadium was erected a few years ago with great fanfare, I am afraid that I was one of the naysayers regarding the viability of football at the school. I was wrong.
    Each year after the first, they have shown a fire and spunk commensurate with any large well managed professional teams; the Cubbies still come to mind.
    When I read a review of the game soaked in the juice of so many sour grapes that gives the officials credit for throwing the game to UCF I just about lose it.
    I believed the hype. I thought UCF would be close; but no winner. I was very very wrong! Mea culpa!!

  7. phillyphannnn83 says: Jan 2, 2014 2:22 AM

    This from the Fiesta Bowl preview story:

    phillyphannnn83 January 1, 2014, 7:48 PM EST

    If not for a needless WR flea flicker that went for a pick 6 against South Carolina, the Knights would be 12-0 and probably ranked in the top 10. Don’t underestimate them
    Seems like somebody knows what they’re talking about 😉

    Oh and I too have a house behind UCF property, I’m a UCF Alum, and I never lost faith. The school has grown by over 20,000 students since I went there 12 years ago(same time as Asante Samuel). It was a no-brainer that the athletics would get better with a larger enrollment. Plus, building the stadium on school grounds instead of having to drive 12 miles to the Citrus Bowl was also a no-brainer in terms of improving the team. How on Earth did anyone not for see that? hahaha

  8. phillyphannnn83 says: Jan 2, 2014 2:27 AM

    The refs comment was funny too…somebody needs some glasses because there’s a reason was the most penalized team in the nation. They played incredibly dirty and undisciplined. They held UCF receivers on just about every route, pulled on their jerseys, lost their composure, lined up wrong on the line, jumped offsides, false started, just about every way possible to draw a flag they did it. And they were all penalties, not phantom calls.

  9. themagicfanguy says: Jan 2, 2014 6:55 AM

    Congrats on the big win UCF! Looks like te Big12 is what we thought it was.

  10. artisan3m says: Jan 2, 2014 8:24 AM

    No excuses ~ UCF was the better team with the better scheme. But what happened to Baylor’s ‘hurry-up” offensive scheme and deep vertical pass scheme? Plus, 17 penalties screams of no discipline and poor preparation. I doubt Briles will get a call from Austin after that debacle. It was a pitiful display by the Bears ~ worst of any bowl team so far. What one can take away from that game last night is that Baylor is a long, long way from being a top tier team, regardless of its record and conference crown. Very disappointing.

  11. goodfieldnohit says: Jan 2, 2014 8:33 AM

    Glasco Martin IV ‏@Glasco_IV 15m
    Lmao did I get suspended and didn’t know it??


    Fake Dan Beebe @DanBeebe


    Baylor bold indeed…

  12. lottsmissingfinger says: Jan 2, 2014 9:42 AM

    Hats off to UCF but last night was yet another example of why some of these offensive gurus will never win a NC. Defense can not be an afterthought (at best) if you want to win it all – looking at you Briles, Sumlin and Leach.

  13. vandalcowboy says: Jan 2, 2014 10:38 AM

    phillyphannnn83 says: Jan 2, 2014 2:27 AM

    The refs comment was funny too…somebody needs some glasses because there’s a reason was the most penalized team in the nation. They played incredibly dirty and undisciplined.

    Baylor’s play was unbelievably sloppy, they were certainly undisciplined and generally appeared unprepared for the game – but to call them “dirty” is unfair. If you saw Roderic Blunt’s play against Navy in the Armed Forces Bowl – that was dirty. Baylor didn’t do anything like that.

  14. jjsooner says: Jan 2, 2014 10:46 AM

    It goes without saying that discipline is so important in any sport. Baylor had none of that. If it wasn’t penalties, it was poor route running by the WR’s, offensive line blocking schemes and stubbornness with the running game. UCF deserved this win. They were more physical and played a cleaner game. Baylor is certainly becoming a good team, but you gotta fix that defense and get guys who don’t miss tackles.

    Baylor was listening too much to how they were gonna blow out UCF.

  15. 8to80texansblog says: Jan 2, 2014 10:59 AM

    Here is something that kind of amazed me.

    UCF is the second largest school in the country behind ASU. Ahead of OSU, A&M and Texas.

    5 of the top 10 largest schools are in Florida too…

    UCF should be trying to get into the ACC as soon as possible. I imagine FSU and Miami would fight it tooth and nail though….

  16. ancientcougar says: Jan 2, 2014 12:46 PM

    Where is the Cougars in the mix. They only lost by 5 points, if I remember correctly, to the Knights, with a freshman q’back and a sophomore coach. The American is getting short shrift from almost everyone. They have a good league.

  17. onlyregisteredforonecomment says: Jan 2, 2014 1:20 PM

    Sadly, I didn’t manage to see the game when it aired–but if anyone happens to see this comment and saw the game who is confused about the term “epic win”?

    By all accounts, you just looked at one.

  18. musketmaniac says: Jan 2, 2014 1:56 PM

    story of greed and easy money. baylor was 17.5 favorite and the over came easy. thanks for that extra cash. And its greed of the bigger conferences that central Florida has to thank. when the acc pulled miami from the big east. enter south Florida and their proud ten year history of football, but mission accomplished the big east retained a team to recruit Florida. than comes Rutgers to the Ten, my eers to the 12 and Louisville to the acc. Central Florida out of the ashes into Bcs glory. watered down college football at its best. 2025 bcs championship game. Louisiana Lafayette from the sec vs ball state from the BigTen. enjoy

  19. manik56 says: Jan 2, 2014 2:28 PM

    Those Knights better be ready to walk the plank. There conference dominance is about to get raided. Go Pirates!

  20. musketmaniac says: Jan 2, 2014 2:50 PM


  21. ancientcougar says: Jan 2, 2014 3:57 PM

    Anything is possible,
    Today UCF, tomorrow ECU. Too bad the coaches don’t hang around too long to really have a lasting effect on the programs. Of course O’Leary isn’t going anywhere because of his artistic license probs in another life…..This could create a dynasty for the “Knights” for as long as he wants to coach. Sad fact is, that after all the high powered schools hire all these “winners”, someone has to lose.

  22. musketmaniac says: Jan 2, 2014 4:01 PM

    the vacuum always needs filled. the power conferences raid the middle raids the bottom. but the bottom conferences still have t.v contracts to fullfill. anybody know what league C.Florida was in before the first Acc raid on the bigEast

  23. jdillydawg says: Jan 3, 2014 8:14 PM

    UCF was definitely the better team that night, but what surprised me was that they only won by 10. Baylor looked awful on defense (what else is new?) and although UCF put up 52, the way Bortles played I wouldn’t have been surprised to see that number above 70.

    The comment above that said only 50 Baylor fans were at the game was pretty funny. I was there, and I would say Baylor fans outnumbered UCF fans 2 to 1. Of course, geography was a big help, but given that UCF has about 60,000 students to Baylor’s 16,000, the comment is that much more stupid.

    Finally, dumbest T-shirt I saw said, “Fuck Baylor.” Given that fuck is just about an anagram of UCF, I wouldn’t be surprised if the guy was just trying to spell his college…

    Then again, it is in Florida. And every wack job seems to come out of that state.

    Oh, and why all the hate on the Big 12? Wasn’t that Alabama going down to a Big 12 team? Why yes, yes it was. What a surprise.

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