banner

College Football

more stats

52
Final 1234Score
UCF141471752
Baylor71381442
Preview | Matchup | Log | Wrap | Box
42


(15) UCF (11-1) vs. (6) Baylor (11-1)



Wednesday, January 1, 8:30 p.m. (ET)

SportsNetwork.com

By Mike Castiglione, Associate College Football Editor

GAME NOTES: The 15th-ranked UCF Knights and No. 6 Baylor Bears will both compete in their first-ever BCS bowls on New Year's Day when they square off in the 43rd annual Fiesta Bowl at University of Phoenix Stadium.

UCF went undefeated in the American Athletic Conference and finished the regular season with eight straight wins, the longest winning streak in school history. The Knights' lone loss was a 28-25 setback to South Carolina in late September. The Knights, under the guidance of AAC Coach of the Year George O'Leary, are making their fourth postseason appearance in the last five seasons and have won their last two bowl games.

O'Leary recently spoke about how he's been able to turn the program around over the past 10 years since his arrival, from an 0-11 team to this year's 11-1 BCS bowl squad.

"We did what you should do as a coach taking over a program - you build a foundation," O'Leary said. "Each year you put some furniture in the building. The big thing is that we have gotten better each year. We have had our ups and downs, but I think that the consistency of the program and the culture of the program is in place to move forward and to continue to get better each and every year."

Meanwhile, Baylor won its first Big 12 Conference title thanks mostly to an offense that put up video game-like numbers throughout the season. The Bears notched their first-ever 11-win season and are going bowling for the fourth straight year after claiming a 49-26 win over UCLA in last season's Holiday Bowl. A school-record 10 All-Big 12 awards were handed out, including Coach of the Year Art Briles, Player of the Year Bryce Petty and Offensive Lineman of the Year Cyril Richardson.

This will be the first-ever meeting between these two programs.

UCF's offense is led by AAC Offensive Player of the Year, quarterback Blake Bortles. The redshirt junior ranks ninth nationally in passing efficiency (163.3) and has been a steadying presence all season long. Bortles has averaged 273 yards per game through the air, while completing 68 percent of his passes and has tossed 22 touchdowns with only seven interceptions. Bortles ran for two TDs in the conference title game at SMU, as the Knights went to their up-tempo, no-huddle "Fastball" offense after a slow start. He has been a big reason why, two years after losing six games by seven points or less, the Knights went 7-1 in such tight games this season. First-Team All-AAC running back Storm Johnson headlines the ground game with 1,015 rushing yards (5.3 ypc) and 11 touchdowns.

The UCF defense held nine of its 12 opponents below their scoring average this season. The Knights rank 13th nationally in scoring defense (19.6 ppg) and 19th in total yards allowed (346.3 ypg). They enter the Fiesta Bowl having held five of their last six foes to 20 points or less and gave up just 13 points against SMU. The Knights boast solid depth on the defensive side of the ball, as 17 different players were credited with a sack this year and six different players recorded multiple interceptions.

Whereas the Knights have the dangerous Bortles under center, the Bears feature a big-time quarterback of their own in Bryce Petty, the engineer of Baylor's top-ranked scoring offense (53.3) and total offense (624.5). The Bears, who scored at least 69 points in five of their first six games, are the only FBS school to average better than 300 passing yards and 250 rushing yards per tilt. They are 14 points away from setting the all-time NCAA record for most points in a 13-game season.

Petty leads the nation with 17.47 yards per completion and is second in passing efficiency (179.2). He also shares the team lead with 11 rushing scores. Big-play senior receiver Tevin Reese paces the country in yards per catch (25.0) and has caught a BCS-era record 21 touchdowns of 40 yards or more, while fellow wideout Antwan Goodley leads the Big 12 in receiving yards per game (109.9) and receiving TDs (13). Goodley's eight 100-yard receiving games this season also tops the nation and is one away from BU's all-time single-season mark. In the backfield, the shifty Lache Seastrunk tops the Big 12 with 106.0 rushing yards per game and is averaging 7.5 yards per carry, which ranks ninth nationally.

Coach O'Leary was asked what he will tell his players about being labeled the underdog against the Bears and their high-powered attack.

"I don't know about that," he said. "Our players will compete. Our players are very excited about the game and are very excited about to get to Arizona and play. They are looking forward to the trip. They understand what we need to get done to go out and compete against a team like Baylor."

While Baylor's offensive prowess is well documented, its defense has gone somewhat unnoticed. Although there have been a few shootouts this season, the unit does rank 17th nationally in total defense (344.0 ypg) and 19th in scoring defense (21.2 ppg allowed). As with virtually any team, takeaways have been a key element to success. The Bears are 24-2 when forcing two or more turnovers over the past three seasons under defensive coordinator Phil Bennett. They allowed just 10 points to Texas in the Big 12 title game and came away with two interceptions of Case McCoy, who completed only 12-of-34 passes. Senior All-American safety Ahmad Dixon leads the way with 5.8 tackles per game to go along with an interception and a forced fumble on the season.

UCF went undefeated on the road (6-0) for the first time in school history. The team simply knows how to grind out wins, as seven of its victories came by seven points or less. Winning this matchup certainly won't be easy against a Baylor team that spent eight straight weeks ranked in the top-10. The head-to- head matchup between quarterbacks Bortles and Petty alone figures to be worth the price of admission.

Sports Network Predicted Outcome: Baylor 45, UCF 31

12/29 14:35:04 ET

Other Stories

  • NFL: Chicago at Detroit

    Tomorrow at 12:30 pm on WRAL-TV

  • NFL: Philadelphia at Dallas

    Tomorrow at 4:00 pm on FOX50

  • SEC: Arkansas at Missouri

    Friday at 2:30 pm on WRAL-TV

  • HSFB: Football Friday with Tom Suiter

    Friday at 11:35 pm on WRAL-TV

  • CBB: Duke vs. Furman

    Tonight at 5:00 on 620am

  • CBB: NC State vs. Richmond

    Tonight at 7:00 on WRAL-FM

  • NHL: Hurricanes at Florida

    Tonight at 7:30 on 99.9 The Fan

  • NFL: Chicago Bears at Detroit Lions

    Tomorrow at 12:30 pm on 99.9 The Fan

Scoreboard
Local
Final
ECU 58
FRES 52
Final
CIN 59
NCCU 50
 
12:00pm Today
UNC
BUT
 
2:30pm Today
ECU
HAW
 
5:00pm Tonight
DUKE
FUR
 
7:00pm Tonight
CHA
POR
 
7:00pm Tonight
NCSU
RICH
 
7:30pm Tonight
FLA
CAR
 
Final
WAS 102
ATL 106
Final
MIA 97
GSW 114
Final
MIL 98
DET 86
Final
NOP 89
SAC 99
Final
DEN 114
CHI 109
7:00pm Tonight
PHI
BRK
 
7:00pm Tonight
ORL
GSW
 
7:00pm Tonight
CHA
POR
 
7:00pm Tonight
CLE
WAS
 
7:30pm Tonight
DET
LAC
 
7:30pm Tonight
DAL
NYK
 
7:30pm Tonight
ATL
TOR
 
8:00pm Tonight
MIN
MIL
 
8:00pm Tonight
HOU
SAC
 
8:00pm Tonight
OKC
UTA
 
8:30pm Tonight
SAN
IND
 
9:00pm Tonight
PHO
DEN
 
10:30pm Tonight
LAL
MEM
 
Final
UMO 21
OHIO 24
Final
ECU 58
FRES 52
Final
ELON 74
MRGST 73
 
Final
MIZZ 61
PURD 82
Final
MAR 55
HAW 62
Final
UNF 77
LIB 57
 
Final
CHAM 85
BYU 121
Final
BUCK 58
MDES 55
Final
UGST 85
WCU 70
Final
UWGB 64
EVAN 62
Final
ARST 71
ALA 76
Final
OHIO 69
ARKPB 60
 
Final
UNH 75
BU 68
 
Final
OU 70
CHIST 57
Final
TOL 79
DET 82
Final
CLMB 57
FD 47
 
Final
QUIN 50
HART 54
 
Final
SFLA 71
HOF 70
Final
HARV 84
HOU 63
Final
BONA 79
JST 71
 
Final
STJOE 74
LIU 70
 
Final
SYR 70
GHND 37
 
Final
MLOWELL 102
MTIDA 57
 
Final
CIN 59
NCCU 50
 
Final
VT 54
NIOWA 73
Final
WOFF 82
OHVALLEY 54
 
Final
TEMPL 76
PENN 67
Final
RUTG 50
PETE 68
Final
BGU 62
SEMIZ 54
Final
LAS 73
Terriers 60
 
Final
UVA 79
TENST 36
Final
KENT 92
TXARL 44
Final
FSU 66
CITA 55
Final
PBY 63
TOCC 40
 
Final
COOK 56
TENNM 74
 
Final
WMARY 83
WILL 49
Final
USB 71
WKENT 61
 
Final
HIGH 88
WMPEACE 71
 
Final
SMU 72
ARK 78
Final
ARMY 80
BING 54
 
Final
CSOU 80
CARK 67
 
Final
UMBC 54
HOW 68
 
Final
ARZ 72
KYST 68
Final
OREG 63
VCU 77
Final
PSU 78
AKR 72
Final
SCST 92
CIU 55
 
Final
CREI 75
EILL 53
Final
ALAAM 61
JVST 67
 
Final
ABCHRIST 91
JCHR 65
 
Final
TXSA 57
LOYC 71
Final
NDST 64
MNCROOK 63
 
Final
NEB 80
NEOM 67
Final
VANDY 63
NORST 53
 
Final
STLU 57
NCAT 54
 
Final
MTST 65
NARZ 53
Final
TTU 75
NWST 64
 
Final
TULA 74
SOUTH 59
 
Final
ILLCH 87
STXAVIER 76
 
Final
TEX 78
RFLSH 46
Final
BRAD 52
TAMCC 38
 
Final
SMISS 72
TROY 70
Final
DRAK 73
IUPUI 60
Final
ARKST 58
LAM 63
 
Final
FLGC 62
USF 47
Final
COL 68
AFA 53
Final
IDAHO 75
BSU 86
Final
GRCN 64
BUF 80
 
Final
ORU 52
LALAF 76
Final
CHAR 74
MIAMI 77
Final
ISU 63
MD 72
Final
UMO 46
NW 55
Final
SACST 97
BRISTOL 63
 
Final
MICH 55
VILL 60
Final
SDST 74
PITT 57
Final
USC 53
CSFU 49
Final
STAN 84
DEL 47
12:00pm Today
UNC
BUT
 
12:00pm Today
FRES
MAR
 
12:00pm Today
CHAT
RMU
 
12:00pm Today
EMICH
ROCH
 
1:30pm Today
MRGST
LIB
 
2:00pm Today
HAMP
AMER
 
2:00pm Today
BEL
DEN
 
2:00pm Today
UMASS
NE
 
2:00pm Today
JMU
SHU
 
2:00pm Today
KNST
SAMF
 
2:30pm Today
ECU
HAW
 
2:30pm Today
CHAM
MIZZ
 
2:30pm Today
OKLA
UCLA
 
2:30pm Today
CCAR
LAMON
 
4:00pm Today
ELON
UNF
 
4:00pm Today
UWMIL
ORU
 
4:30pm Today
WCU
CHIST
 
5:00pm Tonight
DUKE
FUR
 
5:00pm Tonight
BYU
PURD
 
6:00pm Tonight
EVAN
USF
 
7:00pm Tonight
COL
GTDNS
 
7:00pm Tonight
VERM
BRY
 
7:00pm Tonight
OSU
CAMP
 
7:00pm Tonight
CORN
CAN
 
7:00pm Tonight
LOU
CLST
 
7:00pm Tonight
UCF
DAVID
 
7:00pm Tonight
IONA
DELST
 
7:00pm Tonight
OU
UGST
 
7:00pm Tonight
TOWS
GOUCHER
 
7:00pm Tonight
ND
GRAM
 
7:00pm Tonight
YALE
LAF
 
7:00pm Tonight
GWU
LONG
 
7:00pm Tonight
VT
UMO
 
7:00pm Tonight
WAKE
MNTER
 
7:00pm Tonight
NAVY
PSUHARRIS
 
7:00pm Tonight
NCSU
RICH
 
7:00pm Tonight
MINN
STJ
 
7:00pm Tonight
JVU
TRINBAPT
 
7:00pm Tonight
YOUNG
UMKC
 
7:00pm Tonight
UAB
WISC
 
7:30pm Tonight
PITT
KYST
 
7:30pm Tonight
WVU
VMI
 
8:00pm Tonight
DEP
LEH
 
8:00pm Tonight
UNT
MVSU
 
8:00pm Tonight
MARS
MORE
 
8:00pm Tonight
TCU
RAD
 
8:00pm Tonight
SELA
TENT
 
8:00pm Tonight
SMU
TXSOU
 
8:00pm Tonight
UTAH
TXPA
 
8:00pm Tonight
LMU
UCR
 
8:00pm Tonight
SCAR
UNCA
 
8:00pm Tonight
SD
WAYNEST
 
8:30pm Tonight
UWGB
FLGC
 
8:30pm Tonight
IOWA
NILL
 
9:00pm Tonight
ORST
AUB
 
9:00pm Tonight
MONT
CARROLLMT
 
9:00pm Tonight
SUTAH
EKENT
 
9:00pm Tonight
NMST
FAM
 
9:00pm Tonight
WYO
STET
 
9:05pm Tonight
EWASH
NKENTUCKY
 
9:05pm Tonight
IDST
WLVRN
 
9:30pm Tonight
GEOR
UF
 
9:30pm Tonight
GONZ
UGA
 
9:30pm Tonight
NIOWA
NW
 
10:00pm Tonight
SDST
ARZ
 
10:00pm Tonight
CAL
CPSL
 
10:00pm Tonight
UCD
UTST
 
10:30pm Tonight
NDAK
ALAST
 
11:00pm Tonight
CSNO
PORST
 
11:30pm Tonight
AKAN
PAC
 
11:30pm Tonight
OKST
TULSA
 
Final
CLB 2
WIN 4
Final
NAS 4
LOS 3
Final
STL 2
OTT 3
Final
DAL 3
EDM 2
Final
ARI 3
COL 4
Final
ANA 3
CAL 2
Final
VAN 2
NJD 0
7:00pm Tonight
NYI
WAS
 
7:00pm Tonight
BUF
WIN
 
7:30pm Tonight
FLA
CAR
 
7:30pm Tonight
TAM
NYR
 
7:30pm Tonight
DET
PHI
 
7:30pm Tonight
PIT
TOR
 
8:00pm Tonight
MIN
LOS
 
9:00pm Tonight
COL
CHI
 
10:30pm Tonight
SJS
CAL