The 11-1 UCF Knights will be looking to quiet their critics when they take on the high-flying 11-1 Baylor Bears on January 1, 2014 in the Tostitos Fiesta Bowl. Despite being ranked 15th in the nation, many have been critical of a team with a subpar resume making it to a BCS Bowl. However, the Knights feature a stifling defense that has allowed 20 or less points in all, but four games this year. On the other side of the ball, the resurgent Baylor Bears enter the game ranked 6th in the country and boast college football’s best offense that averages more than 50 points per game.
The Knights enter the New Years Day battle as decided underdogs; however, this may give the team an advantage, as they have nothing to lose. On offense the Knights feature one of college football’s most accurate and underrated passers in QB Blake Bortles who threw for 3280 yards and 22 touchdowns while completing an unheard of 68% of his passes. The dynamic arm of Bortles will be supported by the strong and powerful legs of Storm Johnson who ran for more than 1000 yards and 11 touchdowns during the regular season.
The Baylor Bears enter the Fiesta Bowl having never scored less than 17 points all season in a loss to Oklahoma. In addition, the Bears’ average margin of victory is more than four touchdowns and the team has scored more than 50 points in 7 of their 12 games. At QB, the Bears are led junior QB Bryce Petty who accounted for more than 4000 total yards of offense while throwing 30 touchdowns against a remarkably few 2 interceptions. Not only do the Bears average 359.3 yards per game through the air, but also the team features the 12th ranked rushing attack in the NCAA with 265 yards per game. The Bears feature two backs, Lache Seastrunk and Shock Linwood, who could easily start for any of the other teams in college football and that accounted for nearly 2000 rushing yards between them. Baylor is more than just an offensive juggernaut and has a defense that ranks 19th in the NCAA for fewest points allowed per game at 21.
Given the lack of competition faced by the Knights during the regular season it is no surprise that they are considered long shots to win the Fiesta Bowl. Expect the UCF Knights to give a valiant effort in this game, but be overcome by the high-octane offense of Bryce Petty and the Baylor Bears. This should be a one sided victory for the Bears.