After a season that could only be described as the greatest in school history the UCF Knights are heading to their first ever BCS bowl as the undefeated American Athletic Conference Champions. The 15th ranked UCF Knights (11-1) will be facing off against the Big 12 Champions 6th ranked Baylor Bears (11-1) in the Tostitos Fiesta Bowl on New Years Day in Glendale, Ariz. In a season that has featured so many amazing heart pounding moments, electrifying highlights, and come from behind victories led by head coach George O’Leary and QB Blake Bortles truly took the college football world by storm.
When UCF entered the season let’s be honest here the Knights were entering a new conference and expectations for the Knights were sub par and that the season would be one of growing pains and adjusting into the new conference. To think that now the Knights currently stand atop of the American Athletic Conference as champions and sporting an 11-1 record (best in program history) is nothing short of remarkable.
This season UCF won seven games with a margin of victory of seven points or less earning the nickname “Cardiac Knights”. UCF began to truly capture the nation’s attention with a road victory over Penn State, and their near major upset of then 12th ranked South Carolina only falling to the Gamecocks by three after a near 18 point comeback. Following this loss UCF only seemed to continue to progress and when UCF faced off against No.8 Louisville on the road led by Heisman hopeful QB Teddy Bridgewater as a no brainer underdog something magical happened. UCF after falling down 28-7 led a comeback for the ages the Knights led by RB Storm Johnson and QB Blake Bortles would score a game winning touchdown with less than 25 seconds left to give UCF a 38-35 victory. Following this win UCF would go on to finish the season undefeated in the American Athletic conference and even defeated University of South Florida in the “War on I-4”rivalry.
Now UCF once again will be entering the Tostitos Fiesta bowl as a major underdog against the Big 12 champions Baylor. The Baylor Bears, who are also playing in their first BCS bowl, have averaged an astounding 53.8 points per game and will be looking to overpower the Knights with its high-octane offense. The matchup in Arizona will definitely be one that features two hungry programs seeking to finish the 2013 season in historic fashion with a BCS bowl trophy on its mantle.
What was truly special about this team wasn’t the electrifying highlights such as “The Catch” by J.J. Whorton against Temple or “The Truck” by William Standback vs. Rutgers, it was the ability for the team to motivate and inspire a University to believe. During the season you were able to see and feel the growth of school pride that on a large-scale had been missing. UCF football this season did way more this year than simply win football games they made us all proud to call ourselves Knights.