There had been questions about the legitimacy of UCF’s 12-0 American Conference Championship season. There had been outright disrespect by the College Football Playoff selection committee who continued to leave the Knights around 15th or 14th in their rankings for three consecutive weeks late in the year, before finally moving them into their top 10.
There was doubt about whether they could hang with an SEC team. Well, there aren’t questions or doubts anymore. On the first day of 2018, the Knights out-executed and outplayed the Auburn Tigers of the mighty SEC in a 34-27 Peach Bowl victory to complete their perfect season.
QB McKenzie Milton shook off an awful first half throwing the ball, and led the Knights to two critical second half TDs, as UCF overcame a 20-13 second half deficit to lead 27-20. Milton threw TD passes to RB Otis Anderson and WR Dredrick Snelson capping off long drives to build the lead.
He was named the MVP of the Peach Bowl.
Then, the Knights defense took over and when LB Chequan Burkett raced in front of an Auburn QB Jarrett Stidham pass and took it to the house for a 45 yard TD, it was a 34-20 lead in the fourth quarter.
Auburn would not quit and Stidham led them down the field on an 89 yard TD drive that culminated with Eli Stove 7 yard TD run and the lead trimmed to 34-27. Stidham finished 331 yards 2 TDs but two costly interceptions.
It looked like the Knights were going to put the game away with a clinching drive inside the Auburn 25 yard line in the final three minutes, but for the second time in the second half, failed to convert a field goal. Kicker Matthew Wright, who had a 25 yarder blocked earlier in the half, then missed a 38 yard field goal wide left to give the Tigers life.
But after driving into UCF territory in the final :30. Stidham threw this final pick to Antwan Collier in the end zone, which sealed the win.
Perfect season ✅ pic.twitter.com/7L2SQCcXD4
— ESPN CollegeFootball (@ESPNCFB) January 1, 2018
The game was coached by new Nebraska head coach Scott Frost, as he and his former staff of coaches stayed to coach the Peach Bowl and clearly his team responded to finish the unbeaten year.
It’s remarkable reversal for the Knights who were winless at 0-12 two years ago, and now finish as the only unbeaten FBS team at 13-0.
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