UCF Knights (11-1) vs. Baylor Bears (11-1)
Wednesday, Jan. 1, 8:30 p.m. EST, ESPN
Line: Baylor by 17.5
How UCF got here: What if UCF had found a way to beat South Carolina in September? Could the Knights be playing in the championship game? Seems doubtful, but a 28-25 loss is all that kept UCF from running the table. The Knights did upset Louisville 38-35 and then fended off foes like Houston, Temple, South Florida and SMU to win the American Athletic Conference.
How Baylor got here: The Bears were in the BCS title hunt for most of the season, but a 49-17 thumping at Oklahoma State ended that dream. Baylor did win its final two games against TCU (41-38) and Texas (30-10), and following OSU’s loss to Oklahoma the Bears earned the Big 12 title. Baylor led the nation in scoring and eclipsed 70 points four times, including a 73-42 win over West Virginia.
For UCF to win: It’s hard to imagine the Knights winning another nail biter against Baylor, so UCF is going to have to go toe-to-toe and match the Bears on the scoreboard. UCF will also need to create turnovers and score on special teams. That’s how tough it’s going to be for the Knights to win.
For Baylor to win: Just do what Art Briles’ squad has done almost every week this season — score a crap load of points.
Key Player (UCF): Blake Bortles, QB. Bortles is probably playing his final game for the Orlando-based program and he should be a first-round pick in the upcoming NFL draft. He completed 68.1 percent of his passes for 3,280 yards and 22 touchdowns in a year to remember for UCF.
Key Player (Baylor): Bryce Petty, QB. He has already announced he will return for his senior season, so Petty has to be an early Heisman favorite. Petty complete 61.8 percent of his passes for 3,844 yards and 30 touchdowns, while only getting picked off twice.
Key Stat: 53.3. It’s such a crazy number that you can’t put it down. That’s how many points Baylor averages a game.