Saturday, November 17, 2018
Colleges

No. 12 UCF sends coach Scott Frost out with an AAC title

ORLANDO — A significant concern of American Athletic Conference brass was whether the short-term futures of both coaches — especially UCF’s — would overshadow the action of Saturday’s league title game.

That worry disappeared along with both defenses on a warm, wild afternoon at Spectrum Stadium. In the second ebb-and-flow extravaganza staged in this venue in nine days, secondaries, school records and story lines were upended with equal fury.

By day’s end, No. 12 UCF had eked out a 62-55 overtime triumph against No. 16 Memphis in the highest-scoring conference championship game in Division I-A history.

"At the end of the day, they were able to make one more play than we did," Memphis coach Mike Norvell said. "What a game."

In other news, Knights coach Scott Frost is headed to Nebraska. Around dusk, the school confirmed Frost, a former Cornhuskers quarterback who led them to the 1997 national title, would return to his native state. Offensive coordinator Troy Walters will serve as UCF’s interim coach.

"I’d say the pull of the alma mater is what won the day," White said at an early-evening news conference.

A couple of hours earlier, Frost’s team completed one of the most staggering turnarounds in recent college football memory. UCF, coming off an 0-12 season when Frost was hired on Dec. 1, 2015, improved to 12-0 Saturday and appears headed to the Peach Bowl as the highest-ranked Group of Five conference champion.

"I’ve said it before, what these guys have done, it’s not just improbable it’s impossible, in two years to get where they are," he said. "It’s a special group."

Saturday, it also had to be a resilient one.

Before an announced crowd of 41,433, the Knights and Tigers (10-2) combined for 1,479 yards, four lead changes and 23 plays of at least 20 yards.

Memphis rallied from a 14-point fourth-quarter deficit, tying the score at 48-all on sophomore speedster Tony Pollard’s 66-yard touchdown sweep, and quarterback Riley Ferguson’s 10-yard scoring throw to Anthony Miller.

Ferguson finished 30-of-42 for 471 yards and four touchdowns. Miller finished with 195 yards and three touchdowns on 14 catches.

"We had no panic," Ferguson said.

The teams then traded touchdowns in overtime before 165-pound freshman Otis Anderson (16 carries, 117 yards) gave UCF a 62-55 lead with a 1-yard touchdown run. On Memphis’ final possession, Ferguson, under duress from blitzing linebacker Shaquem Griffin, threw a pass over the middle that was picked by safety Tre Neal.

"We were just in man coverage, and we just tried to pressure ’em," Neal said. "My dude blocked, so I just zoned off and I saw the ball come to me, so I just jumped and grabbed it."

It salvaged a 562-total yard effort by Knights quarterback McKenzie Milton that was periodically prone to error.

All five of Milton’s touchdown throws covered at least 24 yards, but he threw a season-high three interceptions — one in the Memphis end zone and one at the Tigers 1-yard line — after tossing only six his first 11 games.

"This kid hasn’t made any bad decisions all year, so he was probably due for one," Frost said. "And their kids made plays."

Frost’s kids made one play more.

"These guys just keep answering the bell," he said. "It’s unbelievable the heart and spirit they have."

The heart, the spirit, the resilience, the reclamation of UCF football — all was celebrated afterward on the field, as the Knights were being showered by gold-and-black confetti. As Frost’s onfield interview was being played on the PA system, UCF fans unloaded a chant of "Stay, stay, stay."

"The hard thing about all this is, they should give you time after the season to make (career) decisions and they don’t," Frost told reporters in his postgame news conference. "These things happen at the wrong time. The one thing I wasn’t gonna do was sacrifice my commitment to this team."

Contact Joey Knight at [email protected] Follow @TBTimes_Bulls.

 
Comments
The end of ‘The Streak’ would be another sorry chapter for Florida State

The end of ‘The Streak’ would be another sorry chapter for Florida State

Florida State's run of 36 consecutive bowl games, which began under Bobby Bowden, might screech to a halt this afternoon under Willie Taggart
Published: 11/16/18
Hot seat watch, coaches in contention to move up, Jimbo Fisher flashback and more college football notes

Hot seat watch, coaches in contention to move up, Jimbo Fisher flashback and more college football notes

Yes, Skip Holtz flopped at USF, but he's doing very well at Louisiana Tech...
Published: 11/16/18
Gators-Idaho, UCF-Cincinnati, bowl streaks in jeopardy and more state college football notes

Gators-Idaho, UCF-Cincinnati, bowl streaks in jeopardy and more state college football notes

Hopefully Florida and Idaho get to play an offensive snap this time, unlike in 2014.
Published: 11/16/18
Heisman Trophy watch: Kyler Murray catching up to Tua Tagovailoa

Heisman Trophy watch: Kyler Murray catching up to Tua Tagovailoa

It's still a two-man race, but the gap isn't as large as it seemed a few weeks ago.
Published: 11/16/18
Who has been more disappointing: Florida State or Miami?

Who has been more disappointing: Florida State or Miami?

Times columnist Martin Fennelly and writer Matt Baker discuss which former powerhouse has had a worse 2018.
Published: 11/14/18
The Florida Gators really do have a shot at a New Year’s Six bowl

The Florida Gators really do have a shot at a New Year’s Six bowl

UF moved up two spots to No. 13 in the latest College Football Playoff rankings ... which means they're in the hunt for a major bowl
Published: 11/13/18
Florida Gators’ Feleipe Franks didn’t see the signal, so he chose the game winner himself

Florida Gators’ Feleipe Franks didn’t see the signal, so he chose the game winner himself

"I just wanted to run somebody over," Florida Gators quarterback Feleipe Franks said.
Published: 11/12/18
Matt Baker’s AP Top 25 ballot: Little movement high, but Cincinnati enters

Matt Baker’s AP Top 25 ballot: Little movement high, but Cincinnati enters

The Florida Gators belong somewhere in the 12-19 blob.
Published: 11/11/18
Feleipe Franks silences critics in Florida Gators’ 35-31 comeback win over South Carolina

Feleipe Franks silences critics in Florida Gators’ 35-31 comeback win over South Carolina

Feleipe Franks was booed in the first quarter. He silenced the crowd twice with his finger and more than that with his play in a second-half rally.
Published: 11/10/18
Updated: 11/11/18
Backup QB Wimbush, defense help No. 3 Irish dominate FSU

Backup QB Wimbush, defense help No. 3 Irish dominate FSU

SOUTH BEND, Ind. — Brandon Wimbush threw three-first half touchdown passes, Dexter Williams ran for a career-high 202 yards and No. 3 Notre Dame took advantage of Florida State turnovers to rout Florida State 42-13 on a frosty Saturday night. With t...
Published: 11/10/18